Sunday, May 7th
This first day of our trip was really more like three days rolled into one. Prior to leaving for Germany, we all met as a group at Pitt on Friday. We had dinner together as a group for the first time and decided to go see a movie that night instead of get the sleep that we needed before leaving for the airport at three in the morning.
We checked in at the hotel in Augsburg and had about two hours to prepare for the rest of the longest day ever. It was a strange feeling, relaxing before the first real event of our trip, not feeling tired despite all logic filled with excitement for the coming two weeks.
We met in the lobby of our hotel for an introduction to the program and a snack (the first of many buttered pretzels). We were given a welcoming gift from the University of Augsburg that included many things, one of which was an all important set of bus passes that would allow us to use the tram system (legally) for that day and the rest of the trip; it was clearly stressed that we should do our utmost best to not lose those passes, but more on that later.
The first event of the trip was a tour of the city. Eager to finally explore Germany, our group of twenty, jet-lagged students climbed onto the Tram. I thought that I knew what to expect; I had seen pictures of them and been told that they are very similar to our T system in Pittsburgh. While it is true that they may look similar, the Tram in Germany was smoother, quieter, and better. I was so excited about how great that I thought the Tram was that I couldn’t help but talk about it, and talk about it, and talk about it. I later realized that this was my first experience with culture shock. I was in the stage where everything was awesome, exciting, and simply better than home… and I thought it would never end.
Our first stop off the tram and on the tour was Koenigsplatz (King’s Place). This was the main Tram stop in Augsburg and became a major part of our daily routine on the trip.
The tour was a great introduction to just how much culture exists in Germany. It was amazing to see the contrasts of old and new in the architecture and the culture from places like T-Mobile doing business in a buildings still standing from around when Augsburg was founded. On the tour we explored what felt like a wide range of the City. It felt as though we would never be able to navigate the curving roads tucked between the buildings. We weaved from churches to streams to fountains to the town hall and back to more churches.
Inside of one of the churches was beautiful stained glass. We also explored the town hall that is in the featured image. The second floor is decorated from floor to ceiling in gold.
The first day concluded with our first taste (other than the pretzel) of the food that would staple our diets for the next two weeks. We ate at Zeughasstuben and had Spezi and Spatzle amongst other German foods.