Student Profiles from Europe

Nataliya Karmadzhieva
Nataliya Karmadzhieva

Nataliya Karmadzhieva, BSc Human Resource Management 

"When I was starting my preparation to apply for a university abroad, I was looking for one that will allow me to develop new and existing skills, enhance my experience and provide me with a range of opportunities."

Aston is a long established university known for its world-class reputation and teaching quality. It is a university committed to providing the highest quality education to students. When I received an offer from Aston I was delighted that I was given the opportunity to study in a top university with constantly high graduate employability rankings (currently higher employability ranking than Oxbridge) and student satisfaction rankings (over 80 %).  Another reason to choose Aston University was the opportunity to do a placement year, throughout which I could gain valuable work experience, develop my knowledge, put the theory I have already studied into practice.

My programme – Management and Strategy – is a really flexible programme, providing students with the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects. Throughout my two years at university I have been studying modules like Accounting, Finance, Economics, Law, Human Resource Management, IT, Business, Government and Society, Enterprise Resources Planning which really enabled me to gain knowledge related to various business areas. 

The workload and the timetable were well organised, there were a number of different tutorial times which students could visit so flexibility was allowed. Academic staff has been highly supportive and approachable. There is also a really diverse mixture of students from different cultures in my programme. 

I have been given the opportunity to make friends with people from different backgrounds, share experiences which helped each other settle better in Aston and Birmingham. I have now become more culturally aware and responsible.

During my time at Aston I have been involved in a number of activities and societies. In my first year, I was part of ATIS – Aston Trading and Investment Society; I was also the social executive for SIFE Aston (Students in Free Enterprise). I was involved in the Peer Mentoring Scheme by being a mentee and in my second year I was part of the Professional Mentoring Scheme which gave me an insight of what the real working life of a business professional is, how businesses operate, also allowed me to develop deeper knowledge towards my subject of study, helped me to a significant level to secure a placement.

I undertook my placement year at the International Office at Aston University as the position of a Projects Assistant. I would say that this year is the highlight of my degree programmes as it gives me the opportunity to develop skills and abilities which will be highly valued by future employers. My placement year has been really enjoyable so far; I have learned a lot of new things and have a better and clearer idea of how a given organisation functions and the processes that it undergoes. I would definitely encourage students and especially international students to find a placement, as it is the experience from that placement year which makes individuals stand out.

Dea Doncheva
Dea Doncheva

Dea Doncheva, BSc Human Resource Management 

"Birmingham is a great city in the heart of England. For those, who are worried about rainy days, do not! It is not that bad."

I chose Aston for many different reasons I am sure you are well aware of – its top place in the rankings, its city centre location, its great opportunities to excel and its well-known reputation of graduate employability. However, what I did not know before coming was about Aston’s common first year for all business students, which gives you enough knowledge to have a clear view of what are you going to be good at and what you will be happy to do in your future career.

I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management. This is a course for those, who believe that people are what make a company unique. Some of my modules are tightly connected with the HR profession: Organisational Behaviour, Developing Creativity at Work, Strategy for Future Leaders, Psychology and Work, etc; others with the broader understanding of how do businesses operate: Operations Management, Financial Accounting, Strategic Finance, IT in Business, etc.

Birmingham is a great city in the heart of England. For those, who are worried about rainy days, do not! It is not that bad. Its central location will also give you the chance to travel to all the interesting places around here easily.

As you may already know Aston is situated exactly in the city centre of B’ham; what you do not know yet, however, is that this will be very beneficial for you. You are 10-minute walk away from all the shops, the concert halls, the clubs and the cinemas. If you do not like commuting just like me, believe me you will never regret choosing Aston. I do not.

When I graduate, I believe that I will have enough knowledge and experience to start my career the best way possible. Although I do now know where yet, I know that Aston would have given me a solid ground for future success. 

Anastasia Kyriacou

Anastasia Kyriacou, BSc Optometry, Cyprus

"I have really enjoyed studying at Aston, and I completed a foundation year here before entering my Bachelors degree in Optometry. I chose Aston because of the rankings for the Optometry department and also because the campus is in the city centre and I could live on campus."

Alexandros Angastiniotis
Alexandros Angastiniotis

Alexandros Angastiniotis, MSc International Business, Cyprus

"My programme of study, International Business, is very multicultural. It has given me the opportunity to mix with other students from various countries and backgrounds with whom I have created strong friendly relationships."

I chose Aston University because of its excellent reputation for its Masters degrees at the Business School. The fact that Aston is situated in the heart of Birmingham is also another reason I chose to come here, since you can get the best of both worlds when living here - Campus life and City life.  

My programme of study, International Business, is very multicultural. It has given me the opportunity to mix with other students from various countries and backgrounds with whom I have created strong friendly relationships.

My modules are demanding but also very educational since I encounter international business aspects in them every day.  The members of staff are all responsive to my needs and provide me with any support I need. 

I describe Birmingham as a mini-London. The city provides everything you may need but on a smaller scale compared to the capital which makes moving around easier and faster. Whether it is shopping, nightlife or excursions you are after, Brum has it all!

The reason I have decided to take on the Masters degree challenge is to enable me to work in the family business with a better understanding of the International Environment of business. I plan to work in this business and hopefully develop it into a business which, apart from serving the local needs, has an important role in the international markets. 

Veronika Gregorova
Veronika Gregorova

Veronika Gregorova, BSc. Business and International Relations

"Aston University became my first choice right after I browsed through its website.   I was impressed by a large number of subjects and sandwich courses which I am personally huge fan of! Aston has strong industry links so it's easier to look for placement in the UK or even abroad. As an EU student, I also appreciate that Aston has a great student support and there are many students from all over the world."

Aston University is unique in many ways. On one hand, it's the university where students receive an internationally recognised diploma. For this reason, Aston is the right place to be if you want to start an exceptional career. On the other hand, Aston is very friendly, middle size university so every time you go out to do some shopping or just lie down by lake, you can be sure to meet your friends. Aston is also located close to Birmingham City Centre so there is no need to buy any bus/train tickets.

I am working for Aston University as an International Student Ambassador. Also, I am a Vice-President of Erasmus and Exchange Society and I have recently joined Mentoring Scheme of Aston University, both as a mentor and mentee. 

To be honest, Birmingham might not be the most beautiful city of all, however, what I love about Birmingham is the cultural diversity. Where else can you find such a mix of cultures and ethnic backgrounds living alongside each other? Also, Birmingham has quite a lot to offer – concerts, theatres, a lot of pubs and the best of all – a brand new city library. Besides, Birmingham Airport is really close which makes travelling home very convenient. 

I am studying for a four-year-degree in Business and International Relations which includes a compulsory 12-month placement. I am planning to undertake placement in the business-oriented field and I hope my placement year will be the highlight of my programme and give me the opportunity to enhance my skills and abilities which could be greatly valued by my future employers.

I strongly believe that a placement year, which is included in many degrees of Aston, is the right way to go. It gives me a great opportunity to try out my future career path and what is more, it will definitely help me to enhance my graduate employment rate and help me to make more informed careers decision. There is also a chance that my placement employer offers me job after my actual graduation from Aston and that would be pretty amazing.

After my graduation at Aston, I would like to continue studying a postgraduate course at one of the UK’s leading universities. 

Do it. It’s going to be the best decision you make for a very long time.

I had gotten so much advice in the months before I started studying at Aston that it made me feel like I knew exactly what I was doing when I actually began... and I was wrong. The truth is even if you get the best support possible, you will feel lost first two or three weeks after your arrival- and it's absolutely fine, especially if you are an international student. 

As long as you're not throwing your flatmates saucepans out of the window, you're doing fine. It's also normal to be chilled and enthusiastic during the first few weeks and then be hit by a feeling of helplessness.

Melina Jamain
Mélina Jamain

Mélina Jamain, BSc International Relations and Social Policy

"I decided to come to Aston because of its city-based location, its small but decent size campus, the cultural diversity and the large choice in joint honours for my bachelor. The placement year was also one of my top-10 criteria."

I like the small size classes and the importance given to seminars in which we can discuss/ debate more easily current issues.

I love the diversity on campus (I have more international friends than local ones!).

Living at Aston is a multi-dimensional opportunity: it is a small city campus with the sport facilities, the green spaces, Tesco, the short distance between student halls and the lecture theatres and it is also located within the city centre of Birmingham.

The large panels of students’ societies and sport teams ensure that there is something for everyone.

Studying at Aston also means receiving support from an academic, professional and most importantly personal point of view and it’s a great feeling to know that there are people around you, you can count on.

I am an addicted runner. This sport is not so much how far you go, but how long you can keep running.I am also a traveller and a coffee lover.

I am an International ambassador for this year 2014/2015.

I also work casually with various agencies and do some volunteering with different organisations.

Birmingham is an interesting city, full of opportunities and very innovative, with many independent businesses (shops, bars, restaurants).

Digbeth, the artistic and vintage quarter and the canals are my favourite places in Birmingham.

The people of this city are building solid foundations to keep it dynamic; it could look like a mini-London with its own features.

Birmingham is also a green city, although most of the parks are outside the city centre.  

I am currently seeking an internship abroad in political affairs, starting this summer. This work or study placement was one of my top-criteria when I applied to universities. Here, at Aston, it is an opportunity highly valued and it is a chance to explore a new country, make new friends and connections and gain more professional experience.  

I really feel that studying at Aston is making me an employable, motivated, and experienced student. One thing my lecturers tell us echoes in my mind every time I think of employment: ‘you are all social scientists now.’ I do believe now that acting, thinking, living as scientists is a solid basis for any student to pursue a successful career.

I intend to pursue my studies at a post-graduate level. I am not quite sure if I want to stay in the UK, it will mainly depend in which areas I will specialize.  

Aston is a friendly, culturally diverse university, and also strongly represented in the labour market. Professors, experts at Aston are teaching us how to be tomorrow's leaders and they give us the key to success by making sure we are all actively involved in our studies.

The variety of courses, and especially the large panels of joint honours, is one way to both get lost while choosing but it is also an open door to freely decide what suits you best. Aston holds tight its industry links in its values and this is a crucial element when thinking about employability/ post-graduate studies.

There are many places to go to, the number of universities is countless, but I think that choosing a university starts by feeling like if it was home, and by choosing what suits one best.

Noemi Bahr, Double MA Europe and the World
Noemi Bahr

Noemi Bahr, Double MA Europe and the World, Germany

"I have not been to Birmingham before, so Aston University was actually the only factor that made me come here. However, I do not regret it at all. I have met many friendly people at university as well as off campus where I live with three lovely housemates."

I knew I wanted to focus on International Relations and/or European Studies in my masters. Additionally, I gained practical experience while I was working for the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations in New York last year. That internship really helped me to become sure of what I wanted to do professionally. 

To me, working in an international context is attractive because it is a complex, interesting field that never gets boring: you encounter great people from different cultures and backgrounds; try to improve things especially in the area of development aid etc., and use languages. The double MA Europe and the World combines all of these passions of mine and is, therefore, the best preparation for my aspired career.

The Double MA actually consists of only five students this year; however we share classes with other Politics Masters. It is an international group, not strictly European but there are also students from Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. I really enjoy this mix of students.

The staff at the Aston Centre for Europe is very helpful, motivated and engaged. There are many extracurricular activities to which we are always invited. Next week we will actually go to Brussels to gain more practical insight of the institutions we have been talking about so much during lectures. Our programme also requires us to do a 6 – month internship in a European context, so I hope this visit to Brussels will help me decide where I would like to work.

The Double MA modules are wide ranging: they include EU laws, international political economy, also the institutions, globalisation, political communication, IR theories, leadership and the EU’s relationship to other regions for example. Additionally, students still can pick languages. A friend of mine started Chinese, while I am practicing French in preparation for my second year which is at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Lille, France.

Here in the UK, I am particularly impressed with the cultural diversity – I come from Germany (Hamburg) and have travelled a lot –still I make many different experiences. Birmingham might not be the prettiest city of all, but its location makes it very attractive and convenient to undertake short trips during the weekends. Culturally, Birmingham has quite a lot to offer – concerts, theatres, a lot of pubs and good ‘Balti’ food. I am still trying to get used to the smell of beans on toast in the morning and even reading it on the menu of restaurants makes me laugh a little. However, every culture has its obsessions and proud traditions and I am eager to learn more about the British.

I actually hope to work for the European Union – I am particularly interested in external relations but you never know where you might end up so I try to be open-minded about it. I could also see myself working for NGOs, the German Diplomatic Service or the Foreign Ministry. So, let’s cross fingers!

Pamela Haering Das
Pamela Haering Das

Pamela Haering-Das, MSc Work Psychology and Business. Germany 

"The diverse mix of students at Aston broadens your horizons and not just academically."

The diverse mix of students at Aston broadens your horizons and not just academically. It gives you the chance to look at things differently, it's interesting to see how people perceive your culture, you get the chance to explain your culture to people who may not understand it. Read more about my experience of Aston below.

I am really impressed by the research focus, the lecturers have very applicable practically based knowledge. What they teach is not just out of a text book, they give real world examples of how to use the knowledge that they share.

My course is very interesting, there are lots of people from different cultures and lots of different backgrounds which is both challenging and interesting. The course covers a range of areas including human resources and counselling. 

My favourite topic is work psychology, in this we consider areas such as the well being of the individual, ergonomics, counselling and employee relations. I enjoy this so much because there is so much to consider, this is where I get to put strategies in place to help people achieve their potential.

Thomas Schaster
Thomas Schaster

Thomas Schaster, MSc Business and Management, Germany

"To be honest, I was surprised at how nice a city Birmingham is. It is really easy to get around and there are some great shops."

Aston is a very international environment. This is important as studying is not just about the result but also about the journey to get you there. I received an Aston Business School scholarship which helped me pay my tuition fees.  The University runs an annual scholarship reception which is great.   It was nice that the Vice-Chancellor came down to meet us. I only knew a few friends that were there so it was helpful to meet with some of the other scholars.

The airport is really close which makes travelling home very convenient.. Birmingham is a very student friendly city.  Everything is so cost effective when you compare it with London.

Students on the MSc Business and Management programme have a diverse range of backgrounds, with people from engineering and science based backgrounds as well as those with a more traditional business background.  For example, my syndicate group includes a doctor from India!  This makes working together challenging but it really helps to develop your intercultural awareness. Our programme covers a broad range of topics which gives you an ideal grounding to go into consulting work, which is my career goal after graduation.

Alberto Cuomo
Alberto Cuomo

Alberto Cuomo, BSc International Business and Management, Italy 

"I chose to study in England and I considered a range of business schools. I was impressed by Aston University's reputation and rankings."

A degree from Aston University is going to be recognised globally. Aston is able to offer placements where you can work anywhere in the world. I live on campus which is very comfortable and all campus facilities like the laundry, the library and the gym are close by. It’s definitely best to live on campus especially in your first year.

I’m currently in my first year of the IBAM programme (BSc International Business and Management).  We take a common first year and this gives me the flexibility to change to another business programme if I want to at the end of the first year.

Birmingham is a very modern city. There are lots of activities and things to do and everything is within 10 minutes walking distance.

Fabio Carraro - Italy
Fabio Carraro

Fabio Carraro, MSc Marketing Management, Italy

"If you are considering studying in the UK, it is a really worthwhile experience.  You will find here world class teaching staff and amazing student diversity."

I wanted to come to the UK to study and the MSc Marketing Management course offered by Aston University really impressed me. I did my own research and I was impressed by Aston University’s reputation. When I compare studying in Italy and in the UK, I find the environment in the UK much more competitive. 

I have been happy with everything at Aston, especially with the lecturers.It is a competitive environment but with a manageable workload that encourages me to be at my best everyday. I also love everything about the campus and everyone is very helpful. The location is the best thing as it is so close to the city centre and of course the atmosphere on campus is great.

On my programme, the MSc Marketing Management, there are people from over 20 different countries studying with me. This diverse student group teaches you that there are many different approaches to any one problem.

If you are considering studying in the UK, it is a really worthwhile experience.  You will find here world class teaching staff and amazing student diversity.  It is also a very friendly and welcoming environment whilst being very competitive, which is great in terms of skill building.

Ieva Kurmyte
Ieva Kurmyte

Ieva Kurmyte, BSc Biology and Psychology

"Aston University is one of the few universities in the whole of the UK which had a Combined Honours programme, Biology and Psychology"

Aston University has:
  • High academic proficiency
  • A wide variety of societies, sports and other activities
  • A compulsory placement year for nearly all there programmes
  • Facilities supporting having any issues
  • A small and cosy campus in the middle of centre

I had an opportunity to be a part of many different societies including St. John Ambulance society, Music society, Outreach and Volunteering programmes, Aimhigher Mentoring. I was also an International Students’ Officer at Aston Union. Moreover, I am very happy with different sport options at Aston, including yoga, badminton, volleyball and others…

What I like about Birmingham:

  1. The city centre is very compact and everything is in short distances.
  2. It has an airport and very convenient public transport.
  3. It has nice, cultural places such as Art Gallery, Symphony Hall, Town Hall, Central library.
  4. It has Bullring, one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe.
  5. A big variety of different cuisines in the city centre.

I did a Comenius Programme which was run by British Council. I was Health Education teacher’s assistant in France, Marseille. It was the best experience I ever had. A possibility to live in a different country, learn new language, traditions and culture, get to know different people is a significant experience. I enhanced my experience in Health Education field and it gave me an incredible support for my future career.

The chance to do placement is a wonderful experience, it helps to improve many skills and gain relevant experience to future career. It’s very important to have working experience and it enhances chances to get a better graduate job. Support in Careers Centre is very beneficial as well.

During my time at Aston, doing different activities, such as voluntary programmes, part-time jobs, and placement, I realised what I want to do in my future. Also Career Centre, academic lecturers and other students sharing their experience, helped me to decide much quicker. I started already looking for a graduate job in health area or a Master degree in Health Psychology or Health Education area. I know now what I want to do in my future, I just need to gain more experience in my field.

At Aston I found much more opportunities and perspectives than back in home. Here we have less hours of lectures and more hours to study by ourselves, which means we can organise our time and have some time for our interests: part-time job, volunteering, different societies and interests. It is much more challenging to study abroad as you have to be independent and do everything by yourself. But I find it as an amazing opportunity to develop my skills and broaden my mind.

I would advise my friend first of all seriously think what he/she wants to do in the future and just then carefully choose the course. I am very happy that I made a right decision choosing the course and now it gives me confidence to reach my goals. And also, I would advise to support their academic life with social life, gain as much experience in relevant fields as possible. 

I would also advise prospective students to research scholarships and financial support. Information can be found here.

Jimmy Naraine
Jimmy Naraine

Jimmy Naraine, International Business and Management, Poland

"Aston is one of only 27 business schools in the world to have achieved triple accreditation and gives me the opportunity to complete an overseas industrial placement year."

In Poland we are required to learn vast amounts of material but very often we do not know how to put it into practice. At Aston, stronger emphasis is put on teaching us how to implement knowledge into everyday business life.

There are no limits to the number of clubs that you can join!  Apart from the huge range of sporting societies, students raise money with the RAG society, develop business skills with business societies, you can build schools in Uganda, or go for AIESEC exchange to Hong Kong or Dubai! Its important to get involved!

Aston’s green campus is situated in the city centre and has students from very diverse backgrounds. I have a great social life here and in ten minutes on campus I can see at least twenty people that I know.

Joanna Pokorska
Joanna Pokorska

Joanna Pokorska, MSc Marketing Management, Poland  

"I was impressed with Aston’s reputation as it has a really good position in the league tables" 

I had studied at Aston beforehand as an exchange student so I already knew a lot about the University. I also know that Birmingham is well located with excellent transport connections. It is a really multicultural environment to be in.  

The university isn't huge so you do get to know the staff and the lecturers well and they are really approachable. The standard of teaching here is very high and there are great student facilities on campus such as the access to databases and IT facilities. 

The majority of students are international and they are not as competitive as students on courses I have previously studied with, which creates a positive atmosphere among students, since everyone is willing to help others and share opinions and knowledge. I also became a member of recently established Polish Society. I think it is great idea to be able to stay in touch with your own culture, even if you are abroad.

I have  been awarded an Aston Business School scholarship. To be awarded this, I had to write an essay on my strengths and weakness and how the MSc programme would help me to address them. This scholarship has made a great difference to me and has allowed me to complete the course without having to take out a loan.

Bruno Rebelo
Bruno Rebelo
Bruno Rebelo, BSc Business Computing and IT, Portugal

Aston University is a great place to study, the on-campus accommodation in my first year was a brilliant experience, I made friends from lots of different cultures and there is a lot of support available, during your study programme. I am currently on a placement year, working on a project within the University, building an e-learning website for the Department of Combined Honours. I’m using skills I’ve learnt plus developing time management and organisational skills. Eventually, I would like to look for a consultancy job which also gives me the opportunity to travel the world
Denisa Dumitrascu, BSc Human Resource Management
Denisa Dumitrascu, BSc Human Resource Management

Denisa Dumitrascu, Bsc (Hons) Human Resource Management, Romania

"One of the reasons I choose Aston University was definitely because of its reputation amongst most business schools in the United Kingdom."

I am studying for a four-year-degree undergraduate programme in Human Resource Management. It is a complex programme covering topics ranging from the strategic importance of human resource management in contemporary organisations to more specific areas, such as: training and development, recruitment and selection, employment law, performance appraisal, career management, employee relations, and organisational development and change.  

All this variety of information and the different perspectives allowed me to understand that managing people is far more than just telling them what to do. I think one of the most important ‘things’ I have learnt throughout this two years of university is the importance of being genuinely passionate about people and their development as a general condition for organisational development.

Birmingham is indeed an interesting city. It has got something to offer to everybody. Several times, I have been for a walk to Cannon Hill Park where I used to pop by Mac, an arts centre which is always having something going on. Arts wise, an event I really enjoyed was the Galleries Night in May where I visited the IKON Gallery, Mac and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts. After this experience my perception of Birmingham changed completely.

The Modern British Art Section at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery was another thing worth visiting.

For sport lovers, you can always rent a bike for the weekend, there are loads of gyms and sport centers and Aston Villa is literally over the corner.

Also, if you want to do shopping or walk around in one of the largest & busiest shopping centres in the UK, then Bullring is the place. It offers a very large range of brands and perhaps the opportunity for a part time job if you consider the idea. Outside Bullring is this little outdoor market where I love going on Saturday mornings to buy fruits and vegetables for the week.

My various experiences have had a considerable impact on my views and plans. In my first day of university, I started off with the dream of working in Training and Development. When looking back to my first years at university however, I can see how this dream has significantly changed. I would still like to work in the field of Training and Development, however, after my experiences and the multiculcural environment I have been exposed in at Aston, I would like to travel more and develop my cultural intelligence more; understand what lies behind people’s actions, understand reactions and frustrations and so make people extend beyond their potential.  

Ines Branco

Ines Branco Illodo, MSc Marketing Management, Spain

"I decided to go back to university and chose Aston.  I looked on the internet and Aston’s MSc Marketing Management degree had the right content for me."

The teaching quality is really good at Aston.  The lecturers are very friendly and approachable. You can e-mail them with questions and they are really helpful. There is a lot of group work which I don’t like but I am learning a lot from this.  It is the first time I have to do academic work in a group environment. It’s very demanding but it does help you with your language. When I first came here I couldn’t understand anyone!  I had studied English but when I went to buy a train ticket I asked someone where to go and couldn’t understand him! He was really helpful and friendly though and did help me to get a ticket.

I’m learning a lot. I need to feel motivated otherwise I get bored and this is a very motivational environment. I’m not just here to get an education. This is a massive investment in myself. I am getting to know people from a variety of different nationalities which is opening my mind to new things.

I want to find a job and would like to work in Spain but there is a 20% rate of unemployment. I wouldn’t mind working for a multinational company with offices in Spain. I could possibly work here or in any other country as a short/medium term arrangement.

In the Aston Business School, there is a specific MSc Careers Advisor who has been very helpful. He helps us to work through application forms and informs us about deadlines for applications or competitions organised by companies. The work that he does really helps as it saves me a lot of research. There is also a meeting about the careers service every week

I would recommend Aston for Business and the facilities are great.  Applicants should also consider other factors such as research rankings and look at student profiles.  Prior to coming here I looked at a range of information and visited before applying.

I have received an Aston Business School scholarship towards my tuition fees which has helped me pay to be here. I also attended the International scholarship reception where we were presented with our awards.