Barbecue in January? You think it’s crazy? It’s not, as the success of the first open-air barbecue of AEGEE-Aachen on 19th of January proves. 70 AEGEE members and Erasmus students of the city of Charlemagne attended the event and had great fun. This is only one of many activities that the Aachen-based branch of Europe’s largest interdisciplinary students association offers every year. The Golden Times asked Dominik Stengele, Speaker of the Erasmus Working Group of AEGEE-Aachen, what else awaits the many Erasmus students in his city.

Dominik Stengele
Dominik Stengele

Golden Times: Dominik, AEGEE-Aachen already opened the barbecue season. Isn’t that a bit crazy? It’s winter!
Dominik Stengele (laughs): Is there even such a thing as a wrong time for a barbecue? No, seriously, the current weather conditions in Europe make people wonder if winter has been suspended this year. There hasn’t been any snow in Aachen yet and believe it or not: the sun was shining on Sunday! We were very lucky because the weather forecast predicted a slight chance of rain and we were prepared to have the barbecue inside, but as we saw the great weather on Sunday, we were very happy to have it outside. And even though the wind was a bit icy, the sun alongside the hot meat and sausages summed up to a great atmosphere for this kind of event.

Golden Times: When did you do it, how many people were there?
Dominik: The barbecue took place on Sunday, January 19th at noon, just a week after all the international students came back from the Christmas break and were happy to have an opportunity to meet up and see each other again. We had about 70 people attending in total, which exceeded our expectations. Luckily, we managed to provide enough bread and salad for everyone.

Golden Times: What did the participants think about winter barbecue?
Dominik: If you take a look at the photos, you will see many very satisfied faces. And our rules that apply to every event we plan is: If the people liked it, they should tell all their friends. And if they see room for improvement, they should tell us. And we haven’t received any complaints so far whatsoever.

Aachen Barbecue
Big success: the AEGEE-Aachen barbecue

Golden Times: Will you repeat it soon? In winter or spring?
Dominik: Since I love barbecues, I am definitely going to use my grill more often in the next weeks. However, there is no large Erasmus barbecue scheduled for the next weeks. But the event was a huge success and people really enjoyed it, so we will definitely host another barbecue at some time in the future.

Golden Times: This was an activity for Erasmus students. How important is it for AEGEE-Aachen to take care of Erasmus students?
Dominik: AEGEE-Aachen does more than just take care of Erasmus students. AEGEE is the largest student network in Europe, with more than 13,000 members in 200 cities in 40 countries. We organise trips, catch up with other AEGEE antennae and organise the famous Summer Universities, which are some kind of a short-term Erasmus for everyone. Besides, we also do everything we can to make the time in Aachen as pleasant as possible for the international students, which is equally important to us.

Aachen Barbecue3
70 people came to the barbecue

Golden Times: How many Erasmus students are actually studying in Aachen? And how many of them do you reach with your activities in Aachen?
Dominik: At the moment, there are about 420 international students at RWTH Aachen University, which includes both students on the Erasmus programme and others from overseas, and there are some more on the FH Aachen, Aachen‘s second largest University. And this does not include the numerous foreign students who came to Aachen for the whole of their studies. The international flair in this city comes as a surprise to most and is truly amazing. I can highly recommend visiting it.

Aachen erasmus logo
AEGEE-Aachen offers many services to Erasmus students

Golden Times: What are the main services or activities that AEGEE-Aachen offers for Erasmus students? Excursions, administrative help, etc…
Dominik: We believe in Europe. And we try to contribute to a more unified Europe by connecting people and, thereby, cultures. We therefore try to help all international students as much as we can. The first thing we do is recruiting tutors and assigning randomly mixed groups of international students to them. So the students have someone to turn to who helps them with absolutely everything they need, starting with basic things such as registering in Aachen, finding one’s way around, knowing where to get good food and great drinks, getting a SIM card for their phone, answering all kind of questions about the university and everything else they need. In addition, we organise weekly social drinks, where they can meet all the other international students, tutors and AEGEE members. And AEGEE-Aachen initiated the Erasmus Working Group which focusses particularly on planning, scheduling and organising amazing events so the students will never forget their time in Aachen.

Aachen Oktoberfest
The AEGEE-Aachen Oktoberfest was the most successful activity for Erasmus students in 2013

Golden Times: Can you tell us which is the most popular or biggest Erasmus activity of AEGEE-Aachen?
Dominik: The best thing about our Erasmus events in Aachen is the huge variety of different events we are organising for all the international students. The only thing all our events have in common is that they are fun so the students enjoy their time in Aachen as much as possible. Talking about numbers of attendees, one of the largest events was our Erasmus Oktoberfest last year.

Also the Sexy Christmas event was very successful.

Golden Times: What’s the next activity that you organise for Erasmus students?
Dominik: Within the next two weeks, there will be more great events such as a large Erasmus party in a well-known club in Aachen, a movie night at which we show German productions with English subtitles and even a skiing trip which is particularly amazing since some of the international students never tried winter sports so far seeing that they come from warmer and sunnier countries. In February, we will go hiking in Belgium, have an Erasmus speed dating on Valentine’s day and relax with classical board games. In March, the students will have plenty of fun with the traditional German carnival, a visit to Brussels and more. And we have more amazing in events in the pipeline, which are about to be announced.

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