Ondřej Pekáček is a PhD. student of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences. He shared with us his experience with studying in Austria.
Ondřej, Thank you for your willingness to share with us your experience in Austria with Aktion. Can you tell us something about yourself? What do you study? Where did you spend your exchange stay?
First of all, thank you for the opportunity to share my experience regarding my Aktion stay in Austria with others. My research principally focuses on the analysis of news media communication using computational methods to work with large amounts of textual and related data. I spent my Aktion stay at the Department of Communication, University of Vienna (UW)
Where did you learn about the Aktion programme? Why did you choose this programme?
I have regularly come across the inspiring research output from scholars at the UW’s Department of Communication. Once I came across the offer of the possibility to apply for an Aktion research stay at one of the faculty newsletters, I did not hesitate.
Why did you choose Vienna University? Was it easy to find a guarantor there? Could you work on your thesis as planned, or were there any problems?
Aside from my point above, I have recently become interested in urbanism and having the opportunity to try to live in Vienna, which is one of the reference cities in this regard, was something that appealed to me. As for the academic supervision at the UW – I owe my gratitude to my dissertation supervisor, who introduced me initially.
Nevertheless, I found the people at the UW very open to international collaboration, so I assume that if prospective Aktion researchers formulate the goals of their stay to their potential guarantors clearly, it should work out without problems.
During my stay, there were some external complications (such as the Austrian Covid-19 lockdown), which complicated my work to a certain extent. However, everyone in Vienna was very understanding and supportive, so it helped to alleviate the stress of these circumstances.
Tell us something regarding your first days. Any acclimatisation problem?
First days were a bit chaotic, as there was some bureaucracy to be done, including the (in)famous Meldezettel (registration of residence), which needs to be done within three working days of moving to Austria. I had to fill some extra documents for the OeAD (which manages the Aktion program in Austria) related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Aside from that, all the paperwork has been very transparent – I was never asked for anything else that was clearly stated beforehand. In addition, staff of UW and OeAD have been incredibly helpful and answered all my questions clearly.
Also, there is a plethora of information available in English on several places, including the OeAD and the UW’s website. One tip to share: if your research stay in Vienna is longer than 3 months, you should register with MA 35 (the so-called Anmeldebescheinigung). I highly recommend you reserve your appointment as soon as possible due to the long waiting times.
Would you recommend the destination to other students? Would you recommend this type of mobility?
Without hesitation. Vienna is a simply wonderful city to be in and offers something for everyone – be it the easy access to the nature, culture, or gastronomy. Furthermore, UW has been a very creative place to be in and truly enabled me to focus on my dissertation research, while receiving very useful feedback from Department of Communication’s scholars. Personally, I would suggest a longer stay (2 months and more), since the first weeks might be more focused on acclimatization than actual work.