Lia SalimovaErasmus-Studentin von der Cologne Business School
Hello, dear readers! Welcome to my article about Erasmus experience! My name is Lia Salimova. I am 22 years old and from Baku, Azerbaijan! I study International Business with a marketing specialization in Cologne, Germany. Currently, I am doing my semester abroad at FH. ST. Pölten and studying Media & Economics.
Why I Chose Austria?
My first time in Austria was when I was just 14 years old. I was travelling with my parents all over Austria. Back in 2012 we were so impressed by the beauty of this country. Without thinking for a long time I decided immediately to come here and get to know better the Austrian culture. Let’s agree that being abroad as a tourist is completely different than from being abroad as an exchange student. Once you get used to the local lifestyle, everything becomes easier. I arrived in the middle of February and was excited for making closer friends, more intimate relationships, travel around Austria and most important to learn the difference between German and Austrian cultures. Additionally, it is a good spot to travel to neighbor countries such as: Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Poland etc.
What's the City of Sankt Pölten like?
Sankt Pölten is the capital of Lower Austria and is located around 30 minutes away from Vienna. The center of the city is small, cozy, compact and lively at the same time safe and peaceful. Sankt Pölten is also surrounded by beautiful nature. There is a beautiful lake 10 minutes walking from the dormitory. You should take advantage of watching the sunsets at Viehofner Lake. Furthermore, there is a good and fast public transportation and you can easily get to Vienna and to the other cities. Top attractions to see: restaurants at the city center, Maria Himmelfahrt church, Klangturm, Rathaus, Herzogenburg Monastery, Sankt Pölten cathedral, Ratzersdorfer and Viehofner lakes.
View on the city of St. Pölten | Copyright: Lia Salimova
Getting to Know Each Other
As I already mentioned, we arrived in Sankt Pölten in mid-February when the weather was still rainy and a bit cold. Fortunately, we all were staying at the dormitory in Wihast or Domus. We had opportunity to get to know each other in the common room and spend time together. We got along very well and became like a family since the beginning. The students were from all over the world, the countries such as Ecuador, South Africa, Russia, Great Britain and even Vietnam.
Our first trip together was to Bratislava. What can I say about this trip? It was a new cool experience for all of us! We walked around the city, spent time in the old town and visited many touristic places. The most important we had opportunity to try the typical Slovakian food. Then, we got to know the nightlife of Bratislava and really enjoyed it. Top attractions to see: Bratislava Castle, St. Martin's Cathedral, Michael's Gate, Old town hall, the blue church, Devin castle etc.
Selfie of Lia and her new friends | Copyright: Lia Salimova
No city is so special as Vienna! Each visit feels unique and remarkable to us. Vienna combines nature and city living by offering countless parks and recreational areas. The top attractions are Schönbrunn Palace, Albertina, Zoo Vienna, Butterfly house, Volksgarten, St Stephen’s Cathedral, Rathaus, Belvedere Museum, Prater etc. We explored all the nice places of Vienna and could also party. If you like cakes, you should definitely try “Sacher Torte”.
On the 11th of March our life changed completely. Our isolation included no university, no social life, no travelling for almost 2,5 months. Some of you might think that our semester abroad was ruined - but for me this is absolutely not true! :) We took advantage of the situation and used this time for something that we always wanted to do, but never had time.
Unfortunately, some of my international colleagues needed to return home due to the situation. It was a very sad moment for our team. It's a shame that we had to say goodbye too soon. A short time was enough time for us to become a family. We promised to meet somewhere in a sunny place. As we say: “it is not a goodbye", it is "I will see you soon".
Due to Corona, we were not able to attend the university normally as we wanted. I could go to the university only for 3 weeks and I really liked how well-equipped the university was. I had opportunity to meet the teachers in person, they were very nice and helpful.
As soon as the isolation started, we needed to study online. It was very confusing at first, but then we got used to it very quickly. The University had excellent communication with its students. If we had any problems or difficulties, they would help us to solve them as soon as possible. The FH team and the teachers try their best to support us.
At the end of the semester we finally could meet our teacher of “German language and Austrian culture” in the city center and spent our last lesson together. She was very helpful the whole semester and gave us a lot of effort digitally.
Back to Travels: Melk, Salzburg, Krems an der Donau, Hallstatt and Budapest
As soon as quarantine softened, we immediately rushed to travel. The first thing was in our mind to visit the cities near Sankt Pölten.
Melk is an Austrian town on the River Danube, west of Vienna. It’s known for the 11th-century Melk Abbey, a vast monastery built high above the town. This town has much to offer, from the historic buildings to cafes, offering special Austrian food and, of course, the wine.
The Melk Abbey | Copyright: Lia Salimova
Krems an der Donau is a small town in the lower Austria, which is a famous wine region and has a history of wine production. Winzer Krems is an established winery and produces some of the finest bottles in Austria since 1938. Luckily for us it was a sunny day, we could enjoy beautiful historic city center, nature and chatting with each other.
Streets in Krems (left) and a Wineyard near the city (right) | Copyright: Lia Salimova
Salzburg is an Austrian city on the border of Germany, with views of the Eastern Alps. What is it that makes it so special? Salzburg is for all of those who admire art, history and culture no matter the age. If you like pretty buildings and baroque architecture, you will be in heaven here. Top attractions to see: Fortress Hohensalzburg, Mirabell Palace, Schloss Hellbrunn, Salzburg Cathedral, Mozart's Birthplace house, St Peter’s Abbey, Mirabellgarden, Residenzplatz etc. There are more than enough places to see in one day. As soon as you explore all places, you should watch the sunset from Hohensalzburg Fortress towers over the city below and get some spectacular views of Salzburg.
A bridge with love locks (left) and a church (right) in the city of Salzburg | Copyright: Lia Salimova
Hallstatt is one of the oldest inhabited settlement in Europe, the city is a UNESCO heritage site and an important Austrian tourist attraction. There are usually many tourists from China and other countries each year, however we could “firstly and lastly” see Hallstatt without so many people. Hallstatt was a great day trip from Salzburg. Houses built onto the mountain on one side and homes built so close to the lake that some parts of the houses seem to touch the water. The picture cannot convey all the beauty that you see with your own eyes. In real it is even more stunning and definitely worth to go there!
View on the city of Hallstatt and the Hallstätter See | Copyright: Lia Salimova
Around the 15th of June, the boarders with some countries were open again. We knew it was now or never. We booked immediately tickets for 3 days. Hungary’s capital is known for its stunning architecture, history and nightlife. Even though there was a lockdown in the whole world, Hungary had it even more softened than Austria due to not so many cases. We enjoyed the beautiful views in a good weather, tried a typical sweet “Kürtős kalács” and loved the night life next to the Danube river.
Architectural photo inside of a church in Budapest | Copyright: Lia Salimova
It's Time to Say Goodbye
Goodbyes are always tough, but as we promised we will see each other very soon. Without my Erasmus friends, my whole cultural, intellectual and emotional exchange would have never been as great as it was. Therefore, I was able to make wonderful memories here in Sankt Pölten. It is so sad to leave this city. We will never forget our unforgettable time. Even though our semester here was during Corona time, we tried our best to enjoy and explore as much as we could. After all: I am so in love with this country, hopefully I can back again very soon.