New: German food without the umlaut

A few weeks ago, we came across a curious storefront in the Birmingham city centre: German Doner Kebab offers what has long been one of the most traditional “buy at midnight on the way home from the bar” meals in many German cities, and it does a very good job of replicating that quintessentially German culinary experience of the Döner: toasted flatbread, a crispy mix of salad and onions, a tasty garlic sauce and well-seasoned meat – beef or chicken, or a mix of both. They’ve dropped the Umlaut, but they get the food right – and even promise that Börek and Kartoffelsalat are “coming soon”. The fresh ingredients and authentic taste come at a price, but if you want a genuine taste of a German classic, give it a try!

German Doner Kebab
84 Bull Street

German Doner Kebab 1 German Doner Kebab 2 German Doner Kebab 4German Doner Kebab 3









Guest post: Life after graduation

Today’s guest post is from Ben Young, an Aston graduate who now lives in Munich.


Hawidere and Grüße aus München!

My name is Benjamin Young, I’m a 25 year-old Aston graduate who is currently living and working in Munich, southern Germany. I studied on the International Business & Modern Languages (IBML) BSc between 2008-2012 and moved back out shortly after graduating.

After initially moving to Munich in May 2012, I started working for the British Government at the Consulate General in May 2014. My day to day work is with the commercial arm of the Government, working for UK Trade & Investment, helping German firms invest into the UK and providing a route into (and through!) Government from a local perspective. My remit covers advanced engineering & manufacturing with a heavy focus on the railways, so I am often working with large German companies such as Siemens, Deutsche Bahn and BMW. The skills that I learned at Aston, and vitally the combination between applied business subjects and language skills, was really key to me hitting the ground running in this job.

The Ambassador’s Residence in Vienna – there is still always time for tea, even in Austria!
The Ambassador’s Residence in Vienna – there is still always time for tea, even in Austria!

Outside of my main duties there is more general, Consular work to be done to show off the UK to the Germans, widen our network and organize visits from British delegations. I was part of the organizing group for the HM Queen Elizabeth Royal State Visit earlier this year, and was fortunate enough to be with the delegation on the Frankfurt leg of the trip to the Roemer and historic city hall, and garnering a surprising amount of camera time! As well as this, we still organize a Queen’s Birthday Party each year (she is yet to attend), and I am often asked to represent the UK at interesting events such as the maiden voyage of the National Express trains linking Cologne, Bonn and …, from which I am writing this blog post- it’s a far shout from the old National Express coach station in Digbeth!

I feel very fortunate to have studied at Aston and there’s no doubt in my mind that it has helped me greatly so far in my career. Although I do occasionally feel the pangs of homesickness (as a season ticket holder at West Bromwich Albion, it has been particularly tough), I have at least been able to switch the Birmingham Christmas Markets for the real thing – and there is of course Oktoberfest!

I’m happy to speak with any prospective or current students or indeed upcoming graduates should you have any questions about working for the British Government overseas, moving countries or my course studies – please do feel free to get in touch.

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:

Adventures of German a placement student

Our placement student Marcus is currently working as a British Council teaching assistant in Regensburg, Germany, and has been blogging about his experiences in the southern wilds of Germany for the past year. His latest post lists “50 things we’ve learned about the Germans” and covers a wide range of topics, from bikes to yoghurt, from Glühwein to Lederhosen. Here’s a taste of his post, to read more, simply follow the link at the bottom:

50 things we’ve learnt about the Germans

So after spending over 9 months here in Germany we feel qualified to share a few observations that we’ve made about Germans. Whilst Germany is really very similar to England, there are lots of cultural differences that struck us as noteworthy. We managed to narrow these differences down to 50 observations and below are a list of things we have noticed during our time here – things that we find good, bad, maybe just strange. We (Lois and I) hope you enjoy this post. (Obviously this post shouldn’t be taken too seriously and is a light hearted look at certain parts of German society and different behaviours. Some of these observations are sweeping generalisations and unfair stereotypes and we understand this – please don’t be offended!)

1.       Germans love ‘kaffee und kuchen’

‘Kaffee und kuchen’ or ‘Coffee and cake’ is an important part of the day for many Germans. No matter what day of the week, if you walk past a German café you are sure to see some people enjoying this traditional German pastime. Moreover, it is often the case that people enjoy ‘kaffee und kuchen’ several times a week, if not every day! We’re aware coffee and cake is also popular in the UK, but here you can’t walk down a high-street without passing several signs advertising this popular German afternoon affair. (We’ve come to understand why this is so popular – German cake is delicious!)

To find out more, click here!

Guest Blogger: John Rogerson

Personal Profile

Welcome to my guest blog entry avid blog readers! My name is John Rogerson and I am on my year abroad year as part of the International Business and Modern Languages (German) programme at Aston! I am currently pursuing a 1-year internship at E.ON IT working in the “Strategy and Change” function of the organisation.

Life @ E.ON IT

Back in August, I began my internship at E.ON IT in the Group Wide Planning & Solutions unit located in Düsseldorf. The purpose of this department is to support the IT system within E.ON, checking the performance of the IT system on a daily basis thorough Key Performance Indicators as well as making the necessary adjustments to deliver the best IT system possible to employees. A large proportion of my tasks were working with the computer software SAP. Though very technical, there was definite steep learning curve working in this department:

  • Speaking German all day every day – eventually starting to dream in German!
  • Learning the technical concepts within SAP – This was tough going, in both English and German.

Around November time, I decided that I wanted to see more of the E.ON business. I have always had a real enthusiasm for strategy during my studies at Aston and therefore wanted to experience this side of E.ON during my year abroad. After clarifying this with the relevant persons, I moved to Hannover in January and now work in Strategy & Change of the energy conglomerate. After 8 weeks in this department, I can safely say this is an area in which I would look to pursue a future career. Within my role, I am responsible for the communication of the IT strategy of E.ON as well as the roll out of the E.ON ITs Dragons Den concept in Eastern Europe. The E.ON ITs Dragons Den, based on the television programme featuring entrepreneurs pitching their business ideas in order to secure investment finance from a panel of venture capitalists, enables employees to transform any innovative ideas which will benefit the firm into a tangible reality.

When I compare the differences between E.ON IT in Düsseldorf and E.ON IT in Hannover, I would say there is a somewhat laissez faire approach in Hannover. The dress code is more relaxed and there is a stronger emphasis on networking with colleagues.  I would summarise that E.ON IT Düsseldorf is closer to the delineation of what one would call “the corporate culture” which has a strong emphasis on results compared to that of the more “collaborative culture” here in Hannover.

Life Outside of E.ON IT

One real advantage of the working world compared to studying is once you finish work at 6pm the evenings are yours!

With Germanys’ central location in Europe, I real wanted to use this year to see as much of Europe as possible. During my year abroad, I have visited places such as Vienna, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Munich (for the famous Oktoberfest) to name just a few. With the explosion of low cost budget airlines, it makes trips like this affordable. Before I leave for England in August, Zurich, Brussels & Dresden are on my places to see list!

At E.ON IT in Hannover, there is a large emphasis on the recruitment of Duale Studenten. These are basically students who are studying for a bachelor who spend half of their time between working at E.ON and studying at a university near to Hannover. During my time at E.ON, I have been able to meet and get to know lots of the students which has been great, not only to form friendships, but also speak German in a more informal setting outside of the working environment. When I am in Hannover at the weekends, there tends to be some form of a social event with the students which is always good fun.

If I had to name the best thing about Germany, besides the beer, it would have to the food! The more time I spend in Germany, the more attention I have to pay to my growing waistline. From the well known Bretzels and Schweinehaxe to the Christmas specialty Gänsekeule, Germany is a Carnivores’ paradise!

Closing Comments

In order to summarise my blog, I wanted to in a few bullet points explain what is to gain from a year abroad.

  • Deepens your language capabilities – As you speak the language and live the culture day in, day out, this can do nothing but bring positive results for your competency in the target language.
  • Builds your confidence – Being immersed in a new culture, forming new friendships and speaking a foreign language helps strengthen confidence and builds your self esteem.
  • Improves future job prospects – The integral year abroad is highly valued by many employees. And with that bilingual edge, the world is your oyster!

Experiencing the German Style Christmas Market

The Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market opened a few weeks ago, and we have tried to understand it – here is what we, two German visitors, that is, observed. The following account offers subjective and very personal points of views only!

British people seem to associate a German Christmas market with three Bs: Beer, Berliner and Bratwurst. We have two pressing questions for you then:

1. Why would you want to drink cold beer in this freezing weather?

Christmas markets mean Glühwein and not Kölsch, Erdinger or Löwenbräu in huge Masskrügen – Glühwein, Tee or Kakao is fine, but beer is NOT! Isn´t it just too cold? Kurt Stroscher, the man who brought the Christmas market to Birmingham, explains: “We don’t have beer stalls, or wine stalls in Frankfurt – just stalls selling glühwein and other hot drinks. But Birmingham council specifically requested them, and they are by far the most popular stands here.”

So if you need to, go ahead and drink your beer in the cold (but only in specially marked “alcohol areas”, of course – that is another funny thing about the market) –  it makes us smile about you and makes you happy!

2. Are you aware of the fact that we adjust things to your taste here?

Apart from the beer on the market, the sweets seem to be different here, too. Berliner are not typically filled with minty chocolate pudding or covered in very pink icing that seems to contain more sugar than you need for an entire year…. really, they are NOT. Most of the time we eat them for New Year´s Eve and Fasching, but not for Christmas. It is customary to fill some with mustard on New Year´s and carnival though, which is probably weird for you (it is a joke and not very nice for the person finding him/herself biting heartily into the mustard-Berliner as it tastes very “special”, but the others do have a real laugh about it).

So, if you want to enjoy the Birmingham Christmas Market “German style”, do this:

Get in the festive mood with some nice German Christmas songs. Snuggle up in a coat and wander around the market stalls to eat some “gebratene Mandeln” and strawberries smothered in chocolate. Drink a nice cup of hot Glühwein, hot chocolate or a Feuerzangenbowle (but not too many of course) –  maybe even “mit Schuss” if they have it. Enjyoy some German food like Kartoffelpuffer, Bratwurst or Stollen! And then go home warm and filled with nice food to enjoy having done something really German 🙂

Do read more about German Christmas markets throughout the UK: The Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung


Andrew reporting from Frankfurt…

We have asked our students who are on their year abroad now or have just returned to tell us about their experiences in Germany/Austria/Switzerland. Our first guest blogger is Andrew, an IBML student who is currently on an internship placement at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt.


 We have asked our students who are on their year abroad now or have just returned to tell us about their experiences in Germany/Austria/Switzerland. Our first guest blogger is Andrew, an IBML student who is currently on an internship placement at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt. Here’s what he says:


“It’s been nearly two months since I started my 13-month placement with Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt and here, sitting at my desk, in Deutsche Bank Frankfurt, I’m going to briefly evaluate, of course not in the serious log-book sense, my 6 weeks at work and 10 weeks in the country.

I’d visited Germany quite a few times before, most recently having done a one month Geschäftssprache course last year in Berlin, before touching down on German soil, so the element of “not knowing what to expect” was never going to be there. Nonetheless I had, admittedly, heard quite a few negative comments, from German friends, about Frankfurt as a city and place to live. In the first 6 hours of my life in Frankfurt I came to the conclusion that they either hadn’t seen Frankfurt or needed to look a bit harder. The first things you notice are the buildings, New York like in their stature, which tower over a lively, diverse and, from my experience, ultimately friendly population. People spill out of the offices at the end of the day and fill the long stretch of bars and cafes which make up “Zeil”, the long street running through the centre of Frankfurt, a brief stroll down from the famous and hugely impressive “Alte Oper” concert hall, inaugurated in 1880, but obliterated in 1944 during WW2. The huge “My Zeil” shopping centre is one of the main points of interest, with an enormous two floor “Saturn” and the longest escalator I’ve ever seen, ascending the huge dome-like building, from which the best part of the city can be seen.

My only slight worry was my flat, as I had signed a contract and paid the deposit, without having ever seen it, having instead trusted an e-mail full of pictures to aid me in the decision making process. Fortunately, the flat turned out to be bigger, cleaner and in an even better area than expected. I live in the supposed “posh” area of Frankfurt, Westend, although it’s apparently only named “posh” because of the comparatively higher property prices, which, in comparison with some of those in England, really aren’t that bad. Before you ask, no, I won’t name the figure!

My first day at Deutsche Bank was 02.08, exactly one month after my arrival. With my suit on, for the first time in years, I had to bear the brunt of the brutal Frankfurt summer and navigate my way through the relatively complicated series of S-Bahns and U-Bahns and buses etc. I still don’t even know what the difference between them is. Anyhow, after picking up my ID card and the security staff accepting my intentions were nothing but innocent, I was let into the huge Deutsche Bank tower building in Eschborn, where I met the Aston student who I was replacing, who showed me to my place and wasted no time in starting my training. The whole experience was quite informal and I instantly liked the place, as well as the people with whom I work. There are a lot of jokes in the office, in contrast to the English people’s regular accusation of the Germans having no sense of humour. I’ve come to realise that they have quite a large amount of humour, but we simply don’t understand most of it, as numerous office joke chain e-mails in German, of which I have understood exactly none, have proved to me.  

So, what have I learned/achieved/understood in my first 6 weeks of work and 10 weeks in Germany? Well, firstly, the Germans keep things ruthlessly tidy. The bins here are tidier than most people’s houses in England. You are expected to sort your rubbish into categories and are doomed to live in exile if you don’t, at least in my block of flats. On a serious note, they are extremely “umweltfreundlich” here, which I have a great deal of respect for.  Secondly, speaking only from the point of view of a Deutsche Bank employee, they fully appreciate every attempt made to speak in German, which I have seldom avoided and learned a great deal in the process. Thirdly, the IBML placement year is, without a doubt, already the most insightful, interesting, useful, thought-provoking, career-inspiring and German thing I’ve ever done. I’ll be in touch to let you know how that continues.”