Quest Exchange in Austria

In addition to wonderful cities and a rich history, Austria offers a great variety of pastimes due to its proximity to lakes, forests and mountains. Austria is famous for its natural splendor with thick green forests and towering peaks that overlook crystal lakes. People can easily access the great outdoors for hiking, boating, mountain biking and skiing. Austria is the home of the classic alpine ski style, and is the best place to learn stylish and safe ski techniques. Most families go on short ski trips, or go skiing during the weekends in the mountains. Snowboarding is also very common among young people. Surfing or sailing on the many lakes is also a popular activity. Horseback riding, football, tennis and volleyball are practiced nearly everywhere. The world’s toughest downhill skiing race, Hahnenkamrennen, is organized in Kitzbühel, Austria, every year. Baking is also important in Austria,  with fierce competition between towns and cities to produce the finest tortes. Even in small villages, bakeries would try to outdo each other. Almost every Austrian city has its trademark cake. The most famous Austrian cake is the Viennese Sachertorte.

Join the adventure that is Austria and don’t forget your skis and boots!

3 Fun Facts
  • One of the world’s best-known Austrians is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Most people think he is German.
  • 62% of Austria’s total land area is covered by the Austrian Alps.
  • Austria is constantly ranked as having one of the highest standards of living in the world, and Vienna nearly always tops the list of the World’s Most Livable Cities.
Program Dates

Year

Early Sept – Early July

Semester

Early Sept – Mid Jan
Mid Jan – Early July

Short-Term

Various
3 Months
2 Months
1 Month

SCHOOL LIFE

In most cases, students go to school five days a week starting in early September and ending in early July. The Fall semester starts in early September and ends in the middle of January, and the Spring semester starts in the middle of January and ends in early July. There are some schools that have classes on Saturdays as well. These schools have weekend classes because school days in Austria are fairly short. Lessons in school start just before 8am and finish around an hour after lunch during weekdays, and around noon on Saturdays. There are also specialty schools available in Austria, such as Tourism schools, Technical schools, Musical Gymnasiums.

Most schools in Austria are public and do not require school uniforms. Austrian youth study at high school (Gymnasium) for eight years. The first grade of high school starts when the students are ten years old, and continues until the final examination (“Matura”) in 8th grade. The students are then ready to go on to university. Most exchange students are placed in 5th, 6th or 7th grade, depending on their previous knowledge of German. Of course, without a minimum level of German, exchange students cannot receive grades in their subjects. For these students, and in some towns and schools, there are extra German lessons available. The most common basic subjects in school are English, German, French, Latin, mathematics, history, biology, sports, music, physics, and geography. Exchange students can substitute one or two of them, which means that instead of Latin or French, students may be able to take part in a lower grade in German. The student would have to discuss this option with their Local Coordinator to see if it is possible. Depending on the school, students can join different sports and music activities.

FAMILY LIFE

Most host families live in small communities near a bigger city or town. Austrian towns are very picturesque and often feel somewhat small compared to other European cities.

Many host parents work; therefore, students should be mature enough to prepare their own lunch or warm up some food. In most cases, the family eats together in the evening. Students will probably have the chance to go sightseeing with their family. Many places are close by in Austria, so weekend trips to adjoining countries are not unusual. The extra cost associated with overnight travel would be an additional fee not covered by Quest program fees. Austrians are known for their “Gemütlichkeit,” meaning their warm and friendly ways. Therefore, you can be sure to feel welcome in your new family.

Program EXTRAS

Each Fall, there is a 3-day welcome camp in Amsterdam. The cost of this camp is included in Quest program fees.

At the end of September/beginning of October, there is a Welcome Party in St. Gilgen at the Wolfgangsee to welcome all new students. The group stays overnight for one night at Wolfgang lake together with most of the host families, area representatives and staff. Hostel accommodations (approximately $35) are an additional cost that are not included in Quest program fees.

A 5-day intensive German language course is offered twice a year, once in the beginning of October and once in the beginning of April. Every day includes four lessons in a small group and afternoon activities. The price of this trip includes accommodations, sightseeing tours, a Sound of Music tour, a visit to a salt water thermal, dinner, and more. The cost is approximately $700.

Each school also arranges trips, either for sporting or cultural activities. The trips are a lot of fun to take part in; however, they are not included in Quest program fees.

Additional add-on trips are offered; however, details vary by season and year. Contact us for more information. These trips are not included in Quest program fees.

Program REQUIREMENTS

Students must have, at minimum, a basic level in the German language. Students that do not fulfill the German language requirements will be required to take German lessons or do private tutoring at an additional cost.

VISAS

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the Austrian consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes several weeks to obtain an Austrian visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our Austrian partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

Will students have access to Internet/WiFi at their home and school?

Yes, most homes will have WiFi, but schools usually do not allow for Internet access.

Can students bring their own cell phones?

Yes, if students have an unlocked cell phone, they could use their personal phone with an Austrian carrier/SIM card.

Can students travel without an adult chaperone if given permission?

Students cannot travel outside of the host area without adult supervision. Travel outside of the host area with adult supervision is authorized if pre-approved by the natural parents, host family, local partner office and Quest.

How much money should students have for spending money?

Students should budget around $250/month for personal expenses, which include entertainment, personal hygiene items, long-distance calls, etc. Additional money should be budgeted for start-up school expenses, such as books and supplies. These fees are in addition to Quest program fees.

What are some cultural norms that describe a typical host family in Austria?

Austrian host families are generally very warm-hearted and family-oriented. They tend to love nature and culture. Some are sporty, while others are more musically-inclined. Host parents work hard at their jobs, so they expect exchange students to be mature, independent and capable of making food for themselves. Though dinner will usually be had together as a family. The families share some general cultural characteristics, but they still vary widely. So, students should be open-minded and ready to adapt to their new host family dynamics.

How are host families chosen?

Quest’s in-country partner is responsible for locating, screening and matching host families with our students. Host families go through a careful screening process, which typically involves in-person interviews, home inspections and references.

How do students apply for the visa and how long does it take?

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the Austrian consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes several weeks to obtain an Austrian visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our Austrian partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

How will the student get to and from school?

Students will generally take the public transportation, such a the bus, train, underground or tram. Transportation fees are the student’s responsibility and are not included in Quest program fees.

Is it possible for students to get tutors during their program?

Yes, tutors are available and prices vary based on the subject and duration of tutoring sessions. But, it is generally about $20-$25/hour.

Can students receive an official document with grades and completed classes after finishing their program? 

Yes, exchange students in Austria can receive official documentation, including grades, but only if they are able to complete all assignments and exams in German. Otherwise, schools will give students a certificate stating that they have attended classes and completed a semester/year of study in Austria. In order to receive either of these documents, students must proactively seek them out. Obtaining this documentation is the student’s responsibility before s/he leaves Austria.

Do schools offer different sports/activities? 

Some schools have sports, music, cooking, and technical classes. In Austria, there are several music schools in each town as well as sport clubs.

THINK IT OVER

The rewards of life abroad are amazing and wonderful, but are you up for the unique challenges that come with this experience? You will be away from your friends, family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to. You will have to adapt to a new language, culture, school and family. You will have to make decisions on your own and make new friends. Think about it and do some research on the country you want to study in. There is a wealth of information on the Internet that can better prepare you for your adventure!

GET YOUR PARENT/LEGAL GUARDIAN ON BOARD

Your parent(s) or guardian(s) need to help you make your dream happen. The application process takes time and effort, so it is important, at this stage, to make sure your parents support your decision to study abroad and have given you approval to move forward. If they feel that you are prepared and understand what’s required from them, you are ready to move to the next step.

CHECK IN WITH YOUR SCHOOL

You may receive credit from your program, but it is your responsibility to make this happen. Only your U.S. school can decide which credits you can receive. You must approach your guidance counselor to determine if you can get the credits you are hoping to receive. Bring Quest’s Academic Guide with you, and be certain of what you will be responsible for.

CONTACT QUEST FOR PROGRAM INFORMATION AND PAPERWORK

Fill out our online information request form in order to receive important program information from Quest via email. This email will contain Quest’s Program Agreement and Program Guidelines for your review and signature. Carefully review all of this information with your parents and contact Quest if you have any questions. We are here to help guide you through the process so you can make decisions that fit your needs.

CONFIRM PROGRAM DETAILS

The Quest Program Coordinator will confirm with you the program details submitted on your original request form. If you’re unsure of your destination, we’ll help you narrow down your choices to the country and program season that works for you. We will speak with your parents and make sure that everybody feels informed and ready to proceed with the decisions made.

CONFIRM PAYMENT DETAILS

You and your parents will receive the online Payment Agreement, which states the total program price for your selected destination country and Quest’s payment process. Your parents will receive an invoice for the application deposit, which is due before you submit your student application.

COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION

Quest will send you a full student application for the program you have chosen. This application can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Make sure you give yourself ample time prior to the application deadline to complete the application and supplemental documents.

SKYPE INTERVIEW

This is when you get to meet your Quest Program Coordinator and talk face to (virtual) face. During the interview, the Program Coordinator will assess your suitability for the Quest Study Abroad program. This call lasts 30-60 minutes. Parents will speak with us at the end of the call, but the first part of the interview questions must be answered by the student alone. There is no preparation needed other than to talk about yourself, your desire to participate in the program and why you feel you are ready.

WAITING FOR ACCEPTANCE

Your Quest Program Coordinator will review your application and interview documentation to determine acceptance. Our team members put a lot of thought into the decisions they make, and not all students are accepted into the program. In order to make our decision, Quest must review complete and accurate application materials. We choose students who are emotionally, socially and academically prepared for the study abroad program. We look at each student’s level of maturity, independence and ability to adapt to life in a foreign country.

ACCEPTANCE AND INVOICE

You will receive a letter of acceptance from Quest via email. Your parents will receive an invoice outlining the total cost with only the first 50% of the total due within 10 days. The final 50% of the remaining program fees are due within 30 days of the invoice date.

GET LEGAL – VISA AND IMMIGRATION

This is a very important step in the process and can be very time-intensive. We suggest that you get started researching the requirements as soon as possible with the nearest embassy or consulate for your destination country, as requirements vary by location. Because the process does vary considerably, Quest and our foreign partner office are not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application. Start filling out all of the paperwork well in advance, as visa approval can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to obtain.

SCHOOL AND HOST FAMILY PLACEMENT

This is the hardest part: waiting for your school and host family placement information! Making quality placements takes time, and we will need your patience during this important step. Quest will notify you and your parents of a confirmed placement in a school and then again when you are placed with your host family. Write to your host family as soon as possible to introduce yourself, and let them know how excited you are to meet them.

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT

Working together with you and your parents, Quest will confirm your arrival date and book your roundtrip international flight to your placement area. We will also book your student travel and medical insurance for your trip, so you can rest easier while abroad!

PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION

Your Quest Program Coordinator will help you get prepped for your trip with a pre-departure orientation prior to your departure. You’ll receive an agenda before the call. We encourage you to write all of your remaining questions down so that we can make you and your parents feel prepared for your trip abroad. We will go over the program rules, what to pack, what to do if you need support once you arrive, and more!

LIVE YOUR STUDY ABROAD DREAM!

Congratulate yourself and your family for making this happen. You are on your way to the study abroad adventure that you’ve earned!

Balance your time abroad — keep in touch with those back home, but remember that the point of studying abroad is to be present and active in your host country. Keep a blog or an online photo album so you can show all of the revelations you have had and the sights you have seen. On a rainy day, you’ll be happy to reflect on your growing experience abroad. Stay in touch with Local Coordinators and with Quest. We’d love to hear how you are doing!

Programs Available
  • Year
  • Semester
  • 3 Months
  • 2 Months
  • 1 Month
Application Deadline
  • Year/Fall Semester: April 1st
  • Spring Semester: October 1st
  • Short-Term: Variable
Apply Now

Quest International, a nonprofit organization, promoting international cultural awareness and compassion by providing educational programs for American and International students to live and learn together.