Day 1: Welcome to Germany!

Hello from Germany!  After a long day of traveling, we finally landed in Munich at 5:45am and then drove directly to our hotel in Augsburg to drop off our luggage and begin our day.  We went on a small city tour in order to keep everyone awake until meeting Sonja and Simon, our two main contacts at the University of Augsburg at 10.  After our meeting, Dr. Feick took us out to the city for part one of our Augsburg tour; he took us to the local bakery for lunch, the cathedral, town hall, and many more sites.

The town hall was one of my favorite spots on the tour.  In the square, Dr. Feick brought up the interesting point that the buildings’ architecture can tell the difference between the buildings that stood through the bombings of WWII and those that had to be rebuilt – the buildings that stood were more traditional, ornate, and detailed, while the rebuilt structures were flatter and plainer as there was less money and time available for their construction.  Even though the inside of the town hall was completely demolished during the war, its front stood the bombings which makes it stand out in the square.  The reconstructed inside of the building is spectacular as well.  The ceiling and walls on the top floor are gilded in gold and the detail that is put into the art on these walls is fascinating to see – I could probably stare for hours and still find new elements of the paintings.

The Town Hall!

After part one of the city tour, we returned for to the hotel to check into our rooms and then headed back out to complete part two.  Our break was short, as Dr. Feick and Arielle were trying to avoid us all crashing due to exhaustion, but definitely necessary and helpful.  On part two, we were joined by a few of the students from the University of Augsburg that we will be working with over the next two weeks.  We talked to them throughout our tours of St. Anna’s church and the Fuggerei.  The Fuggerei is a community within Augsburg that was built by the Fugger family to provide cheap housing to the poor citizens of the city.   The rent of an apartment in the Fuggerei costs each family £ 0.88 and three daily prayers for Jakob Fugger “the rich” in order to reduce his time spent in purgatory.  This town gives an opportunity for the poor citizens of Augsburg to have a safe community to live in, while also helping the city of Augsburg and the Fugger family to give back and avoid purgatory.

At dinner, I sat with three other girls, who told all of us at the table about the best places to go while we’re here and all about the program that they are in.  The one girl, Lucia, had just returned from studying abroad at Indiana University last semester, which explained why her English was so good that it made her barely have an accent.  Since students in Germany start learning English in the fourth or fifth grade, most of the people our age speak excellent English.  I think this is a really cool thing that Germany does and one that America should do with a language like Spanish in order to help people connect worldwide.

Also at dinner, I ate my first traditional German meal – small salad, Schnitzle and Spätzle, and traditional Apple Strudel for dessert.  Dinner was delicious, but the service was a little unpleasant.  The waitress was understandably stressed out with the almost 30 people in our group, and we could tell by her impatience.  The German girls who we were sitting with kept apologizing and saying that service isn’t always that bad (even though it’s usually not as good as in America because tips don’t matter as much to the servers), but we all understood and took it as another part of the experience and another thing to blog about!

My Apple Strudel!

We all went back to the hotel after dinner and then a few of us went out to explore the city for a little before returning to continue to catch up on sleep and get rid of this jet lag!  Tomorrow we are going to see the University of Augsburg and I’m super excited to see the campus and see how it compares to Pitt.  We also meet the rest of the German students tomorrow and do our first project with them!

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