Wow, Regensburg was really something else. I had high expectations of this city ever since our program leader, Arielle, told me this was her favorite city on the trip. The city absolutely exceeded my expectations. The ride to Regensburg was one of our longest – a little over two hours. Upon our arrival, we parked and walked over a bridge over the Danube River (the most important river in Europe!) into the city. As we walked across the bridge, I admired the colorful array of apartment buildings that made up the skyline. I could already tell that the city was going to be beautiful.
First on the agenda was a city tour. The tour-guide was enthusiastic and clearly loved Regensburg. While she was telling us broad information about the city, the fact that Regensburg was never bombed or destroyed during World War II specifically stuck out to me. Many of the buildings in the city were centuries old, and the road marking the city’s boarder dates back to Roman times. One of the ancient buildings is the town hall, which nearly wraps around a small, enclosed square. I remember seeing the Regensburg coat of arms, two keys crossing each other, on the peak of an arch on the building. I found it fascinating how integral the coat of arms used to be to European cities and how today such symbols are only found on building preserved for centuries. We also saw a tall tower with small windows on the main street in the town. I was shocked to learn that this tower is currently functioning as a college dorm. Students our age live in a building that has existed for centuries and is one of the tallest buildings in the city. Wow.
After the tour, we were bused to the headquarters of Continental, a company I thought primarily made tires. The presentation was insightful and gave me a much better understanding of the company. One key difference between Hirschvogel and Continental I noticed was how the presenter responded a question about the company’s top competitors: the presenter at Hirschvogel did not indicate a single company as a main rival, while the presenter at Continental declared that Bosch is the company’s top competition. I found this interesting because both companies are highly diversified.
For the factory tour, we suited up in non-static gowns and put blue bags over our feet before standing on a scale to ensure that we are statically neutral. I was so shocked at how high-tech the factory was. There were robot carts carrying around materials that could recharge themselves without a human directing them to do so. We watched as computer circuit boards were produced by fully automated robots. Ironically, I did not see a tire being produced the whole time. I had never felt so surrounded by such advanced technology and innovation.
We headed to the other side of the Danube again to eat at a traditional German restaurant – the first one I had eaten at on the trip. I had the salad, which came in a rigid shell of bread, something I ironically recognized from Mexican restaurants. The salad was pretty good, but the jam was better. One of the German students recommended that I try Bavarian jam, which I did not expect to be served next to my salad, but it was amazing and had a very rich and fruity flavor. I slept on the bus ride home, grateful for the day that I had spent in Regensburg.