Day 2: “Taking off the Training Wheels” – Nick Erni

Augsburg keeps getting better and better. Today, we had an early day and traveled to the University of Augsburg for the first time. Here in Germany, students do not live on campus and instead live throughout the city. Therefore, students take the tram in the morning, which stops at the University. The campus has a beautiful pond, and the university buildings are no more than a couple stories tall.

We had a welcome lecture from the Augsburg University professors, and we did a quick meet and greet with the Augsburg students. We then met our groups for the next two weeks and had one hour to complete our introductory presentation for each of our groups’ companies. I am researching Hirschvogel, a steel and aluminum forging company that is a big supplier for European car makers.

The German students were very friendly. They are very fluent in English, and it showed me how we take English for granted and do not appreciate learning other languages. When we first started researching with our teams, the German students wanted to separate the group work and organize a plan.Ty were very systematic and wanted to plan everything out before we started working. My mom would have loved to work with them! We presented on Hirschvogel history, their global divisions, their current financials, and current events.

After our presentations, we ate lunch at their cafeteria. The food was amazing, and the cafeteria had amazing natural lighting. I was surprised how tasty cafeteria food could be! After dinner, the undergraduate German students departed, and we met six graduate students at the University of Augsburg that will be studying abroad at the University of Pittsburgh for the fall semester! They made an Augsburg scavenger hunt for us and we explored the entire city with them. The questions were about Germany history, different buildings, and other Augsburg facts. For some of the questions, we had to ask locals, and I took the lead for my group and would ask Germans around us. For one of the questions, I stopped and asked a woman, but she did not know English and got her Mom, who was probably in her 70s. She was extremely helpful and did not leave until she found the answer for us. She went to an information desk in the main cathedral and translated the answer for us. Our small interaction made me feel so welcomed.

Another Cathedral in Augsburg

While on the scavenger hunt, the graduate students were fascinated with the cathedral of learning and wanted to learn more about the nationality rooms. One student named Flo was very nice;he studied abroad at Dayton last year for a semester. It was funny talking to him because he understood some of the college life and lingo that Americans use.

Grad Student Flo walking us through Augsburg University

We finished our scavenger hunt at the Riegele brew works and sampled non-alcoholic beer. The brew works was very cool, but the highlight was their bathroom. All I have to say is that you need to be there to really see for yourself.

Riegele Brew Works

We ate a group dinner at an Italian restaurant that was just okay. Thank goodness we were will the Augsburg University study abroad faculty and Dr. Feick because the waiters could not speak English.

Our table at the Italian restaurant

Overall, I have felt not the friendliness I experienced in Ireland, but I have felt a culture of respect. Every time we eat a meal, the Germans never leave any waste on their plate. We ate lunch with the German students in our company group and they ate everything. Meanwhile, the Pitt students took too much food and overstuffed ourselves so we could not finish. At the brew works, we couldn’t finish the non-alcoholic beer samples. The grad students kept telling us to finish and drink more and even drank some of it themselves to try and finish all the beer.

There is a large sense of respect: before we left the brew works, we were given candy from the grad students as an award for winning the scavenger hunt. We ate the candy and left the wrappers on the table. In America, we would just leave them there for the waiter to clean, but the grad students waited until we got up to clear the candy wrappers and throw them away themselves out of courtesy to the waiters. It made me be more observant in the future so that I don’t do anything that would upset the waiter we have or something that would make me look like a disrespectful American.

I am so grateful to have close contact with the German students; it is definitely the best part of the trip so far. I am grateful for their courtesy and helpfulness, and it really gives me a more in-depth cultural experience.

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