A UMZ student studies a semester at University of Salzburg, Austria through Erasmus+ Program
Erasmus Program is a European Union student exchange program which failitates the student exchange between European universities and other universities throughout the world. University of Mazandaran is also one of the partner universities that has this program and exchanges students with European universities; however,, with the current circumstancesof the pandemic, a number of our partner universities have paused their cooperation through Erasmus+ program. On the other hand, there were some universities that wanted to establish these exchange programs; University of Salzburg is one of them We were notified by University of Salzburg, one of our partners, about the details and the criteria that the students needed to have in order to participate in this exchange opportunity. Then we evaluated the studnets at UMZ based on the criteria. After diligent investigation, Ms. Zahra Dehmaisi, a master student in Political Science was chosen for this exchange opportunity. She is now studying at University of Salzburg in the second semester of the academic year 2020-2021. You can read the report that she has sent us in the following.
On my way to Salzburg, Austria
Because of the pandemic situation, a straight flight from Tehran to Salzburg was impossible and catching a flight from Tehran to Vienna was so difficult; therefore, I flew to Vienna with an indirect flight on Feb 13th, 2021. First, I got a plane that flew from Tehran to Istanbul and then I boarded another plane that took me from Istanbul to Vienna. The Tehran-Istanbul flight took off at 16:55 and after three hours we landed in the Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Istanbul. Four hours and thirty minutes later, I boarded the plane to Vienna and two hours and twenty minutes later, I got to my destination.
After landing in the airport in Vienna, I did a PCR test which turned out to be negative and then I did the paperwork for being quarantined for the next 10 days. When all the formalities were over at the airport, I got into the city of Salzburg and bought a train ticket to the city center butfor some reasons the destination wasn’t the Salzburg city itself and after two hours and thirty minutes I got out of the train and boarded the bus that would take me to Salzburg with the same ticket that I had already purchased. Upon reaching Salzburg, I got into a city bus and got off at a bus stop called “Mirabell Platz”. The distance from this bus stop to the dormitories was a ten-minute walk. At last, I was in the dormitory!
Dormitories at University of Salzburg
I and my roommate who is from Ukraine and a studentof international relations from a university in Poland got into the dormitories in the same day but a few hours apart.We actually passed the quarantine period together. Having a roommate who not only happens to be studying the same major but is European as well has been more than helpful to me because at the time I did not have a bank account or a credit card to buy things.
Orientation and Coronavirus Test
After two days, on the 15th of February, the orientation sessions started. In these orientation sessions which lasted for two weeks, the basics of living a comfortable life in Salzburg were taught to us.
After spending five days in quarantine, on the 18th of February, I went to the congress building to have a coronavirus test;after 10 minutes the test result was sent to me via a SMS. It was negative.
Getting My Meldezettel (registration form)
After getting the results of my coronavirus test, I could apply for a bank account. For getting a bank account, however, having an Austrian SIM card, a student ID, and a registration form (Meldezettel) are necessary. For that reason, I filled out the necessary forms for getting this document with the help of the dormitory official. After that, I scanned the form and sent it to an Austrian government website. After a few days, I received my Meldezettel document in my post box at the dormitory. This document that verifies that I live in Austria is very important for doing administrative jobs such as opening a bank account or getting a student insurance.
Getting My Bank Account
In the previous years, Erasmus Student Network (ESN) would provide students with a free SIM card and an ESN card that has special discounts for a variety of services.
But getting the ESN card was not possible even online and I had to apply for an Austrian SIM card. After getting my SIM card, I went into a bank to open my account. But because my stay in Austria was too short, I was asked to open my account online. The language of the website was in German, so I asked for the help of another Iranian student who was fluent in German. However, we found out that Iranians were not in the list of nationalities that could open accounts in that bank. We checked the websites of some other banks but most of them wouldn’t allow Iranians to open accounts. Finally, we found a bank that was a relatively new one and did not have much difficult requirements to open an account. So, I chose this bank and I could open my account in person. Then, after 7 days, my credit card was posted to me.
After successfully opening my bank account, I sent my account details to Ms. Katharina Gimm who works in the international office of the University of Salzburg and she told me that the first installment of the Erasmus+ grant would be deposited to my account in about two weeks.
Another point that I must make is that all the new Erasmus+ students can have an ESNBuddy. ESNbuddy is a project that aims to assign an incoming Erasmus student with an "ESNbuddy" who is a local student willing to help an exchange student to get up on their feet in their first weeks in a new country. I did not choose an ESNbuddy while I was in Iran, but I applied for one when I was in Salzburg. The day after I applied for an ESNbuddy, based on my profile and my preferences, someone named Ahmad from Pakistan who had been living in Salzburg for four years accepted my request. After my quarantine was over, he showed me the important places in Salzburg.
Also, there was a WhatsApp group called “Salzburg Newcomers” in which students could set meetings and gatherings. I found good friends from all around the world in that group.
Start of the Classes
On Monday March 1st, our online classes started . The first session was dedicated to an introduction to the course and orientation of the students. Later, PDF of the books and the required resources were handed out through emails and the university website.
Students from all around the world were participating in this class and also both Erasmus+ students, and regular students could participate in them. Most of my classes were in the form of a seminar and we did not have final exams and only the inside and outside of class activities determined the grades of the students. The procedure of the class was that we had to read one or two articles each week and we would talk and exchange what we thought about those articles in the online class. We also had to write one or two essays for each course.
Getting my Student ID
With a scheduled appointment on March 4th, I went to the international office of the university and received my student ID. The International Office of the University of Salzburg is located in an old building which was built in the eighteenth century in the center of the city of Salzburg. At the International Office, I met Ms. Katharine Gimm who openly welcomed me and gave me details about how the classes are held as well as other useful information like how to use the printer and the library.
At the moment classes are held online and announcements are made through the email that the university has created for the new students.
Office of International and Scientific Cooperation (OISC) at University of Mazandaran wishes Ms. Dehmaisi wellbeing and success.