Michael Sikic is a Canadian born Croatian living in Klagenfurt, Austria striving toward a master’s in Media and Convergence Management. We interviewed him and talked about Austrian traditions, his studies and his life in Klagenfurt.
Why did you decide to study at all? Was it clear from the beginning what you want to study?
Somewhere between a manager dangling a carrot of potential promotions in my face, just barely acquiring my Croatian citizenship after a 10 year struggle and my first and second bottle of wine on a Friday night with friends, I asked myself – what do I want in life? So, in my mid-30s I decided to focus on myself. Something I should have and could have done earlier, but sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles. And that’s an important note, it’s never too late to focus on yourself, build yourself up to be something better than you are or were. Don’t forget your past but focus on your future.
That’s when my search for a master’s programme in Europe began. Scrolling through the various MBA style programmes across the continent, I stumbled upon a forward-thinking interdisciplinary programme that combined my business background, my interest in technology and my love of media and culture – the Master Media and Convergence Management at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt.
Tell us a memorable AAU anecdote!
Being a mature student – or at least a bit older than the class average – it was always a gas when I’d walk into a room full of chitter chatter and there would be complete silence as I walked across the front of the room. I would turn and look at my fellow classmates, all eyes on me, realizing they thought I was the professor of the lecture.
One time, I put my bag down on the desk in front of the class and said “Good morning class and welcome to Human Sexuality 201!” (which by the way was a very informative course I took in my bachelor studies). Blank faces gawking at me processing what I’ve just said, a few checking the room number and lecture, one classmate got up to leave – I quickly followed with “Ha – ha! Just kidding, I too am a student!”. I believe this was when I learnt the difference between Austrian/German and Canadian humor, as there was no retort of laughter. Tough crowd.
Which subjects do you like and why? What do you like most about your studies?
I’d have to say, and I think this resonates with many people, that my favourite subjects are the ones I expect to be a total bore but the turn out to be very interesting and rewarding.
There was this one course, Games Development, that I was really hesitant to take – I think the last game I’ve played was Mario Kart on my friend’s N64 – nonetheless, I went to the first class to see what it was all about. As luck would have it, that semester they modified the curriculum to include analog (board) games and from that moment on, I was hooked. With a new teammate, soon to become good friend, we crafted a beautiful game based on a certain notorious Bavarian beer festival, which we called “OKTOBER RENNEN” – look for it soon in a toy shop near you! Joking aside, that’s what I like most about my study – especially in a foreign country – the networking taking place and the connections you make with people from all over the world that are brought together in one place for a common goal.
Has your view of the world changed through your studies?
In this age of media saturation, Lord, my view of the world changes from day to day. That being said, when we can focus on studying in an academic environment with open minds from across the globe, we gain further depth on the issues near and far. When we have the opportunity to not only listen to the news but hear the first hand unredacted experiences of people from a current “hot spot”, we get a more rounded picture of the situation not only in that one area, but of the world as a whole. We’re all human, we’re all connected, we’re all in this together.
How do you explain the contents of your studies to your family or friends?
Oh Lordy, that’s a good one! The difficulty of explaining the contents of my studies really lies in the depth of understanding of the person I’m talking to.
If I told my grandmother, “Baka, it’s simple, I’m studying the:
…fields of technical, media, content-related and cross-industry convergence. End devices such as smartphones and tablets take centre stage in technical or media convergence. Content-related convergence relates to the multiple use of content (e.g. film, computer games, books with similar themes/contents) and cross-industry convergence relates to the blurring of boundaries in the TIMES sector. Razumiješ li me? (Do you understand me?)”,
I know although she nods “yes” and sips her coffee thoughtfully, in her head she is thinking “what the heck did he just say? I should go baste the roast again…”
This is the reason why, when someone asks me, what does that mean Media and Convergence Management (which happens more often than not) I give them the following very simplified explanation and answer:
„Let’s say you have a message, a message you want to communicate within the easiest and simplest way to the most people you can – that’s what we’re trying to do. We want to make sure your message is being effectively communicated to those who you want it to be communicated to, whether it be via computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone or whatever else. There’s a lot of technical stuff going on in the background, but leave that to us and the subject matter experts we work with – just rest; assured your message will be delivered and understood.“
Why did you choose Klagenfurt to study? What do you like about the city?
Klagenfurt is the perfect place to study – the weather is fantastic, the natural beauty that surrounds us is breathtaking, the location is ideal for a day (or two) trip to several nearby countries, the people are warm and welcoming – and although you have all these things to enjoy, you can still find time to focus on your studies in a quiet and distraction free environment.
There are so many things I like about Klagenfurt, it is such a great city in the heart of the beautiful province of Carinthia – but one of my most favourite things in Klagenfurt is Benediktinermarkt. This is a farmer’s market that occurs daily, but you really want to go Saturday mornings when it’s in full swing. You can find farm fresh produced eggs, meats, and cheeses from Carinthia and its bordering countries (Slovenia and Italy). You can enjoy some of the freshest and finest home baked goods, share a few laughs with friends over a drink, listen to some live music or pick up a variety of herbs and flowers for your garden or balcony. And don’t forget to try one of the mouth-watering Suppen (soups) in the covered hall which is open year round!
Why should one study here?
Why wouldn’t you want to study where people come for vacation? After a hard day of studying at the university there’s nothing better than taking a dip in the aquamarine waters of the Wörthersee, or climbing one of the many readily available mountain peaks, or getting chased by Krampus* at the Christmas market, or how about a carnival weekend in Venice? All of that and more is at your doorstep when you study at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt.
*Krampus is a half goat/half demon that accompanies St. Nicholas during the Christmas season to punish the bad children by lashing them with sticks and locking them in cages.
What do you look forward to when you arrive at university?
Once you made the conscious decision to attend post-secondary, you’ve decided to open your mind to higher learning, exciting challenges and new experiences. While all of these are very important to me during my time at the Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt, collecting new experiences and meeting new people is paramount.
In a world where borders are shifting and views are not always black and white, it is important for us to be able to see things from the other side – or at least another side. If we surround ourselves with people that share the same tastes, believe in the same things, even speak the same language as us – we’re not learning a whole lot. But if we put ourselves in an environment in which people have differing tastes, beliefs and languages – there’s a lot we can learn from one another, and more importantly, about ourselves.
What would be important advice to share with AAU freshers?
Jump first, ask questions later – not off a bridge of course! Take a risk! You only live once and what is the worst that can happen? University is about exploration, stumbling upon new and exciting things, and making mistakes in a safe environment.
If I could go back and tell my younger self one thing as I began my post-secondary journey it would be exactly that. Put your fear, doubt and anxiety in a little bag in the back of your mind closet and be free to do what you want to do: join the Queer club – who cares what anyone says? Take that „women in literature“ course – who cares if you have a penis? Grill a pineapple and put hot sauce on it – who cares if it doesn’t conform to a western diet? Kiss people – why didn’t we kiss more people?!
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? In which field do you want to work?
Sipping on a robust glass of Syrah as I run my fingers through Marco’s hair and take in our vineyard as far as the eye can see during a perfect violet and coral sunset… It’s important to note that Marco is my rescue pup I’ve adopted after not being able to find the right person by forty.
There’s no sage advice or thoughtful life path plan to accompany this dream – this is where I want to see myself in 10 years and whichever field will get me there is the one I’ll take. You do you, boo boo!