Today was our first full day in Augsburg, and I had my first taste of the breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast is very delicious, and I am excited to my start my day everyday with the food there. I had eggs, a croissant, and yogurt with fruit and granola, which is very similar to what I eat for breakfast back home. After breakfast, we went to the University of Augsburg to meet the German students and work on company presentations. After a brief presentation from Sonya and Dr. Paul, we were given about an hour and a half to make presentations on our company that covered the company’s basic information.
Working with the German students was pretty similar to working with students in my classes at Pitt, which was surprising to me because I thought that there would be more differences working with them. The German students were more focused and needed a clear plan of action before beginning to work. We divided the information so that we could work in smaller groups of 2-3 to research information for the presentation. I think that our group works well together, and Laura, Noemi, and Alicia (the German students in our group) are so nice and easy to talk to.
While I was working on the powerpoint, I realized how different German keyboards are from our keyboards. The y and z keys are switched on their keyboards, and it seemed like there were extra symbols and keys. They also have a symbol that looks like the Greek letter beta, which I later found out is a shortcut that represents a double s, such as in the word strasse, which I often see as straße. This symbol is called the Eszett or sharp s. After finding out what the symbol meant, I began noticing it across Germany.
After everyone had presented, we had lunch at the Mensa, which is the cafeteria at the University. It was a much better version of Market, as the entire area was so clean and bright. There were many different options, and everything looked so delicious. The Mensa also reminded me of IKEA, the Swedish-founded store we have in the United States, though I am sure there are also stores in Europe. It makes sense that cafeterias in Europe would be like IKEA since all these European countries are so close in proximity to each other, but it made me realize that there are stores in America that stay true to their origins. The cafeterias in IKEAs look very similar to what the Mensa looked like, with big white plates and trays. The Mensa also had a very innovative method of returning trays and plates. We had to place our trays with plates and utensils on to a conveyor belt, which then went up an elevator to be cleaned. It was definitely much cleaner and efficient than Market’s rotating shelf that is always full.
After eating at the Mensa, we went on a campus tour of the University with four of the master students who are going to be studying abroad in Pittsburgh this coming fall. We also went on a scavenger hunt around Augsburg, which was a good bonding experience and a good way to explore more of the city. Some of the sites we saw included the Augsburg Stadium, the Dom, the Augsburg Cathedral, three fountains, the Town Hall, the Maximillianstrasse, and the St. Ulrich and Afra Church. We learned a little more about the history of different parts of Augsburg, and it was fun making it a competition between the two groups.
One weird thing I discovered was that it costs 50 cents to use some bathrooms, which is so different from America, where it never costs money to use the bathroom. The bathrooms that cost money are extremely nice though, as there was a toilet attendant cleaning and spraying the bathroom the entire time. There were also free products for us to use, such as hand cream and lotions. I think the money goes towards paying the attendant and towards maintaining the bathroom, but I am not sure why only some bathrooms cost money and others do not.
The last stop of the scavenger hunt was the Riegele Wirtshaus Brewery, where we tasted non-alcoholic beers. This brewery is pretty well-known, and many of their beers have won awards. I was not a fan of the taste of the beers. My table also ordered a few pretzels to share because we were starving. The pretzels in Germany are excellent, as the dough is soft and the pretzels are not covered in grease. I also expected the pretzels to cost more than they did; they only cost about one and a half euros.
We had dinner later at the Dragone, which was an Italian restaurant. Most of us ordered pizza, as we are so close to Italy that the pizza should be very good. I ordered the pizza with champignons (mushrooms), which I recognized from my experience with French. A few people ordered “peperoni” pizza, but when they received their pizza, it was covered with bell peppers! The lesson of the day was that peperoni means pepper in German, and salami means pepperoni. It was funny to see a pizza topped with only peppers. Pizzas are served without being cut, which is very different from America, where pizzas are never not cut before being served. There are just many subtle differences between the two cultures that I would never have become aware of if I were not in Germany.
Our first full day in Augsburg was a long and busy one, but I am ready to go to bed and visit Hirschvogel tomorrow!