German breakfasts are fantastic! We started the day with a breakfast at the hotel consisting of various cold cuts and cheeses, yogurt and fresh juice. I had no idea what several of the meats were, but they were all so good! After we ate, we headed down and took a city tram to the University of Augsburg. I was very impressed with the punctuality of the trams and the intricacy of the system. How nice it would be to have a similar system in the U.S.! At the university, we had our first chance to work with the German students as we put together an introductory PowerPoint presentation for our assigned companies. It was very cool getting a peek at the German students’ approach to the project and their interaction with each other and us. We had fun laughing about things like how difficult it was to type on each other’s computers with their differing keyboards. Laughter is universal. Our presentation of the carbon company SGL went well and soon we had lunch at the university’s cafeteria (Mensa). With everything in German, I attempted to understand the menu but felt a little lost. I imagined I would like whatever I chose and definitely did! As it turned out, all the food was delicious, and the German students and staff were willing to point us in the right direction, so we couldn’t lose.
Following a campus tour, a group of the German master’s students lead us on a scavenger hunt through the city of Augsburg. This was done in two teams and hence, my competitive side was activated. I mean, who doesn’t love to win? Despite the competition, we all won as the real prize was getting to know those on our team better coupled with getting to know our ‘home base’ city better. Part of the latter included the chance to see two absolutely gorgeous old Augsburg churches — the likes of which I could never have imagined. The intricacy of the wood and stonework was truly stunning. It would be amazing to belong to and regularly attend a church of such ornate craftsmanship. I could not help but stand in awe of the incredible beauty of the paintings, stained glass and architecture. There was also a moment of realization that beauty often lies within. What we see on the outside of something (or someone) can easily prevent us from knowing the joy of what’s on the inside if we don’t choose to explore it with that first step of faith.
As we neared the end of the scavenger hunt, I was feeling a little more confident in the layout of Augsburg and thrilled to be rewarded for our scavenger hunt efforts by stopping for…wait for it… ICE CREAM! Suffice it to say, as a self-proclaimed ice cream enthusiast, I was very excited to try German ice cream. Admittedly, it was a bit of a surprise when I received a long slender cone with a single scoop on top (as opposed to the typically multi-scoop variety in the States). That single scoop was creamy and delicious, though I had no idea what the actual flavor was as it was in German! I could only hope that more ice cream stops would dot the balance of our time in Germany.
We ended our time together with a group dinner at a small pizza place in Augsburg called Dragone. I’m excited as we’ve been told that it’s considered to be one of the best pizza places – and I’m all about food. We ordered traditional German style pizza without tomato sauce and having more of an alfredo type sauce. It was both tasty and interesting. I especially loved trading sweet and savory slices as well as the opportunity to try several different types of German style pizza. I also enjoyed the opportunity to relax and connect with others in our group. As I head to bed, I’m content. I finally feel like I’m beginning to feel comfortable with the city and with my fellow travelers. Like those amazing churches we saw today, perhaps I’m starting to see the beauty within. I’m very excited for tomorrow as we’ll be heading to my assigned company, SGL, for our first site visit!