I am not the biggest fan of planes, flying scares me. However, it was all worth it to know that we were going to be in Germany. After landing in Munich and getting off the plane I knew I needed coffee. My first German coffee was Starbucks, at that point we just needed caffeine. The first lesson I learned in Germany was to not respond to “hallo” with “hallo”, or they will think you speak German.
The realization that we were in another country came when we went to the bathroom, this restroom was impressive. Non-automatic toilets, sleek design, cool door knobs, and most importantly, renewable hand drying towels. After the bathroom I decided to exchange my Dollars for Euros. When I was exchanging my money, I initially only changed 60 dollars into 44 Euros. After a few minutes I decided to exchange another 60, however, this time it only came out to 42 Euros. I knew that the exchange rate changed quickly but I was not expecting it to change as fast as it had.
Soon after we walked towards the bus and loaded everything inside. I had pictured Germany fields to be super clean and beautiful, but actually seeing it in person was even more breath taking. Driving to Pittsburgh from Philadelphia I am used to seeing trash and long stretches of brown fields. The drive to Augsburg was beautiful and the roads were smooth, something Philadelphia in particular is not known for. Halfway to I noticed that there were no billboards anywhere, that is what made the scenery so amazing, nothing blocking the view of the fields.
After about an hour we arrive to our hotel, unpack and settle in, and by that time our orientation for the program is about to start. We met our German program leaders, Sonja and Marius. They talked of how to get around the city, where to eat, and what to know about German public culture. They handed out bags with our pocket guides, tram tickets, coffee mugs, and more goodies. Even though the weather was cold, the city tour of Augsburg was still on.
Dr. Fieck led us down past the tram stops and through the center of town. Snowing and raining for a bit, but soon clearing up. We finally got to see the Perlachturm, the center of town that we have been seeing for months. More beautiful in person than ever could imagine from pictures. We went inside the town hall and saw the beautiful gold decorated interior. Next on the to-do list for the day was a tour of the Fuggerei. Hearing the history of the social housing was very mind opening to how we could help the homeless community today. It was interesting to hear how Jacob Fugger used his money to help other people in his community. We got to walk around the housing complexes and even got to see inside. There were many little changes to the rooms to save money for the tenants. The ceilings were lower, the beds had curtains to trap hot air, and there were gardens outside to grow fruits and vegetables. During the tour we got to meet a few of the German students that we were going to work with during the trip. After the tour we went to dinner at König von Flandern, it was our first traditional Bavarian meal. We had two options, Dunkelbierbraten and Spinatknödel. Dunkelbierbraten was pork with a bread dumpling and red cabbage, the Spinatknödel was a white wine sauce and spiced mountain cheese covering spinach dumplings. I chose the pork dish, first time having red cabbage, not my favorite but everything else in the meal was very delicious. During dinner we sat with two German students, it was very nice to get to know them better and learn about the differences between American and German student culture.