Written by: 
Paulina Bednarek Sunday, 25 April, 2021 - 11:25

Section in the Spotlight - ESN Uni Wien

What makes our section really special is the atmosphere of support and encouragement. (...) I got this team spirit when I joined the section and found it the most captivating. Your ideas, feedback... that’s all welcome.

Unusually motivated, strong and led by creativity. The creators of their own podcast for international students. That’s ESN Uni Wien - the latest winner of Section in the Spotlight! Let’s get to know  them  better.

Starting with...

The outbreak of the pandemic couldn’t be easy for anyone. But it didn’t shut ESN Uni Wien down. On the contrary, the section felt empowered, filled with energy to react at once. It was obvious to them that they needed to help out incoming students, starting from translating governmental information, up to answering any questions that came up during uncertain times. While many of their well-established activities were adapted to fit an online format, some of them had to  be paused until further notice. They got used to the new reality. And new ideas came.

"When someone just starts, the others jump in. And then, it becomes one movement for the whole team", says Tamara, the former President and long-experienced member of the section, about the reorganisation of the section in the first months of the pandemic. 

The team met every two to three weeks online, where their main focus was on brainstorming new ideas and keeping the routine of seeing each other regularly. Their overall work is based on two main features: information and entertainment. With this in mind, ESN Uni Wien aims at giving their international students the best experience ever - even during an online semester.

The Ideas That Bring Fireworks and Joy

The podcast ESN Uni Wien On Air kicked off  in March 2020. At the beginning, the concept was mostly informative, to provide the most important information oriented towards a pandemic situation. However, the start wasn’t a bed of roses. When the launch hadn’t brought the expected results, the team re-designed its main concept.

"The idea just came to us at some point. We had to spend some time  thinking, actually. The question always was: what were the incoming students interested in, first of all? Second, how can we design the content people want to listen to? The number of listeners was a direct feedback to us",  says Becki, who is the section’s Communications Manager and one of the coordinators of  the podcast.

Overall, a great amount of effort was put into it. By means of the podcast, the section hopes to connect with others, to build up cooperations within Vienna’s sections and even further. But let’s not forget about the podcast's main target audience: the incoming students. Entertaining them and showing them the possibility of discovering the city of Vienna, together with Austrian traditions,are the highlights of the podcast. 

What’s more, they set up a Linktree on their Instagram profile to provide a quick overview of the most relevant projects and initiatives like Facebook events or ESN campaigns. Moreover, the current governmental regulations and some general tips for international students in Vienna can be found there as well.

The Superpowers

The section of ESN Uni Wien is diversified - it is one of the features that makes them stand out. Board Members have a keen eye on the talents of their team members and they know exactly how to distribute them among the whole section to allow members to develop and improve. Also, the day-to-day communication is held in English.

Every semester they organise a teambuilding event for the whole team - one weekend full of activities to strengthen the team bond as well as to educate themselves on certain topics. Due to the current circumstances, this had to be moved to online workshops. Passing on the knowledge to the new generations and growing together as a team is an important goal of the section. 

This semester, the estimated number of international students at the University of Vienna  is around 500. To keep up contact with the incoming students, ESN Uni Wien manages several social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. For their online events, they set up a Discord server which they use for e.g.  Weekly Quality Time, Game Nights, Yoga / Cooking Workshops, etc. 

Keeping Up With the Well-Being of Members

What helps members not to be glued to the screen all the time? Their solution to that is quite simple: going for a walk, eating healthily (well, almost always),fighting with parents (sometimes), keeping themselves occupied and busy (very often). The members are aware that they are in the pandemic together, therefore they need to stick together.

The Cherry On Top

This year, the section turns 25 years old! This occasion brings a range of special activities that are on their way in the next months to celebrate the section’s anniversary and thank their members and alumni. Besides, the team put importance on the Causes of ESN. Two team members even took part in this year’s edition of the Eduk8 starter training programme, which focused on the question of how ESN can better support LGBTQI students and youth. They want to further implement the gained knowledge into the section’s activities in the future.

The section also promotes environmental and cultural awareness. Their project 'ESN Uni Wien Green Week' educates on sustainability and global challenges by providing  eco tips and eye-catching materials, whereas through 'Austrian Culture Week' they give useful insights into Austrian cuisine, cinematography, language, music, listerature, and history. 

"We are all a bunch of people who are open-minded. We are always excited with the ideas of new-joiners, and we let them implement it ", adds Tamara.

ESN Uni Wien shares the spirit and the passion which is everything ESN is about. As ambassadors of Erasmus Generation, they are the best in creating memorable experiences for the international students coming to Vienna.Moreover, they stay determined in enriching the experience of mobility to a higher level. All in all, there should be no surprise about putting them under a  spotlight, right? Way to go, ESN Uni Wien!

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