Only very few anten­nae orga­nize such a pro­fes­sion­al Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty as AEGEE-Aachen. The anten­na with the polar bears mas­cot is famous for its amaz­ing Ger­man lan­guage cours­es and its hos­pitable and crazy spir­it. In short: The Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty of AEGEE-Aachen is the per­fect mix of learn­ing and hav­ing fun. Also the par­tic­i­pants of last year’s course agreed: they gave the event such a great score that it became the third-high­est rat­ed Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty among more than 60 cours­es! Felix Goeke, main orga­niz­er of last year’s SU told the Gold­en Times why it was so per­fect. And Angelique Kurth, main orga­niz­er of this year’s SU revealed why this year it will also amaz­ing.

Felix Goeke

Gold­en Times: Your Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty was one of the top three SUs in 2017. How did you man­age this?
Felix Goeke: For me orga­niz­ing a good Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty con­sists main­ly of three key steps: First: Put up a real­is­tic plan for a real­ly great SU. Sec­ond: Find a team to do so. Third: Make sure you fol­low that plan.

Gold­en Times: So what was your plan, the first step, about?
Felix: The first step is the eas­i­est. Every­body knows what a great Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty needs, even though if it is a bit more dif­fi­cult when you decide to do a Sum­mer Course Plus SU with a Ger­man course on lev­el A2/B1. 18 hours of Ger­man lessons per week is a big bumper for that what could be sum­mer hol­i­days on a trav­el SU. So we put a lot of fun activ­i­ties around the Ger­man course: danc­ing lessons, par­ties on dif­fer­ent loca­tions, camp­ing at a lake, vis­it­ing oth­er cities and so on.

The lan­guage course was extreme­ly pro­fes­sion­al.

Gold­en Times: Sounds per­fect!
Felix: We real­ly had a very stuffed pro­gramme plan, some par­tic­i­pants even com­plained that they don’t get enough sleep. We real­ized that in the sec­ond week where near­ly every­body start­ed sleep­ing on any spot as soon as they had five min­utes free time. But hey SU also means get­ting out of your com­fort zone. Our eval­u­a­tion score proofed us right.

Gold­en Times: I com­plete­ly agree! So what about the sec­ond step, the right team?
Felix: Step two is a bit more dif­fi­cult. Dur­ing the whole time we had 14 polar bears who want­ed to be part of the organ­is­ing team and we end­ed with a team of 11 organ­is­ers. At first I wor­ried that we might lose the team spir­it through some team changes, espe­cial­ly trough late join­ers. But we’ve been such a great team that we all took a danc­ing les­son our­selves just one day before our SU start­ed. I have to praise my team at this point! My two favorite meet­ings were: once when we chat­ted 20 min­utes long before we start­ed and drank a beer togeth­er after­wards before going home — dur­ing exams peri­od! The sec­ond per­fect meet­ing was when nobody had much time on that day and we fin­ished the whole meet­ing in 40 min­utes. Also very impor­tant: dur­ing the SU you have to build a team with your par­tic­i­pants.

Come and fall in love with Aachen!

Gold­en Times: How did you man­age to achieve this uni­ty?
Felix: We planned with 25 par­tic­i­pants and we had 26 appli­ca­tions. But we accept­ed just 21. Sim­ply because we couldn’t see how the five we reject­ed could fit into our SU team. We knew that when some­one writes he needs 10 hours of sleep per night, he’s sim­ply wrong at our SU.

Gold­en Times: What about the third step, the per­fect plan?
Felix: “A plan that can­not be changed is a bad plan.” “No plan, no mat­ter how good it is, sur­vives the first con­tact with real­i­ty.” These two say­ings in mind, you know things will go wrong and that’s okay as long as you can man­age. We had a good orga­ni­za­tion, near­ly every­thing was writ­ten down on struc­tured sheets. Not just online; I also always had a fold­er with me. Still, to keep your SU run­ning as you planned it is actu­al­ly the hard­est part. It gets even trick­i­er when your par­tic­i­pants get tired, your hosts get sick, your helpers don’t want to fol­low the plan or when some­body sim­ply for­gets some­thing. In the end we could solve every prob­lem that appeared.

The team spir­it was amaz­ing

Gold­en Times: Did your par­tic­i­pants notice the adap­tions of the plan?
Felix: I think most prob­lems were not even rec­og­nized by the par­tic­i­pants. By the way: Prob­lems are real­ly fun when you have the solu­tion ready even before some­one tells you there’s a prob­lem. Those moments were def­i­nite­ly my favorite ones as it’s just awe­some when you can say: “Don’t wor­ry, I am pre­pared for that.”

Angelique Kurth

Gold­en Times: Thanks a lot for the great insight into last year’s SU. What’s the main top­ic of your Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty in 2018? And why did you choose it?
Angelique Kurth: Our focus will lie on our well-estab­lished lan­guage course since we want to cher­ish Aachen’s tra­di­tion of 30 years. Also, as last year’s “extreme Ger­man” course was such a suc­cess, this year we want to make it even big­ger and — most impor­tant­ly — extremer, all with the help of our cud­dly polar bear of course!

Gold­en Times: Can you tell us more about the aca­d­e­m­ic part of your SU?
Angelique: Obvi­ous­ly for us the biggest aca­d­e­m­ic part will be the lan­guage cours­es and work­shops giv­en by our expe­ri­enced train­ers and Ger­man teach­ers. More­over there will be excur­sions to his­tor­i­cal­ly impor­tant places in and around our beau­ti­ful city where our par­tic­i­pants will get to learn more about AEGEE, Ger­man cul­ture and Euro­pean goals.

There are always great excur­sions at the Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty in Aachen

Gold­en Times: Let’s talk about the sum­mer aspect of your Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty. What are the three main pro­gramme high­lights in this area? And which cities or land­marks will you vis­it?
Angelique: Next to all this learn­ing there will of course be a grand focus on the sum­mer and fun part of our SU! The first week­end will all be about get­ting to know each oth­er and we will do this in our pic­turesque neigh­bour­ing coun­try Bel­gium. Our SU wouldn’t be com­plete with­out our leg­endary, Eras­mus-proofed pub­crawl. Anoth­er high­light will be in the great city of Düs­sel­dorf, where the local anten­na will help prepar­ing an awe­some pro­gramme and where we will actu­al­ly sleep in …drum roll… a church!

Gold­en Times: What will you improve in your SU com­pared to 2017?
Angelique: It is a plea­sure to say that Aachen real­ly stocked up on train­ers so we will include some real­ly pro­fes­sion­al work­shops. Any­way it is an hon­our to step into the foot­prints of such a suc­cess­ful SU and we hope and are obvi­ous­ly pos­i­tive that this year will be just as awe­some, just a lit­tle extremer!

You meet see plen­ty of polar bears — big and small!

Gold­en Times: Can you say a cou­ple of words about your anten­na: what makes it spe­cial?
Angelique: AEGEE-Aachen was estab­lished 30 years ago. From then on we grew con­stant­ly, and today we count over 160 awe­some mem­bers work­ing on many projects. One of our biggest projects at the moment is the ori­en­ta­tion week for Eras­mus stu­dents com­ing to Aachen for the next semes­ter and of course plan­ning for the SU in full swing. But the most spe­cial thing about our anten­na is def­i­nite­ly our famous and beloved polar bear, which can­not just be found in the Arc­tic Ocean, but in Aachen as well!

Gold­en Times: Where can inter­est­ed peo­ple find out more about your SU?
Angelique: At the main Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty page as well as at our home­page. A Face­book page will also be avail­able soon, so stay tuned!

Gold­en Times: Do you have a mes­sage to poten­tial appli­cants?
Angelique: Bear shirts and bear cups are still avail­able! You are always wel­come in Aachen — so come and catch some and be part of the next tremen­dous­ly huge and orig­i­nal­ly Ger­man SU — which will be fun, even if we Ger­mans are not par­tic­u­lar­ly known for it! ;-)

The Sum­mer Uni­ver­si­ty will make you move!