ImPRETZELed with Augsburg (Day 2)

Today we started the day with breakfast at the hotel, which was really good, I had some scrambled eggs, a chocolate croissant, and some yogurt. We promptly left for the University of Augsburg using the streetcars from Koenigsplatz to meet the German students and work on our first company presentations that would be a basic overview of their role in the automotive industry, other details that we would elaborate more on in our second presentations. After getting there we had about an hour to work with our groups, my group was made up four students from Pitt (Lucas, James, Justin and I) and three students from the Augsburg (Sophie, Maren, and Luisa). Our company is Hirschvogel, which manufactures car components. As we were working on our presentations, something that came up as our German friends were translating the news articles about our company, was that they when you translate a German sentence to English it becomes a lot shorter.

 After our presentations, we had a chance to get lunch at the Mensa, which is what the dining hall is called in Germany. The Mensa was very different from Market at Pitt. They had all their food options in one area, and you pay for it all at once. They had a variety of foods including vegetarian, Mediterranean, Asian and many other options. They had a much larger seating area filled with tons of windows as well, filling the hall with light.

Mensa at the University of Augsburg

Something I noticed at the university was that many doorways are much narrower than in the U.S., so you have to walk in one by one or at max with two people.

After our lunch at the Mensa, we got to meet the graduate students that would be heading to Pittsburgh in the fall for a semester. They first gave us a tour of the campus, showing us the different academic buildings and the library. In contrast to Pitt, there were a lot of more open grassy areas with a small river that passed through the campus.

part of the campus of the University of Augsburg

Pitt definitely feels like more of a city and is more compact. A difference in the way students house in Augsburg, is that if you’re from Augsburg you usually stay at home or at your own apartment and commute and there is not much housing provided by the university and if you are to get housing, usually you are from a place much farther away. Many students don’t live on campus and take the streetcar to the university. When we took the streetcar on our way to the university many others also got off just showing that students take the streetcar to get there. Our first stop on the tour was on campus, but it was to spot the soccer arena that the Augsburg soccer team plays at. Our next stop was at the Dom, so we took the streetcar back to Köenigsplatz.

where the streetcar comes at the University of Augsburg

We had been to the Dom for our city tour with Dr. Feick but it was still very interesting to learn more about it. The next place we visited was the center of the city where the Perlach Tower and the Town Hall are located. From there we went to the Moritzplatz, where we found some of the statues and fountains, they had asked us questions about and then continued on to the Basilica of SS. Ulrich and Afra. I found that the churches in Augsburg were built with more complexity and artwork as they are a lot older than the churches that we have in the United States. In addition, in both the Dom and the Basilica they both had crypts, which I had never seen anything like before. I felt like I was in the DaVinci Code or a National Treasure movie.

The last stop of our tour was a brewery called the Riegele Wirtshaus. When we got there, we had the opportunity to try some non-alcoholic beers. The way the make them is by first making them normally with the alcohol but then using some kind of machinery to extract the alcohol from there, making the non-alcoholic drinks more expensive. While we were there, I also had the opportunity to try a German pretzel.

a German pretzel

It was really good and some differences I noticed from the way Americans make their pretzels is that they use a lot more oil and butter. Another thing I found out after asking one of the German students, is that they don’t coat their pretzels in sweet things like cinnamon sugar or dip them in cheese sauces and such unlike America. Usually the only topping they get with their pretzels is butter. This made me come to the conclusion that a lot of foods in America were adapted from other countries. Before coming to Germany, I did not realize that pretzels were a German food and a big part of the culture. When at home, you will see pretzels at sports games, fairs, the mall, and even at the Pittsburgh airport where I saw an Auntie Anne’s on our way to Germany just a few days ago. When we are at the brewery, I also realized how big grains are in German culture. The pretzels, the beer, the German bread, and Spätzle are all classic German foods made with grains. I asked one of the master students that was with us and they explained to us that the Catholic monasteries in the older times would make beer and such with the free time they had, and the bread was made from the scraps of the beer they made.

Also, the grad students, gave us some sweet treats including chocolate as our rewards for completing the scavenger hunt. I got to have some, and it was a little different from American chocolate, but it was so yummy. I wasn’t able to really pinpoint the differences in taste from just that one taste, but I will be sure to let you know once I try a couple more chocolates. As we completed the scavenger hunt, we were using a combination of streetcars and public busses. This has gotten me to notice how important public transportation is here as well, this might go along with the Germans care for the environment and how this would less pollution then using their own cars. Especially as there is not much space here to park cars.

After our trip to the brewery, we made our way to the Italian restaurant we would be having dinner at, Dragone. I ordered a veggie pizza from there which tasted really good. One thing I noticed about the pizza that was really different from a veggie pizza in the United States, was the vegetables they decided to put on it. At Dragone, they used grilled zucchini, bell peppers, artichoke, and olives (that still had the pits in them), whereas in the United States they lean towards vegetables like mushrooms, pit-less olives, peppers, and onions, maybe spinach and broccoli if they are feeling risky.

a veggie pizza from Dragone

In addition, at the restaurant we had to order our water and they gave it to us in a large glass bottle. Compared to the American way, this felt quite fancy as we usually get water in plastic bottles or in glasses at restaurants. For them drinking sparkling water is just as common as drinking regular water.

Jeff showing off some fancy water

After our long day we came back to the hotel to finally rest. 

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