Aachen Work Experience Exchange - Europäische Berufspraktika in Aachen

17 - 25 March 2004

Over an eight day period in March, accompanied by Phil Brown and his wife Celia, eight Sixth Form students undertook a working trip to Aachen Germany. During their stay they integrated into family and working life, stretching their command of German to its limit and beyond, gaining valuable experience and understanding in the process. This is what they have to say about their visit:

David Quinlan ...

Dieses Jahr fuhren ein paar Studenten mit mir nach Aachen. Aachen ist eine große Universitätstadt in der nähe von KöIn. Es gibt etwa 300,000 Leute die in Aachen Ieben. In der Mitte der Stadt gibt es einen großen, alten Dom und das gotische Rathaus. Ich bliebe mit einer Gastfamilie, die in dem Preuswald am Stadtrand wohnt. Während der Woche musste ich bei einer Zeitung arbeiten, die die Aachener Nachrichten heißt. Ich habe einen kleinen Artikel geschrieben, der veröffentlicht wurde. Es war sehr interessant und ich machte viel spaß in Deutschland.

We travelled to Germany from London by Eurostar and then took another train to Aachen through Belgium. We arrived at the train station in Aachen at about 10pm. The journey had been a total of 11 hours. We then met our host families and were taken from the train station to their houses. My host family was called Donay and they lived in a small flat in an area of Aachen called Preuswald. The next morning I started my work placement at the offices of the city’s newspaper, die Aachener Nachrichten. While I was there during the week I helped to write articles for the paper and I tailed some of the journalists around the town and watched them interview different people. I went to a car showroom, a school and a zoo.

We also had a lot of free time to spend in the town itself and so we got to know central Aachen quite well. We went to see the old cathedral, the gothic town hall and generally just wandered round the town. Aachen is a very clean city and it is run extremely well. The buses were always on time and the public facilities were excellent. The architecture, not only the old but the modern also impressed me as well.

I enjoyed my time in Aachen immensely and would definitely like to go back one day. I would very much recommend it as a city to visit.

Jack Keevil ...

Ich machte meine Arbeitspraktikum bei Musikhaus Jerusalem, das in der Stadtmitte liegt. Leider gab es nicht so viel zu tun and während eines Tages habe ich über funfzig Gitarren gestimmt.

My work experience placement was in a music shop in Aachen. The work itself wasn’t particularly fascinating but you do get to speak an awful lot of German and you come out of it with a lot of fairly obscure vocabulary (eg clarinet reeds, screwdriver, all the different parts of a guitar, etc.) Oh, and if you opt for a work placement like this and are asked to deliver orchestral scores to the theatre, it helps to remember that there are two theatres in Aachen, one of which doesn’t have an orchestra. We all make mistakes!

My ‘Gastfamilie’ lived in the Aachen equivalent of the Forest of Dean; ie: a long way from Aachen with buses that don’t come very often. They were extremely friendly and welcoming. I didn’t see my actual partner as much as the others saw theirs as he had swimming training camps or competition quite often but his two younger brothers were great fun and always eager to try and teach me more German. The exchange experience was a very valuable one and I finished feeling proud that I had managed to get through daily life speaking German. In fact when I was at ‘home’ I only spoke German.

Dan Dales ...

Hiya! My name is Dan Dales and I went on the work experience exchange trip to Aachen, Germany. I spent the week with a pleasant family and worked with a lawyer’s firm.

On the whole it was a good experience as I went to the courts and prison and also they let me finish early every day so I could sample the city life!

The trip was very well organised with many events arranged for us including a musical orchestra ..... not my scene so we left and went clubbin. Ideal!

Aachen was a really nice city and had a relaxing aura about it. Given the chance I would probably go back there, for various reasons, and I would recommend anybody stupid enough to take German A Level to go on the trip as it is amazing how much my spoken German has improved!

Gavin Hardy ...

Meine Austausch war ziemlich gut. Ich arbeitete in einem Umweltamt der Stadt Aachen. Ich habe viel uber Wasser gelemt, es war interessant. Aachen hat ein gutes Fussballmanschaft in der zweiten Bundesliga. Aachen ist eine fabelhafte Stadt.

I enjoyed Germany - it is a very clean country and the people are very friendly. One downside is that you have to get used to eating cheese and meat on bread for all your meals! It did give me a chance to try some German Wurst and some speciality goats cheese. I like the Conditerei because there are many different kinds of cakes to try. I think the food was probably my favourite part but I missed simple things like bacon.

Mehul Chavda ...

Ich hatte meine Arbeitspraktikum ins Ingenieurbüro verbracht. Obwohl ich jetzt kein Ingenieur werden will, habe ich viel uber das felden der Karten gelernt. Ich empfehle diese Ausflug für alle Leute, die ihre Deutsch verbessern wollen.

After a long strenuous journey, we were all tired and the nervousness had nearly been completely driven out of us. We arrived in Aachen at about eleven in the evening, after about eleven hours of travelling; after making a few ‘friends’ on the long but fun train journey we met our partners at the platform in the Aachener Bahnhof. At first I was very worried and full of fear that maybe my host family wouldn’t be very hospitable and I was preparing for the worst. Thankfully they were very nice and very welcoming and after a short introduction we all went to bed as we were all tired.

The four days working in the ‘Ingenieurburo’ (architect’s office) were interesting to say the least. I explored all the different mediums in which the designers and architects worked, including three dimensional models using CAD, large maps, models and many more. I enjoyed my time with the group and learnt many different skills, which have given me a detailed insight into engineering and especially the specifics of planning, designing and building motorways and similar things.

The highlights of the trip included meeting the Burgermeister of Aachen and visiting the famous cathedral of Aachen.

Sophie Longley ...

Wir fuhren nach Aachen um ein Arbeitspraktikum/Austausch zu machen. Ich habe mein Arbeitspraktikum bei ‘Kindertagesstätte des Studentwerks der Katholischen Hochschulgemeinde’ gemacht und ich habe viele gute Eindrücken bekommt.

After nearly missing the EuroStar, then another long train journey from Brussels, we finally arrived in Aachen. It wasn’t just a normal exchange though, we were all going to be doing a week’s work experience in the place of our choice. I chose to work in a Kindergarten and thoroughly enjoyed it, learning a great deal. I was amazed at how independent all the children were - I arrived on my first day to find 3-6 year olds helping to make pancakes!

Everyone there was so friendly and made me feel so welcome; I’d definitely do it again!

On the steps of the Rathaus -
Gavin, Jack, David, Sacha, Megan, Sophie, Mehul & Dan

Flying the Flag at the end-of-project party

David Quinlan mit Projects Direktor Herr Norbert Weitz

Enjoying a meal out zum goldenen Schwann

Die Goldstatue des Heiliges Nepomuk zum Haus Löwenstein

Gavin with his co-workers

Die Geldbrunnen in Aachen Zentrum

Megan und Rika


Megan zum Arbeitsplatz - die Mayer Buchhandlung

Pius Gymnasium's unofficial sign

Das Pius Gymnasium

Zum goldenen Schwann
Megan, Dan, Mehul, Sophie & Sacha

Das Rathaus

Sacha working at the editor's console for WDR

Das Printenmädchen

Aachen Cathedral


Dan arbeitet im Büro eines Rechtsanwalters

Der Klenkes

Work placements for the Aachen students

At Dowty Propellors

Holiday Inn

Kitchen Hand

More MFL Trips 

Article and Photos - PJB & die Austauschpartnern