Even with a lighter summer schedule, I am quickly realizing that my work and academic responsibilities will consistently push this blog series to the bottom of my “To Do” list unless I push back. With that being said, I will jump back into the saddle and push the narrative forward another day! This blog starts the morning after my previous post.
A combination of jetlag and nervous energy woke me up two hours before I needed to meet my team. Today was research presentation day, and I knew my body did not like sleeping in on presentation days. Therefore, I resolved to make the most of my morning; I showered and dressed, grabbed a map and hit the streets of Erfurt.
My exploration of Erfurt lasted a little more than an hour, and it never took me farther than a kilometer away from the monastery. This brief excursion, though simple, denoted an important moment for me. For the first time in my life, I navigated the streets of a foreign city alone. When you are young, this kind of symbolic independence is enough to make your head dizzy—even if you only went a kilometer.
After a brief breakfast with the group, the team met with Monica and Sabine. Sabine is one of Erfurt’s official tour guides, and she is one of the few who can deliver the tour in English. Sabine took the group back to the Merchant’s Bridge and the Dom Platz, but she also showed new sights like the Petersburg Citadel. We capped the whole experience with Thüringen bratwursts at “Faust Food” (translation: “Fist Food”) and a quick visit to the University of Erfurt.
After lunch, the time came to don suits and present research! The other students I traveled with killed the presentation. If there is one thing Gaylord students know how to do well, it is deliver research—and my friends Kate and Katie are two of the best. The research led to a great roundtable discussion with the client about the state of tourism in the town. I have dealt with many clients in my young career, but international clients are a different kind of challenge. It is not every day one of your client’s market realities is being part of the former East Germany.
After the presentation was over, it felt like a burden had been lifted from the group. We all celebrated with ice cream and mustard shopping (don’t ask me why, but one of the girls really wanted to get German mustard). Besides a dinner with the client that evening, the rest of the day belonged to us.
This is where my fondest memories of Erfurt come—before the dinner, and after the dinner we explored the city. Before dinner with Kate and after dinner with Kate and Katie, we found parks, climbed fortresses and accidentally almost crashed a wedding. It felt like I was in one of those study abroad advertisements where everyone is smiling and nothing can go wrong. It was one of those simple, novel experiences that I will never forget.
In day two I really started to hit my stride. I explored without fear of getting lost, and I began feeling more comfortable with taking risks. In hindsight, this trend became more pronounced with each passing day in Germany. In the paraphrased words of Dr. Tsetsura, you sometimes need to get lost somewhere before you find yourself.
Stay posted, I will launch the next segment soon!
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