Austria is a small mountainous country bordering Germany on the northern slopes of the Alps. Keeping with its long history of cultural magnificence, Austria today offers one of the highest standards of living in the world amidst some of the most beautiful scenery to boot. Participating in a high school program in Austria will be a rare opportunity to explore one of Europe’s most impressive countries while gaining valuable personal insight into the customs and culture of its people.
Austria is a fairly small country with a population of just over 8 million citizens. Most of the country lies at a high altitude in the northern and eastern regions of the Alps, which makes for world class hiking, skiing, and other outdoor adventure activities.
Most high school students choose to settle in for their program in Vienna, the country’s capital and largest city. Vienna is home to over a quarter of Austria’s population and is the main political, economic, and cultural hub of the country. Renowned for its immense influence throughout Europe in the arts and sciences, Vienna was home to such famed persons as Marie Antoinette, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Sigmund Freud. Much of its historical architecture, such as the Schonbrunn Palace and State Opera House, has survived the country’s tumultuous history and remains accessible to the general public.
Other cities that are common locations for high school programs in Austria include Salzburg, Graz, and Linz. While no other city comes close to Vienna in size and global influence, these alternative destinations can offer a more quaint and authentic experience of the Austrian lifestyle. Many high school programs in Austria will further take you to several cities and towns across the country, so you do not have to choose just one!
High School Programs in Austria
There are several types of high school study programs in Austria to choose from, the most common being focused around language immersion. While many Austrians speak English fluently as a second language, German is still the native tongue spoken across the country, offering a great opportunity for students to enhance their language skills in everyday conversation. Language courses are typically offered at all levels, from beginning to intermediate to advanced.
If you have no interest in learning the German language then do not fear; many high school programs in Austria will focus instead on general studies of Austria’s history and culture. Such cultural exploration programs tend to combine academic lessons with field trips and other immersive opportunities to important locations across the country. From the Habsburg dynasty to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which launched World War I, Austria is bursting at the seams with historical and cultural intrigue. Within the realm of cultural studies, some high school programs might also focus on one aspect of Austrian culture for those who are interested in specializing their studies. Students of music particularly will benefit from Austria’s rich classical heritage.
Most high school programs in Austria are offered over the summer, and last for as little as one week or as long as two months. Students who are particularly ambitious can even enroll in an exchange program and spend up to a semester or full school year in Austria studying at a local high school.
Scholarships & Costs
Austria is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, so suffice to say it will not be the cheapest place for a high school program abroad. Still many costs of living are covered in general program fees, so students will not have to worry too much about on-the-ground expenses. To help cover the costs of a high school program in Austria, students should make an effort to take advantage of all the scholarships and funding opportunities out there for high school students headed to Austria.
Accommodation & Visas
During a high school program in Austria you will likely be put up in either a homestay or enjoy dormitory style living. Each option has its perks; homestays are a great way to immerse yourself fully into Austrian family life and practice the language on a regular basis, while dorms can also be a fun environment living with international students from all over the world. See what type of accommodations are offered by your program of choice and communicate with your parents and provider about which might be the best option for you.
Students coming from within the European Union will not have to obtain a visa to travel to Austria, while those coming from outside of Europe face a different situation. Some citizens are afforded the opportunity to stay in Austria for up to three months visa-free, while others will have to apply for a visa before entering the country, all depending on what nation you are coming from.
Benefits & Challenges
A land of music, beauty, and global importance, Austria is a destination which should entice high school students from everywhere in the world to flock to its doorstep. The language barrier and cultural adaptation can be challenging obstacles, but facing them you will help you grow immensely as a person and as an international traveler. By leaving home and venturing on a high school program in Austria you will come to many realizations about the larger world around you, and return home with a fresh viewpoint about how you fit into it all.