Aston student blogger reporting from Austria

Christmas is everywhere! Birmingham is not the only place that can be proud of its beautiful Christmas market. Linz, the third-largest city in Austria, can also make you feel like Christmas was just a few days away. Beatrice from England has just had the chance to experience that first hand, enjoying Bauernkrapfen, berry punch and beautiful Christmas lights.

She is currently on her year abroad and has been blogging and vlogging about her experiences as a teaching assistant in Austria:

Celebrating W.G. Sebald at Literaturhaus Stuttgart

Uwe_sebaldRenowned German author and academic W.G. Sebald  would have celebrated his 70th birthday this week. To mark the occasion, Uwe Schütte, Reader in German at Aston, was invited to Literaturhaus Stuttgart to read from and speak about an aspect of Sebald’s work which is less familiar to most readers than his prose writing: his poems, created over more than four decades and mostly published posthumously.

To find out more about this event, click here.

#Arbeitnehmerfreizügigkeit: Full EU freedom of movement for Bulgarians and Romanians causes controversies in Germany and the UK

Bc-jd2hCUAAUd5aStarting this year, Bulgarians and Romanians whose access to the labour market in Germany and the UK had been limited since these countries joined the EU in 2007, enjoy the same freedom of movement as any other EU citizen. In fact this “Freizügigkeit” is one of the EUs fundamental principles and should form no grounds for debate. But the Bulgarians’ and Romanians’ right to settle and work in other parts of the EU – if they so wish – has been met with severe criticism and scaremongering in the UK and Germany.

Due to the lower standard of living in the these regions of Eastern Europe, it is feared by right-wing politicians (with the Bavaria’s CSU and the UK’s UKIP party being most outspoken about this) that Bulgarians and Romanians will want to move to more affluent countries within the EU with the main intention of claiming benefits whilst making no or little contribution to the economy. They are calling for measures to stop “benefit thieves” at the border.

In both the UK and Germany, regulations are already in place which restrict migrants’ access to state benefits during the first few months they spend in their new country and thereafter limit their entitlement to unemployment support. It is also a fact that, due to a low birth rate and lack of skilled employees, the German economy needs well qualified migrants, and that many people moving to Germany from Eastern Europe are educated to a high level. NTV explains the German situation in this article, and the Independent supplies everyone in Britain who wants to continue to believe that there will soon be a Romanian camping out in your own living room with this handy “guide to immigrant rhetoric“. The Guardian’s Jonathan Haynes has kindly provided his Twitter followers with this picture  of “hordes of immigrant Romanians and Bulgarians swarming through Kings Cross”. Be afraid, be very afraid. Bc5KQALIEAA4k0f


“Österreich ist frei!” – Celebrating the end of Allied governance

According to persistent legend, the last Soviet soldier left Austria on the 25th of October, 1955, ending the 10-year Allied occupation of Austria following the end of World War II. In reality, the Soviets had left in September, and while the British forces officially handed over the last occupied barracks on the 25th, a number of soldiers actually stayed on for some time. Still, October 26th has since been the country’s “Nationalfeiertag”, commemorating the culmination of Austria’s negotiations for self-governance. These talks had carried on for years until, on May 15th, 1955, the Foreign Ministers of Britain, France, the US and the Soviet Union officially signed the Staatsvertrag treaty. Afterwards, Austrian Foreign Minister Leopold Figl stood on the balcony of Belvedere palace, showed the signed treaty to the assembled masses and proclaimed, “Österreich ist frei!” (Austria is free!).

If you feel like celebrating this momentous day, you might want to seek out one of the Austrian cafés and restaurants run by ex-pats and fans of the “Alpenrepublik”. One such place is Kipferl, a café-restaurant in London, styled after the famous Viennese Kaffeehaus. With its delicious coffee, served properly with a glass of tap water, its selection of authentic savoury dishes and delectable cakes and German-speaking waiting staff, this lovely spot in Camden Passage in Islington really is ‘a little slice of home’ for Austrians abroad.

Right here in Birmingham, you can get your Austrian ‘fix’ at Franzls Restaurant, situated in leafy Bearwood. The menu includes Austrian classics and traditional dishes with a twist, some of which are testament to Austria’s imperial past, such as Cevapcici and Gulaschsuppe.


Know of any other Austrian culinary havens around the country? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to showcase them!

Learning German – Free German courses from Deutsche Welle

With the free German courses from Deutsche Welle, you can choose the learning style that suits you best: e-learning at the computer, with short videos, audio courses or podcasts, or with texts and worksheets you can print out. Select from courses for beginners, intermediate learners, and advanced learners. German language teachers are welcome to use our multimedia material in their lessons. The Course Finder helps you choose the best format for each level.

In the ‘Deutsche Welle NEWSFEED’ section on the right hand of our German at Aston Blog, you can find latest topics about Germany.


German Federal Minister for Education and Research loses her doctorate

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After a 9 months examination, the University of Düsseldorf revokes the academic title of Annette Schavan. In 2012, Schavan was accused of plagiarism in her doctoral dissertation which she wrote 33 years ago. Now Schavan is part of an ever growing number of politicians that lost there PhD since the first big scandal concerning Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg in 2011. At the time, Guttenberg was Germany’s Minister of Defence and same as Schavan a close confident of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Annette Schavan has been the German Federal Minister for Education and Research since 2005. A fact that makes the accusations of plagiarism even more outrageous. The last word though has not been spoken yet. Schavan announced that she will appeal her alma mater’s ruling.