Day eleven started as usual, with breakfast followed by a departure, which today was for the university. We decided to meet our German colleagues pretty early to give ourselves plenty of time to prepare for the presentation. While we were working, the Germans were concerned that we might be too loud and thus disturb those with offices around us. I found this consciousness to be lacking in us Americans, as we are quite loud and yet do not do anything about it or even realize it. After running through our presentation multiple times, we decided to break for lunch before heading to the presentation room. At lunch, we discussed how prices and living costs compare in Germany and the US. I find that food prices feel cheaper here, but paying for water and public bathrooms offsets that slight advantage. Also, electricity costs are really high in Germany, but luckily that is not something we have to worry about on this trip. I would imagine that general living costs are higher here given the greater population density, but I cannot be sure.
Once we finished lunch, it was time for the presentations. One thing I noticed throughout all of them is how detailed the Germans were in their analyses. They covered their points in a logical and factual manner, leaving few ambiguities to puzzle over. I find this meticulous style superior to the less precise American style of presenting, and I felt that the Germans’ analyses were the strongest parts of each presentation. This more detailed method usually meant that the Germans had to have notes up with them, whereas I and a number of the Americans spoke their parts without the help of notes. Notes probably could have helped me be more structured in saying my part, but I think that I still did fine without them.
Overall, I found the presentation project to be a challenging yet rich experience. It was very interesting to use the information from our research and the company visit to present a meaningful analysis. Time management was quite difficult, since we had much more information than could fit in a twenty-minute presentation, but, in the end, we were able to trim the fat off and focus only on the most relevant information. Working with the German students was also a great experience. Their more rigid method of preparation, focusing on planning and precise analysis, made them better group members than most American students back home, and they were clear in their communication, which helped a lot given our hectic schedule. While I chose this trip because of my interest in Germany, I enjoyed the course component as well, which was a pleasant surprise.
After the presentations, we had some time before dinner to relax. I went to the supermarket with a few other guys to buy chocolate to bring home for my family. An interesting little thing I saw in the supermarket was the floor numbering scheme in the elevator. The main floor, which was underground, was label as floor -1. I have never seen a negative floor before, but it makes a lot of sense for underground floors. In America, they are usually labeled with letters, which is less clear than a negative number. Once I had bought my chocolate, I headed back to the hotel and got ready for dinner at the Ratskeller.
At the Ratskeller, we met the German students and headed downstairs to our table. Once seated, we presented the Germans with gifts, which they appreciated greatly. For dinner, I had Schnitzel, which was good, but not as good as the Schnitzel in Regensburg. During the meal, we discussed languages and dialects. I have trouble understanding some of the German dialects, and the Germans said that they have trouble too, which made me feel better about my struggles. We also discussed financing university study in the US as opposed to Germany. The Germans were shocked to learn how much debt American students take out to study, because they take on almost no student debt here. Debt aversion seems to be a German cultural trait, and I tend to share that sentiment. I did not want to go to university if I would have to take out debt, because it is too much of a financial burden with which to start my career. It is unfortunate that only a few Americans share my opinion on this subject.
When dinner ended, we headed back to the hotel and got ready for an exciting day at Neuschwanstein tomorrow. It is crazy to think that, after all the work we did in the past couple of days, the presentations are now over and only two days are left before we head home. I just have to do my best to make the most of them.