The day started with an exciting arrival after an eight and a half hour flight where I had a chance to sit in between my new buddies, Ravi and Brett. The first thing I noticed after landing was the sheer number of stores that had their logos or names printed in English. We had gotten a chance to talk to the students who were able to be a part of Germany Plus3 last year, and they had already let us know that almost everything was in English but that still didn’t prepare me for how many people speak English. We then proceeded to take the bus from the airport to our hotel in Augsburg. Another difference I noticed on the ride was how much farmland there is in Bavaria. There was more open space then I expected, making the autobahn feel similar to American highways.
We then got to our hotel in Augsburg called the ibis Hotel Augsburg Koenigsplatz. The rooms are definitely more compact, but as I have been noticing in Europe things are not as spread out and large even in things such as portion sizes. Our next stop was getting food at a local bakery called Ihle, they had a large assortment of sandwiches, in addition to different types of bread and pastries. We were able to make a stop back at the hotel before our orientation with Sonja and Marius who are the supervisors from the University of Augsburg. They were very organized, timely and explained details about our trip here quite clearly.
We then were able to go on a city tour with Dr. Feick. He explained the history of sites in Augsburg including the St. Anna Church started by Jacob Fugger, the Perlach Tower, and the Town Hall.
Unlike in the United States, in Germany many of the shops close on Sunday and usually only restaurants and sometimes bakeries stay open. I noticed they had a lot of American chains such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Lush, and TJ Maxx , which is called TK Maxx in Germany. The streets of Augsburg are mostly cobblestone and this was very apparent to me as I realized that driving on streets like that would be very tough and I haven’t seen many cobblestone streets in the United States.
After our city tour, we visited the Fuggerei which is a social settlement through which people could seek housing that they wouldn’t be able to afford any otherwise. In order to live in the Fuggerei you had to be Catholic and this was especially important to Jacob Fugger himself as he did not want to help Protestants as they were taking over many churches in Europe. We were able to receive a lovely tour when we got there, where we were able to learn about the history and function of the Fuggerei.
As we had been outside for a while on the long and cold day, we were all excited to make our way to the restaurant, König von Flandern, where we had dinner. We met the German students who we would be working with throughout the next two weeks. I was able to talk to Maya, and Sophie and Luisa, who were two of the German students. We were able to find out a lot about how German students go about their university studies. The first difference I found was that the cost of attending university is almost completely free for students which as American college students was shocking. In addition, their grade is entirely based on their final exam, taking up 100% of their grade. They do not have any other exams, quizzes, or homework to help buffer their grade. This system would definitely be hard for me to adjust to as I prefer to prepare and study the material throughout the semester making the final exam easier to study for. The students that are a part of our program are all global business management majors where they are required to study abroad for a semester. The students we talked to studied in places like New Zealand, Finland, and Bloomington, Indiana. At dinner, we were able to try some traditional German dishes. I had the chance to try “spinach dumplings” and apple strudel as they are translated to in English. I really loved the apple strudel, I thought it tasted amazing and finished it in the blink of an eye.
At dinner, as we talked to German students, we learned that it is actually more expensive to order water than it is to order a soft drink. After dinner, I was quite exhausted as I had been awake for twenty hours and only slept for about three hours on our flight. Luckily, we have super comfortable beds at the hotel and I was able to crash and received a good night’s rest.