Theresa Zeissner

Theresa Zeissner
I had always wanted to take part in an exchange to England and Aston Business School has an excellent reputation both in official rankings and with students of my home university whose field reports I read. The family character of the University’s community and the broad course choice has been mentioned very often. When there were any problems or questions the members of staff always made an effort to help or at least to find the right place to go.

Aston is a very welcoming university and offers a lot of sports and social life in the middle of a vibrant city. People in the community of the university are friendly and helpful and it is great to be part of it.

Everything is very close together and if you don't feel like cooking there is a big cafeteria, a chip shop and some pubs just around the corner. I live in Lawrence Tower which is in the middle of the campus. There are twelve girls on my floor and I am happy as we are like a family. To live close together with many different people can be stressful, but in my case it is a lot of fun and everyone is caring for each other.

Birmingham is quite central in England and has good train connections to almost every bigger city. That makes it easy to see most of the rest of the country just by doing day trips. Also London is just one and a half hours away by train. From Aston Business School it takes just five minutes to the city centre where Birmingham offers a lot of cultural and entertainment opportunities.

Birmingham has a lot of cinemas and cultural places like the Art Gallery or Symphony Hall. The Bullring in the city centre is the best place to go shopping as it offers a lot of shops and cafes. Every evening there is something going on in some of the clubs in Birmingham. Broad Street is buzzing at weekends, but also the small bars in The Jewellery Quarter have a special atmosphere as there is often live music.

Of course you are more careful in a foreign country and a foreign city, but I never felt unsafe either on campus or in Birmingham. The streets from the city centre to the accommodation are still quite lively during the evening so there is no problem to walk alone.

The two Welcome Weeks before term started were a great opportunity to get to know the whole campus and make friends with other exchange and first year overseas students. The “Aunties” (second year students) did a great job to integrate everyone into the community and a lot of activities, e.g. trips to Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory or a fun park were provided. I think it was really easy to get to know new people from different countries in a short period of time.

The Students’ Guild planned many activities during the Welcome Weeks which were great. Many of my friends found jobs at the job centre and also the ARC office (Advice and Representation Centre) is very useful. I joined the music and catholic societies and did sports courses such as yoga in the Sports Centre. There is an overwhelming choice of societies where everyone can find a suitable one. It was actually hard to select the most interesting societies as the week has just seven days!

As an exchange student I have the opportunity to choose many diverse courses which I wouldn’t have done at my home university. This gave me the chance to have an insight into new areas. I have the feeling that lectures are up-to-date and the lecturers make an effort to provide a relation to real life. Some lecturers were busy and there was just direct instruction by the lecturer, but some were very interactive as well.

The atmosphere at Aston is really inviting. Lecturers seem to enjoy teaching at Aston and are responding to the students. My lecturers were always open for questions and took their time to get the material across. Especially in smaller classes the teaching was quite interactive and lecturers were patient with their class.

My year at Aston was full of new experiences and many encounters with people from all over the world. The DIYA ball of the Aston Hindu Society was a very interesting event I would never have visited in Germany. Even though I am not Hindu or Sikh it was a great experience to have an insight into a completely different culture. The dresses, food and music were very traditional and showed again the diversity of many cultures in Birmingham. I would recommend to everyone to step up to new experiences which are provided en masse at Aston University.

I think students are very open to new people and many British students were very helpful in my courses. I also heard about universities where there was a clear distinction between exchange and other students. At Aston you can feel the respect and equal treatment for everyone.