After 21 hours of flights and airport terminals, I put my feet down on Oklahoma soil last night. While I am still experiencing jet lag, I know it is important for me to begin writing about this experience. After all, writing is the strongest medium for reflection!
This past week I was in Germany with my professor and two other students presenting research for my college. Along the way we saw three German cities, ate our body weight in bratwursts and became better friends than I think we anticipated. In order to do this trip justice, I am breaking the experience into multiple blogs: today I am covering day one.
(Note: I am skipping over flights and terminals to spare you my monologue about how cramped one can become in an airplane seat around the 7th or 8th hour.)
The team caught the 12:11 PM high-speed train from Frankfurt to Erfurt. The sky was bullet gray with dark clouds, and the team slept through most of the ride. The dark skies did not mask the beauty of the German countryside however. Sloping hills dotted with hamlets and windmills stretched from one metropolitan to another.
When the trained arrived, our guide greeted us at the station. Monica, a bright and cheery member of the Erfurt Marketing & Tourism Department, quickly whisked the team onto the next public transportation—the Erfurt busses. I quickly discovered that this city’s public bus model is the 8th wonder of the world; I never encountered a late bus while in the city.
Monica took us to our hostel to check in and drop off bags. Upon arrival, we found out we were not getting hostel rooms. Instead, we received brand new apartment rooms built onto an Augustine monastery. I was totally okay with that.
After checking in, the team received the first official tour of Erfurt, Germany. We saw the Dom Platz, walked the Merchant’s Bridge and ate real, authentic German chocolate. In case you are wondering, yes—their chocolate is much better than American chocolate. After that, the team visited a Jewish Synagogue museum and then closed the night at a medieval German restaurant.
The first day of this experience was sensory overload. I had toured cathedrals and buildings that were 700 years old and walked four kilometers of cobbled streets. More than that, for the first time in my life I was in a minority group. I was an English-speaking American on German soil. I depended on the grace and English skills of Germans.
At the end of day one I was tired. Through my jetlag however, I was excited. I was in a foreign country filled with strange cultures and anomalies I had never experienced. I had all day tomorrow to both explore and prepare for the team’s research presentation—and I fully intended to take advantage of the opportunity.
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