Anna-Sara Reinisch: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria

Last changed: 03 April 2024
Picture of Hallstatt which is a small village in the mountain area close to Salzburg.

Austria’s capital Vienna offers a blend of imperial traditions, music, and endearing charm. A city that inspires with the old and the new alike, and always has a cosy place available in a coffee house or wine tavern. I am very happy that I have been able to do my exchange studies in such an amazing city. I met a lot of inspiring people, saw a lot of nice landscape architecture projects, and enjoyed the local food and drinks.

Why did you want to do an exchange?

I read that Vienna supposes to be one of the cities with the highest quality of living worldwide. I got curious and decided to explore why this is the case by going on an Erasmus to the capital city of Austria. Even if I enjoy studying at SLU, I had the feeling that it was time to leave the bubble of Alnarp and get to know new places, meet new people, and try a different university to gain new perspectives and contacts. 

Which courses did you take?

The biggest difference between studying at SLU and BOKU (short for University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences) was that at SLU you just have 2 courses per semester and at BOKU you have more courses at the same time. This led to that a lot of deadlines coming at the same time during the end of the semester. It’s doable but a bit stressful. It can be hard to reach the 30 credits during one semester at BOKU. One piece of advice is not to choose a lot of courses with a big workload to make sure to get all your credits. Also, it can be a good idea to have more courses at the beginning of the semester so June will not be as stressful with all the exams and deadlines.

Otherwise, I really enjoyed to study at a different university and get to know new teaching models. The campus of BOKU is beautiful with historical buildings and with a nice park next to it. Here is a list of the courses I took at BOKU and some information about each of them. My advantage was that I speak German which allowed me to choose between a wider range of subjects. Also, the advantage of being an Erasmus at BOKU is that you can select from all the courses provided at the university (also from other programs) if it has something to do with your program at your home university.

852113 CAD-advanced course - PJCAD C (in German)
It was a nice course where I got to know new tools in AutoCAD and how to finish a project in just one program. From SLU I’m used to exporting the plans to Illustrator for the finish but in this course, we did all the coloring and visualisation in AutoCAD.

853314 Digital visualisation techniques (in German)
In this course, we worked with SketchUp, Twilight Render, and Terrange 4. We did visualisations of public spaces and gardens, day and night visualisations, and used SketchUp to create concepts. With help of Terrange 4 we created a visualtisation of bigger landscapes.

852112 Field trip to landscape architecture I (in German)
If you take courses at BOKU make sure you join some excursions. It is a great way to explore the country and to see some interesting projects. We went to Graz for two days where we visited different projects such as a promenade next to the river Mur and we walked through a new neighborhood. After the course, we had to do a portfolio about the different projects we visited.

852115 Introduction to digital picture and text processing (in German)
It’s a course to improve your skills in Photoshop and InDesign. It teaches you the basics but it also allows you to dig deeper into the program.

854318 Landscape planning project (landscape planning, recreational planning, environment protection and planning, spatial planning, water planning) (in English)
We worked with a neighborhood in Salzburg and looked for opportunities to densify the area. At the beginning of the course, we had lectures. Before Easter, we went one week to Salzburg to visit the project area, and we had a workshop with other students. For the rest of the course, we had group work to implement our new skills and densify one of the neighborhoods in Salzburg. We talked a lot about GSI, FSI, and GFF.

952321 Planting design (in German)
This was a course that went more into the detail of plantings with perennials, shrubs, and trees. We had the opportunity to design an area next to the hotel/hostel Superbude in Vienna. Already before, the owners of Superbude have invited students to design the wallpaper of the different rooms of the hostel/hotel. This time we got invites to design the area outside of the hostel/hotel which was a lot of fun!

853322 Recreation infrastructure planning (in German)
As in Sweden outdoor recreation is a big part of Austria. We learned about the tool ROS and how to evaluate different outdoor recreation areas. During group work, we analyzed two different swimming areas in Vienna and proposed how to improve those.

852310 Sketching (in German)
This was one of the nicest courses I took. For one week we visited different places in Vienna and were sketching buildings and plants the entire day. It was a great way to explore the city, discover new details, and improve your sketching skills. The day started with one hour of theory. During the rest of the day, we were sketching and got help from the supervisors to improve our work. There was no exam. You just needed to hand in your sketchbook.

What was the student life like outside of your courses?

You will never be bored in Vienna. There is so much to see and do. The university and the student union organize a lot of activities like ice skating, skiing, “Stammtisch”, and parties. I ended up being in a lot of Whatsapp groups where you could find people that wanted to go party, hiking, drawing,
climbing, etc.

The University Sports Institute Vienna provides a lot of different sports courses. I took the chance to play floorball during my stay in Vienna which was perfect to meet students from other universities and find new friends. Besides studying I also went hiking around Vienna. Hiking trails are starting in the city and take you to the hilly nature surrounding Vienna. On the hills, you can enjoy the vineyards with a view of the city.

I also visited other cities in Austria like Graz, Salzburg, Linz, Innsbruck, and Hallstatt. Don’t miss out Hallstatt!!! It’s really beautiful. Such as the mountain area in Tirol. Also, Vienna has a great location in the center of Europe which makes it easy to visit cities like Venice, Bratislava, Budapest, and Prague.

What was your best experience during your exchange?

Besides coming back to Sweden with a lot of new knowledge and impressions, new skills in German and new friends for life I enjoyed exploring Vienna and the nature in Austria. I found a lot of new landscape architecture projects to use as references and I have new ideas on how to improve cities in Sweden to be as cool as Vienna and how to deal with climate change. I found nice projects on how to make the streets in the cities greener.

What was the biggest challenge during your exchange?

The month of June was the biggest challenge. It was a stressful time with a lot of deadlines for all the courses I took during the semester. It’s something I’m not used to at SLU. I have never done so many presentations, posters, and portfolios in such a short time. The summer heat in Vienna also didn’t make the situation easier. It was challenging but I made it anyway which I’m super proud of.

Advice for future exchange students

Life hacks to enjoy the time more at BOKU:

  • It’s like a puzzle to create your time plan for your studies at BOKU. What is good to know is that the teachers are very helpful and you can just write them an email if you have questions about overlaps between different courses. Also, they can reserve a place for you in their courses before the semester starts.
  • Bring your hiking shoes to Austria. There is a lot to explore.
  • Enjoy every day! The time as an Erasmus student will end faster than you can imagine.

If you have some questions about BOKU or Vienna feel free to contact me:


Name: Anna-Sara Reinisch
Exchange at: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (Austria)
Programme at SLU: Landscape Architecture, Alnarp
Period of exchange: Spring 2022