May 6th: With our second day in Augsburg, we got back into our student life with an “orientation day” of starting projects, meeting other students, and exploring the campus.
We started out the day by breaking off into our groups for the company project, the company we were analyzing is Faurecia. Of my group, I had Reid, Jeff, and Michelle and then Noemi, Alicia, and Laura of the German students. We only had a little bit over an hour to create a presentation, so it was difficult to have enough time to have it finished. The hardest part for the presentation was the fact that we only had one computer for the whole group that was in German, so we had to wait before we could put in our information and then it was harder to try and understand the German functions.
For lunch, we ate at the University of Augsburg’s dining hall called Mensa, which I think everyone agreed was very great. In comparison to the dining halls at Pitt, there were obvious differences in food quality, ambiance, and prices. The next thing we did for the day was a campus and city-wide scavenger hunt lead by the Master’s students from the University of Augsburg.
Personally, I enjoyed talking to the students more than I actually did the scavenger hunt. All of the four master’s students who lead the tour will be attending Pitt in the fall, so it was very fun and engaging to be sharing our experiences at Pitt and their experiences at Augsburg with each other. In the fall, three of the boys will be living in an Airbnb that they will live in for the semester. Based on their thoughts and my knowledge about the location of where they’re staying, I know it is not the typical Airbnb people may rent for vacations, but most likely someone putting up their house to sublet. When they first told me the way they would be living at Pitt was through an Airbnb I was surprised, but when they explained it further they told me that there is no easier way to find off-campus housing for only one semester and it is increasingly harder when you cannot visit the place yourself, which is a problem I never thought about with studying abroad for a semester.
We were able to talk with the students on several different topics like where they want to go while they’re in the US, what they want to study, how a US education is beneficial to them, what they’re excited for most and much more. So far with all of the other German students, I’m really interested in where they have been to in the US before and what they want to see. One common place with all of the master’s students was seeing Niagara Falls, which I supposed is a popular location to see if you have never been to the states, but I never valued it as highly. They also said their excited to see a “traditional American college experience”, including the football games, parties, and ways of living that they have seen portrayed in media. For Pitt specifically, they all knew about the Cathedral of Learning and are excited to see that in person. I was able to have a discussion with two of them for a while and I think most of the other American students would agree with me in saying we are happy to show them around Pitt and share in their experience with them.
The scavenger hunt ended in Brauhaus Riegele, which was a popular beer garden in Augsburg. There we all drank different nonalcoholic beers, while the guys marveled at the “tree toilet” that was in the bathroom. One thing from the restaurant that stood out to some of us was how the German students would try and make sure we finished all of the beer before we left, which we did not achieve. We noticed this the other night at dinner as well, when the German students encouraged us to keep eating or trying different things to finish the meal; both of the students at my table for dinner said it was a common phrase in their house that if you eat all the food on your plate the sun will come out tomorrow. This was a shift for us because we are accustomed to eating the amount we want and food waste in restaurants is common.
Once dinner came, my table was very conscious of the goal for little food waste when we were eating our meal. For dinner, we went to an Italian restaurant called Dragone where I had a four cheese pizza and others either had pizza or pasta. With the entire menu being in German, all we could really do to understand the menu was use context clues, like knowing Hawaiian pizza is ham and pineapples, so we now knew what the word for ham was and could then understand another menu option better. It is also immensely helpful that we had Sonja, Dr. Feick, and Justin to help along the way. I have a feeling that by the end of this trip we will all have a great appreciation for Justin not just because he is knowledgeable in the language, but because he is always humble and willing to help us. However, we still ran into some issues with ordering since some ordered the “Pepperoni Pizza” expecting it to be pepperoni pizza like in America, but really it was pizza with peppers.
Ordering from the restaurant was probably the most difficult part of the day for a majority of us, because I know I want to try different foods and go to different restaurants, but the language barrier will always be an issue that will be hard to overcome. The highlight from the day was definitely talking with the German students, both undergrad and grad, just to share experiences and learn more about them. I was not expecting to be able to talk with two of the German graduate students for as long as I did, but I think we mutually found interest in learning more about the different cultures we were experiencing in the future.