Okay, so today actually started at about 6 am on May 5 in Towers back on Pitt’s campus. The Plus3 Germany group met up in Towers lobby at 6:55 am and traveled to the Pittsburgh airport to begin our quest to Germany. We arrived about four hours before our flight, which gave us plenty of time to get through TSA before a piddly trip to Philly. In the Philadelphia airport, we had another long wait, so I utilized the time to teach some of the other students a Chinese trick-taking game called “Bait the Pig” (similar to “Hearts”).
The flight to Munich was about 8 hours and 15 minutes, and I passed the time by eating complimentary in-flight meals, watching a movie, sleeping, and talking to the German girl in the seat next to me. She was returning from a study abroad trip of her own in San Diego. It seemed like she knew more about American politics than I do, which probably says something about my political awareness.
We landed at around 6:00 am local time, about an hour earlier than we were supposed to. At the airport, I was unable to use my ATM card because my bank forgot to unblock it. Fortunately, I had about $150 cash on me, which I exchanged for about €110. We took a bus to Augsburg from the airport and moseyed around a bit until Sonja and Simon came from Universität Augsburg to meet us. After some introductions, Dr. Feick led everybody on a mini-tour of the city, which involved a visit to the town hall, which has an almost entirely gilded fifth floor.
I was amazed at how walk-able and pedestrian-friendly Augsburg is. It’s hard to find many cars driving around because a lot of people just travel on foot. After our mini-tour, we had a break where people napped and took showers before embarking on our second half of the tour. This tour was highlighted by a trip to Die Fuggerei: low-income housing provided by an old, rich Augsburg family. It was astonishing to see what Jakob Fugger did to benefit society. He provided housing at €0.88/year to people who he considered to be good, hard-working people and who were poor and catholic. Those who met his criteria had to pay almost no rent to live in well-furnished homes and get back on their feet. It was also really cool to see that his legacy lives on today, as the Fuggerei are still rented out for €0.88/year.
Dinner was at a local restaurant called Bauerentanz, where I had schnitzel and schpetzla, traditional Bavarian food with an apple strudel dessert. The only item on my agenda after dinner was sleep, since I have only slept for 3 of the last 33 hours.