|Participating cities (LC's)||Graz, Innsbruck and Vienna|
|Languages||German (official language) and English accepted for clerkship|
|Currency (how much is a Bigmac?)||Euro, 2.99 EUR for a Bigmac|
|Time zone||CET = GMT + 1|
|Number of Doctors and beds per 1000 people||6.1 beds for primary care and 3.8 doctors per 1000 people|
|Member of IFMSA since...||its founding in 1951.|
|Number of incoming students per year||150|
|Who are our NEO's||Karina Kabaczy (Incomings) and Philipp Foessleitner (Outgoings)|
|Our official website||www.amsa.at|
A warm-hearted welcome to our wonderful Austria and of course AMSA's exchange programme! We are already looking forward to host you and show our cities to you.
Austria is a very small country with about 8 million inhabitants. It consists of nine states - one of these states is the capital (Vienna, Wien) itself, where nearly a fifth of all people is living (1,7 million). So you can imagine that in most parts of Austria you will find only small villages and lots of nature, like meadows, fields, many lakes and even more mountains.
Graz (capital of the state "Steiermark"/Styria) is the second largest city of Austria with about 227.000 inhabitants, Innsbruck (capital of the state "Tirol"/The Tyrol) with about 114.000 inhabitants and Salzburg (capital of the same-named state) with about 150.000 belong to the smaller cities.
Thanks to the international migration, tourism and education, you will find many people able to speak English in all generations.
We are proud to be the home country of many famous people - tourists know Austria for its sophisticated kitchen, with "Wiener Schnitzel", "Sacher Torte" (famous chocolate cake), „Apfelstrudel“ (apple stroodle) on the basic side of the range, "Sound of Music" (funnily only rarely known in Austria), its composers of classic music (Mozart, Bruckner, Haydn, Schubert, Strauß), though we also got some important writers in German literature as well as internationally known artists (Schiele, Klimt).
For you as a medical student it could be of interest that some important Austrians contributed to medicine, a few examples for internal medicine are Landsteiner (found the blood groups AB0 and Rh), Škoda (invented our percussion and auscultation; he was born in today's Czech Republic which then belonged to Austria, studied in Vienna and then worked and lived here until he died) and somehow also Doppler (published works on what we today call "doppler effect", basis for ultra-sonography and many more). Not to forget that Austrian doctors contributed to our medical knowledge in many fields of medicine for example in anatomy, patholgy, surgery (Rokitansky, Billroth), hygienics (Semmelweis who studied here but was Austrian-Hungarian) and fields of psychology/psychotherapy (Freud, Frankl, Adler). Surely the Viennese Medical School had a long and glorious tradition which came to an end with the hostile antisemitic environment before the Second World War. Many important scientists already left the country even before 1938 or then where removed from their jobs, chased away or killed. Institutional research only slowly recoverd and doubtless the big global players on medical inventions can be found elswhere, though some new discoveries are still being made here and some institutions have a good reputation in the scientific community.
Check that links
In Austria there is a compulsory health insurance, therefore 98% of the population have an insurance. For the individuals, there is no choice on the insurance company as this system was historically organized according to specific occupational groups and therefore people become automatically clients of the respective insurance company (e.g. "the farmers health insurance company", the insurance company for employees, etc.) depending on their profession. Additionally, you can have a private health insurance, which covers some extras (for example in hospital single room with better standard, e.g. air-condition), some services provided in a private practise that are not already paid by the compulsory insurance, special transportation costs (a normal ambulance if really needed is free, but e.g. the helicopter is not coverd in most cases of accidents when doing just some leisure time activites) and so on. The need for a private insurance is very low, as it is prohibited by law to make a difference in the treatment of patients depending wheter they have an additional health insurance or not. So all necessary treatment and medication is covered by the public health system. For historical reasons, the Health system is not directly run by the State's administration. Free physicians and hospital services are provided to everyone, funded from special health taxes. Hospitals are either run by state or regions or they are private, but have contracts with the public ensurance companies. Hospital staff are salaried according to nationally agreed contracts. For doctors having a private practise, most of them can only survive if having contracts with the insurance companies - people grow up with the feeling that the health system is free and most never would get the idea of paying for a doctor's consultation. Why should you see a doctor and pay him if you could see another one for free? The answer to this question is the reason, why there are some doctors running real "private" practices where people pay for the consultation (which partly is refunded by the health system or the additional private insurance): These doctors are either very popular and known to be "good" or patients like to go their because they are more patient and have more time for the patients problem (a usual price is 100€ for such a private consultation, whereas the public insurance e.g. would just pay 20€ of this). So the primary care is largely provided by independent practices and are paid via nationally agreed contracts, according to the number of patients registered with them and the range of additional services offered. Those contracts are hard to get for doctors wanting to open a private practice - the health sector is regulated and you will not find private pratices and pharmacies on every corner. For prescriptions there is a deductible of € 4,9. The % of GDP for health costs is 10,2, which is above the OECD‘s average of 9,0. Life expectancy was in 2005 for women 82,24 and 76,65 for men. Generally, taxes for income are quite high and so is also the obligatory health tax, so adult doctors end up paying more than 55% of their income on taxes!
In Austria we have 3 active local committees. Each committee has it's own university hospital where you'll be placed. For more information about each city and the hospitals please go to their information page (see section Cities offered for exchange on the bottom of the page).
4 universities - 4 different systems
Basically you have to pass a test to be able to study Medicine. After this, the curriculum lasts for 6 years (in Vienna, Innsbruck and Graz) or 5 years (in Salzburg).
The first one to two years are mostly preclinical studies, followed by clinical studies. At the end, there is a practical part (in different fields) lasting 12 - 24 months, again depending on the university you are studying at.
After graduation we receive the title "Dr. med. univ." (Doctor medicinae universae), but still we are officially not allowed to work by ourselves. Either one does an internship, rotating through the departements, which lasts for three years, finishing as a general practitioner. On the other hand there is the possibility, to go directly into specialization but such places for spezialisation are hard to get.
Most Austrian people are punctual and expect others to be so, too. A typical thing is Austrian cosiness, which does in no aspect mean laziness! Sometimes you might have the feeling that Austrian people are born magistrates (yes, alot of paperwork), eventhough most people don't enjoy it. One thing that people here maybe also share with other nations is that people often use the chance to moan about something. Last but not least, there is the saying that there is an "Austrian way" of solving problems. This is when something is done in a way that doesn't intimidate someone, which may result in a half-hearted solution from an exterior point of view. The best example for this is how the law handels "smoking". It is prohibited in public areas like universities, hospitals, governmental offices, most workplaces, but not in all bars and restaurants - the current rule is that the main area of the restaurant/bar must be non-smoker, other rooms must be seperated by a wall to prevent exchanging the smoke but if the whole facility is smaller than 50m², there is free choice to declare it a (non)smoker pub.
Normally, the clerkship starts between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. in the morning and lasts until 3:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m. but it can vary, depending on the department. Working days are Monday to Friday. Please ask your tutor about your timetable on the first day. We know that this exchange does not only mean hard work in the hospital but it should also be a lot of fun! If you need one day off, please ask your tutor in advance. Otherwise, we'll have trouble organizing exchange programs for international students in future.
Most Austrian people can speak English. The main language in the hospitals is German though. Doctors are generally willing to explain things in English to you, but most of the time they speak German with the patients. This is to be sure there is no misunderstanding. So prepare yourself, that you probably won't understand everything that is going on. Remember though that the doctors are taking you as much in account as possible, but that it is not always possible to talk in English and especially not always possible to explain everything. There are many Austrian doctors that find it too stressy to take time to explain things, so sometimes it is rather a question of attitude than of language skills, so you have to be lucky to find the "good guys" and stick to them! Important is that you should really introduce yourself to every new person you see the first time, was it a doctor or a nurse. Just say "Hi, i am ..., a medical student from ...!! I am here for a month for an exchange because ..."
Where you stay will depend on the LC and the time of the year you are coming to Austria as well. Please check the pages of the different LCs. Some offer student dormitories, others offer student housing with families or other students.
In the dormitories there are single- and double-bed rooms and each room is equipped with a bed, a desk and a wardrobe. There is one kitchen on each floor, which all the students who live on this floor can share. Some kitchens are equipped with dishes and kitchenware, but in some units there is nothing like that. So take no risks and bring your own stuff with you, if you don’t want to eat at the hospital.
Concerning the boarding, you will get either money in cash or uploaded on a card, so you can eat at the hospital's own canteens, which are good for their prices.
The social programme depends on the local committee you are going to. There are some events, which will be organised by the Local Committees in cooperation with AIESEC and IAESTE - especially check out http://www.vienna-weekend.at/
If you want to explore our country on weekends, we would recommend you our public train, which is clean and comfortable. At an average speed of 100 km/h you can reach a lot of interesting places within a very short time! A journey from the far east to the west end of Austria would take about 8 hours (800 km). You can get information about the train system under: http://www.oebb.at/en/index.jsp
If you are planning to travel by train, it is advisable to buy the “VORTEILScard” (also termed "euro<26"; "Vorteil" is german and means "advantage"; €19.9). With this card you get a 50% reduction of the normal price on train-tickets inside Austria and in case you take a train out of Austria also 25% for the part of the ride that goes outside of Austria. All you need to get this card are an age under 26, a photo and an Austrian address (dormitory's address). You can buy it at all ÖBB ticket counters. There is also the VORTEILScard classic for people older than 26 years (€ 99.90 but you have to do a lot of travelling to be cheaper than without it!). If you for example take a ride to from Vienna to Salzburg, both directions would cost ~70€ full price. If you buy the card, you pay only half, so the total price was ~20+35=55€.
Each year the Austrian Railway Company offers a special ticket that you can use it from July to the beginning of September on all trains of ÖBB in Austria and the „Raaberbahn“ (not included further private railways, rack and pinion railway and spezial occasion transportation). Selling starts by middle of June with updated prices and conditions on the oebb-website (you better check there about actual prices and time limitations). Usually valid from Monday till Friday from 8:00 a.m. till midnight as well as the whole day on saturdays, sundays and public holidays for the 2nd Class.
You need to have a valid ÖBB VORTEILScard <26 to buy it!
The summer ticket is available for
For travelling around Europe by train check out: http://www.oebb.at/en/Travelling_abroad/index.jsp . Of special interest for you will be "Sparschiene" (could be translated as "budget rail") and "Interrail". Interrail is for travelling to many countries/cities, Sparschiene is recommended for weekend-trips.
The Interrail-ticket is an all-inclusive ticket for residents of Europe (in a geographical meaning, details see website above) - you can choose periods (5/10/15/22/30 days) and the countries (up to all Europe). One month for all Europe ("Globalpass") <26-price would be 409€, adult 619€. This ticket is for all trains, travelling by seats in 2nd class (which usually is very good) with no reservation (mostly not necessary but you can add up and buy one). If you want to take a train with sleeping cabine, this would cost around 20€ extra (in 6bed cabine). But check it out yourselves (website above). For purchasing this ticket you will need to show your passport, whose number will be part of the ticket. If you don't have a permanent adress in any European country, you can't buy that ticket (only exception: you got a visa for longer than 6 months). But don't worry, there are similar offers for tourists from different sites such as www.eurail.com with slightly higher prices.
The Sparschiene-ticket are single tickets with night trains with very cheap conditions. If you book for example a bed in a 6bed-cabine, you would also get a breakfast. It can be booked online and the fares are cheaper the sooner you book. Look at the website above. You will find prices (one-way) for example single directions Vienna to Venice/Firence/Milano/Bologna/Rome (from 29€), Dresden/Munich/Frankfurth/Berlin/Hamburg (from 29€), Prague, Budapest (both from 19€), Krakow/Warschaw (from 59€) and Amsterdam (from 69€). But you need to book soon - best is MONTHs in advance! You can check the availability online and buy with your credit card.
Travelling by bus
If you are not lucky and are too late for a cheap train ticket, the best option usually is a bus service which is a bit less comfortable (reduced space for legs) but cheaper than trains. Depending on different directions you have to find (also use google) and choose the right bus company for you. Ticket prices vary - the earlier you buy, the cheaper they are (buy online with credit card). A few recommendations:
Travelling by plane
Cheap and recommendable airlines ("low-cost carriers") are:
They all have flights from main Airports in Austria; but also check out "Bratislava" as origin if you are in Vienna, this actually is in the neighbouring country Slovakia, but is only 70km away from Vienna with very good bus and train connections and used by many Austrians for cheap flights (we recommend you the bus from Ryanair or Eurolines, cost around 8€ one-way, takes about 1 hour, directly from U3 station Erdberg in Vienna - book online in advance). Generally also here you get cheapest tickets only if you buy months in advance! Basic fare often only inlcudes 1 piece of lugagge for the cabin and normal bags are due to extra charge. Also think of connecting flights rather than searching for a direct flight (e.g. it can be much cheaper to go Vienna-London-Granada in Spain instead of looking for a direct flight to Granada) which sounds crazy but that's the system works. One reason why those flights are so cheap is that they sometimes are not located at the closest international airports of the respective destination but farer away at another one with lower charges. This can lead to misunderstanding and you ending up many many kilometers away from the city you actually wanted to go (e.g. Ryan Air flies to "Franfurt/Hahn" which is a hub for many flights, but actually 80km away from Frankfurt; same story that you pick "Bratislava" if you want to go/come to Vienna). But no worries, there are always bus services for extra charge - so be sure that you find out all "hidden costs" before you book!
Austria lies within the moderate climate zone, which basically means it can rain any time of the year. In the East there is a changeover to the continental climate.
In the mountainous areas of the Alps (West and South) there is an alpine climate. The further you go to the East, the less precipitation you‘ll have but the temperature differences between summer and winter will grow.
In the Alps there is a high rate of rainfall, short summers and long winters with heavy snowfall. Avalanches are common in spring. Be aware that the sun is intense at high altitudes. In summer temperatures are usually between 25-35° Celsius, but they can easily fall below 15° Celsius. In winter you will probably find snow even in the cities, when temperatures are around the freezing point. Typical precipitation rates are 700mm per year, depending on the region (more in West, less in East), so you should definitely not forget your umbrella, even when you‘re coming in summer!
Note that example: The area code for Vienna is "01" for calls within Austria and "1" for international calls, e.g.: if you want to phone the Viennese number 40 4000, you dial 01 40 4000 (in Austria) or +43 1 40 4000 (from abroad). For calls within Vienna you can omit the leading 01 if you use a regular phone, but not if you use a mobile phone.
There are always some public phone booths around the city. They operate either with telephone cards, with coins or some even work with credit cards (minimum is 0,20€). If you are lucky you can find a multimedia phone booth, where you can surf the web, write emails and text messages and even make a videophone call. Emergency calls (phone numbers 122, 133, 144) and numbers beginning with 0800 are free calls. For these neither coins nor telephone cards are needed.
In Austria the mobile networks are GSM standard 1800 or 900 MHz. There are five mobile service providers, namely A1 (http://www.a1.net), t-mobile (http://www.t-mobile.at), Orange (http://www.orange.at), tele.ring (http://www.telering.at) and Drei (http://www.drei.at). If you have already a mobile, which is not sim-locked, you may consider buying a prepaid sim- card. If you want to buy a new mobile be careful, because most new phones come with a 12 month minimum contract. Good prepaid SIM-cards are BOB http://www.bob.at (6,8 cent per min) or YESSS http://www.yesss.at (also 6,8 cent per min). You can get BOB at every post office (e.g. LKH entrance area) and YESSS at every Hofer http://www.hofer.at supermarket – but also at other mobile phone shops. (mobile phone in German = “Handy”)
Since 2002 the currency in Austria (like in almost every other country in the European Union) is the Euro (1 Euro = 100 Cents), abbreviated € or EUR. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Thursdays until 5:30 p.m. It is possible to exchange foreign currency at any bank and most railway stations. Credit cards are widely accepted, but please check in advance. You can get cash at ATMs (automatic telling machines) or cash points (“Bankomat”, marked with special signs) with your Maestro Card, Visa, Eurocard, Mastercard, AmericanExpress, EuroCheque and many more.
Generally, Austria is a very very safe country so you shouldn’t get into any trouble. Of course, as everywhere in the world you can come across drunken or crazy people that you should be a little bit careful of. Do not make fun of them, especially when they are bigger than you, baldy or muscular and consider rather walking in a group than alone after midnight.
In Austria it is illegal to take any kind of drugs, including Marihuana. The legal drinking age is 16 for “soft” alcoholic drinks like beer or wine and 18 for any kind of alcohol (though many kids are allowed to sip/drink already before in their families and "drinking" is generally broadly accepted, ranking Austria top in worlds' consumption statistics with 75 litres of alcocol/per head/per year"). Drinking is allowed everywhere, so you can also enjoy your drinks in a park. Smoking is allowed from the age of 16. Note that smoking is not allowed in public buildings, unless explicitly specified, but allowed outside.
With this card you get a reduction at cinemas, theatres, public baths, etc. With or without the card, it is advisable to ask for possible reductions for students wherever you go. The card is available in any STAtravel office (logically you need to show some proof that you are student if you want to get one!).
E-mail of SCOPE-Team: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adress of AMSA:
AKH Ebene 6M
Postfach 15, A – 1097 Wien
AMSA's official website:
in English: http://en.amsa.at/Main_Page
in German: http://www.amsa.at/Hauptseite
IFMSA's official website: http://www.ifmsa.org/