Despite all of our preparation for this trip over the course of a semester, Germany was still new and exciting right from the start! We arrived at the Munich airport ahead of schedule, at around 6 in the morning. Everyone was impressed by the large outdoor area inside of the airport, excited by exchanging currency, and eagerly awaiting our bus to Augsburg, where we would be staying.
The 8.5 hour plane ride to Germany was made worth it by mere minutes in Augsburg. There were many notable differences between Augsburg and any other city I have been to, including Pittsburgh. The first and most obvious difference is that everything is written in German. Second, I noticed that the buildings and streets were relatively cleaner. The presence of streetcars was also something I was not used to seeing!
After a quick look at some main streets, we returned to the hotel to meet the program leaders from the University of Augsburg, Sonja and Simon. They presented us with helpful guides, tickets, and information for our trip before we ventured out again to tour the city. Throughout our tour, Dr. Feick offered additional information that I found to be very interesting, including how to differentiate between different types of architectural styles and periods. We viewed important cites such as the Cathedral and Town Hall of Augsburg, which was rebuilt after being bombed during WWII. Later, we were joined by a handful of the University of Augsburg students to see St. Anna’s church and the Fuggerei. The Fuggerei is a closed community within Augsburg dating back to the 16th century and was especially interesting to see. Our guide there also explained the meaning behind the chalk markings we had been seeing on some buildings. These markings are used to protect Catholic-occupied buildings from unwanted spirits.
Concluding the evening, we had a welcome dinner at Bauerntanz in Augsburg, accompanied by more of the Augsburg students. I was lucky to sit at a table with the German students who are going to be studying at Pitt in the fall! They taught me how to order still water and we exchanged information about our homelands. I am so excited to experience what else Germany has to offer and also for these students to do the same in Pittsburgh. The whole day was spectacular, from eating decent airline breakfast to delicious schnitzel and spätzle!