Student story: A summer school in a future farm city in the south of Vienna.

Camila Narbaitz Sarsur from the 11th intake shares her summer school experience.

Choosing what to do during the summer break is a challenge and a big decision for every student in the Cartography Master. While a break is more than needed and deserved, three months of holidays sounds attractive to explore Europe, do an internship or, why not, keep on studying. The latter was one of my choices, so this post is going to describe my experience in a summer school.

Summer schools are quite popular in Europe and there exists a great variety of topics. Spending time with an interdisciplinary team of students, teachers and professionals is something present in all of them. This diversity makes team learning and discussions super rich. Furthermore, summer schools are helpful to start building a network in the field of your interests.

After a bit of research, I joined a program from the University of Applied Arts of Vienna. Yes, I must admit I was a bit tired of technical universities. Moreover, as I have a background in architecture and urban studies, I wanted to come back to my roots. The one I chose was the “Social Design Summer School – hands on material and immaterial resources in urban futures”. It dealt with the topic of public spaces and participatory strategies. Moreover, it was located in a future agricultural city in the outskirts of Vienna. And the main focus of the week were the resources of the place: natural, historical, and cultural, graspable, material and immaterial. 8 days, 8 students from all over the world, 12 lecturers from different European universities who participated in different input sessions, 4 workshops followed by fruitful exchange and discussions, and a lot of hands in clay. Sounds challenging and tough, right? But no, it was more fun than anything. Every night we had different activities: music or movie sessions, bonfires, or a nice dinner all together.

To give you a clearer idea of how the week developed, I will explain it more in detail. The week started with an introduction to Zukunftshof, the place where we were staying and to the snail farm which exists next to it and takes part on the project. I totally recommend visiting it during your semester in Vienna. Even though we had different activities, the main one was working with clay. Digging and preparing it to build different artifacts, as the plates for the closing dinner. We also had one day with Schwimmverein Donaukanal, an association with the goal of revitalizing the Danube Canal as a swimming spot in the city center of Vienna. Another day, we talked about the topic of exploratory interventions in public areas and street furniture. Finally, we also had one day about trust making during which four different professionals talked about how to build trust in communities through community and participatory projects.

In general, the week was super stimulating, in my case, to discover what is happening in Europe in topics I am interested in and get to know people outside the Cartography master.

You can find some different summer schools through this link. Or the one I did here. Another way is to go to the website of the university you are interested in and look what they have. Something to consider is that the sooner you start, the less applying deadlines you are going to miss.