Universität Wien

Our taxes were a nightmare this year. Matt’s dad helped us navigate the paperwork, and to thank him, I went hunting for a thank-you present from the university’s gift shop today. (Shhh, Nancy, don’t tell him!) The only problem was that I had no idea where to find the university’s gift shop. (Go ahead, try and Google it.)

So this afternoon, I set off on an adventure through campus. Along the way, I couldn’t help but compare Universität Wien to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Founded in 1365, Wien is the institution that gave us Sigmund Freud, Erwin Schrödinger, Karl Popper, Erik Erikson, and a bazillion other heavy-weight intellectuals. A place with that kind of history must have a campus that puts our favorite American university to shame, too, right? To find out, I made a match up: Wien versus UW-Madison.

Sure, UW’s got Bascom Hall. But Wien’s got “Main Building.”


It’s imperial, both inside and out. Heck, it gives the Wisconsin State Capitol a run for its money in terms of marble staircases and opulent ceilings. (Had to take photos with an iPhone; sorry for the low quality on these.)

UW has two student unions. But Wien has “Campus,” a series of walled courtyards that contain about a half dozen biergartens, along with classrooms and student services. Note that in Austria, your academic title also corresponds to the beer you should be drinking. Magister (master’s) = marzen, Doktor (PhD) = pils, and Professor = malz.

UW has a statue of Abe Lincoln. Wien has a statue of Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor.


UW has the Arboretum. Wien has trees you can actually climb.


UW has Babcock Hall ice cream. I admit, that was a tough one to beat. But Wien’s campus offers ice cream AND BEER.


UW has a brutally ugly coal plant on campus. Wien has an environmentally friendly incinerator designed by the famous architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. (Matt works in the white building.)


UW lies in the shadow of Carillon Tower. Wien lies in the shadow of the, um, “Fool’s Tower.” More formally known as the Narrenturm, this former asylum for the mentally ill now houses a pathological anatomy collection that includes thousands of specimens of physical abnormalities preserved in formaldehyde. Hmm.

UW has its iconic Union Terrace chairs. Wien has … graffiti benches. Yes, people do use these.


UW has Lake Mendota. Wien has this tiny fountain. Whatever. Did I mention the half dozen biergartens?!?


Anyway, at long last, I found the gift shop. I was looking for something equivalent to the UW Bookstore, so I accidentally walked right by Wien’s official “gift trailer” in front of Main Building.


T-shirt achieved.


2 thoughts on “Universität Wien

  1. Very funny and well done. A gift trailer eh? It is shiny. Hard to beat us ‘Mericans in the marketing department. I am sure he will love whatever you found. Founded in 1365…MCCCLXV. A very fine year.

    Liked by 1 person

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