Waking up to the cold darkness of a 3AM Saturday morning was unsurprisingly met with absolute exhaustion and enormous smiles. As each of us dragged one foot in front of the other onto the bus, we managed to find our way to the airport check-in desks and navigate ourselves to the gate benches. As this was far from my first time flying or traveling internationally, the sense of excitement and anxiety for our arrival in Deutschland was prominent.
After nearly two days of travel our flight halted down on the Munich runway, and my desire to spring into a horizontal bed was quickly washed away by the full Sunday plan Germany had to offer. Prior to departing our Program Assistant, Brad (a legendary man, as you will soon come to know), explained the concept of traveler’s shock, and most importantly the first phase of this phenomenon: an immense high upon arrival in a new environment, coupled with the view that everything in the new country is better than back at home. Without any hesitation, as we pulled out of Munich Airport, headed for the town of Augsburg, I felt these very emotions kick in. Although, this was a feeling I had felt before and it did not appear to be attributed to “culture shock” or initial appreciation for the land of Germany, or Europe. Rather, this was a genuine sentiment that the landscape, the environment, and the atmosphere was a perfect blend of scenic yet lively, rural yet industrious, and inviting yet secluded. Even on the cold, rainy Sunday morning, functioning on minutes of sleep over the last few days, my eyes were bulging open with a shot of amazement on what many would often overlook during the bus ride to the B&B Hotel Augsburg.
Augsburg. Germany. When I say Germany, I am certain Augsburg does not enter the mind of any tourist or visitor, but it seems to be one of the nation’s hidden gems. After settling into the hotel, we met Sonia and Ana (the program coordinators from the University of Augsburg) in the lobby, and got our first taste of the renowned Bavarian pretzel.
We soon headed out for a tour of Augsburg, a tiny but incredibly energetic place. We started at the tram stop and were taken down the local streets, to the Cathedral, across Maximillianstraße, and concluded with a private tour of the Fugger House village. The Fugger House was a secured living community for the lower class, affordable housing and beautiful architecture. The day ended with a welcome dinner with the German students at Zeughausstuben, and I was fortunate enough to come across two of the Hirschvogel group members. Unfortunately the jet lag began to firmly kick in during our meal, therefore a main introduction would have to wait until tomorrow.