May 9th

By: Harum Nadeem, Rachel Li, Wesley Cheung, Ruby Gong, Kurtis Young

Today was the last day in Europe for the study tour. We were suppose to have free time in the morning until 12:30pm but we found out that the bus to the Rhein river was scheduled for 10:00am instead. Needless to say, some of us didn’t make it due to the short notice. We drove for an hour and a half through a very scenic route to a town called Rudesheim and arrived an hour earlier than planned. We explored the town and ate lunch before the boat tour of the Rhein. At 2:00pm, we boarded the boat at Rudesheim and went on our way. The Rhein River was beautiful to say the least. The tour lasted around two hours, including more than seven stops where they kept picking up more passengers. There wasn’t really much to do during the ride except for site seeing and drinking beverages. A lot of the students gathered around and chatted during the ride. We got off the boat at St. Goars-Hausen. It was a very relaxing afternoon.

After the boat ride, we headed back to the hotel. It was a fairly short bus ride back, leaving us with some free time before our last group supper at 6:30pm. We had supper at Weindorf, which was right beside the Rhein River. Unfortunately, during supper, we had to say goodbye to a couple of students traveling after the study tour who had to catch a train to Prague, Czech Republic. After supper, some chose to walk along the Rhein River while others went to get ice cream. After that, most of us opted to get some rest in preparation for the long day ahead.

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May 8th

By: Harum Nadeem, Wesley Cheung, Rachel Li, Ruby Gong, Kurtis Young

We started the day off by meeting on the bus at 8:30am and singing
happy birthday to Shu. We then drove to the WHU Campus in Vallendar,
Germany where we met our guide for the day, Nicole Nagel. Once we got
into the lecture room, all the students had prepared a token of their
appreciation for all of the instructors involved in this Europe trip.
Each one was presented a card signed by all the students and
chocolates as a small thank you for all the hard work put into the
organization of the trip. Shortly after, we had a guest lecture from
Professor Dr. Sabine Rau, chairholder of family businesses at the
university. She gave a great presentation in regards to succession
planning in a family business and provided first hand experience with
the emotional costs involved in regards to the Rau family business.
Part of the lecture was a group case analysis of her family business,
which helped us understand the difficulties involved in succession
planning.

After the lecture, we headed down to the vaulted cellar of the
university to have a delicious meal consisting of chicken, fish,
pasta, mixed salad, and vegetables! Although everyone was stuffed, we
headed back to the lecture room where Dr. Lloyd Steier debriefed us on
the entire trip. We voiced our opinions on changes for future trips
but considering our large group and all the activities, everyone
agreed that the trip was well organized and everyone involved did a
great job. We then headed to the castle Marksburg for a guided tour
that took us around the castle grounds. It was cool to look around a
castle that had been preserved since the 1300s. Unfortunately it was a
rainy day at the castle, but we still managed to have a great time and
take lots of pictures!

Once the tour finished, Nicole took us to supper at Maximillians
Brauwiesen in Lahnstein. There we ate a very large meal that had every
kind of German meat we could dream of. There was also a vegetarian
dish that tasted like macaroni and cheese. Nisarg drank a whole bowl
of gravy thinking it was soup, only to find out after the fact. Then
we drove back to the hotel and went out for Shu’s birthday as we had
free time the rest of the night.

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May 7th

Merck KGaA was founded in 1668 in Darmstadt, Germany. It is the oldest pharmaceutical company in the world. Emanuel Merck took the reins of company in 1827 and converted the company into a reseMay 7tharch-based organization. The company has diversified over the years from chemicals in to pharmaceuticals and, liquid crystal display product used to manufacture smart phone and flat screen televisions. The company spends almost 25 percent of its revenue on Research and Development. Innovation has been a key for the company to stay ahead in pharmaceutical business. Its pharma products comprise of preparations for treating colo-rectal cancer, diabetes, heart problems, multiple sclerosis and infertility. The company employs roughly 9,000 employees working at the Dramstadt headquarter, and has operations in 66 countries across all continents. It has a 39,000 plus workforce and is still a family run enterprise. The Merck family holds 70 percent equity and the rest is in the form of shares outside the company. The company chooses successor from the family using consensus and democratic process. Senior management leadership and the Merck family shareholders are liability partners in the business. We ended our visit with treat of cake and beverages from the company and after visiting toxicology and production divisions.

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May 6th

The tour of Mercier Champagne House exceeded our expectations. The Mercier Champagnmay 6the House is a family business, and was founded in 1858 by Eugene Mercier. It was interesting to hear of the Champagne house’s debut to the public at the 1889 world fair. They actually rerouted traffic and demolished houses to get a very large cask containing 200,000 bottles of their Brut Champagne to the fair! The cask was made of materials from Portugal, and was transported by 24 oxen. After learning of the history, we proceeded to the elevators, where we took a very interesting decent into the caves of the Mercier Champagne house. The underground tunnels are 18KM in total! We toured the tunnels on an underground train. Unbelievable!!

It is important to note that the term Champagne only applies to sparkling wine made of grapes from the Champagne region of France. All other forms of sparkling wine should just be referred to as sparkling wine. The grapes grown in the Champagne region of France are delicate and a bit of a challenge to maintain. This explains why Champagnes are more expensive. The tour concluded with a wine tasting of Mercier’s Champagne Brute. Manifique!!

 

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May 5th

Today our group visited the European Parliament. The European Parliament is a group of elected representatives from each of the 27 member states, who serve their constituents. Their building was erected in Strasbourg as a sign of peace and democracy since the Alsace region has switched hands so many times. The other EP building is in Brussels, and the MEP (Members of European Parliament) spend their time between the two areas. One week in Strasbourg to vote and discuss, two weeks in Brussels with their committees. Every MEP must be on two committees, of their own choice. Currently there are 20 standing committees. The EP works currently in 24 official languages, and to be an interpreter, you must know at least four different official languages.

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Megan: I found it cool that the building was structured with such a symbolic meaning. The overall circle represented their unity, the center courtyard can be accessed by the general public to show democracy, and the glass all over the building is to show their transparency.

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Ariel: I found the most interesting part of European Parliament to be the sheer number of translators required to facilitate translation into all languages required by the European Union. While there are less than thirty official languages of the Parliament, there are 70 translators required, to ensure that everything is appropriately received, both by the public and by other representatives. Today’s guide informed us that it would not be unusual to see members laughing or responding dyssynchroniously to the debates and speeches presented, because of this language barrier. Representatives might even wait for two translators, depending on their language and the intermediate language spoken, before they understand the nuance of the matter at hand. Even so, official interpreters in European Parliament must be fluent in three languages, aside from their mother tongue.

While the architecture of the building itself was aesthetically pleasing, there was a great deal of thought put into the symbolism associated with the architecture. The round shape signified the unity of the European Union, while the central courtyard was reminiscent of a roman “agora”, or marketplace, and was meant to symbolize democracy. The building is also comprised of many glass windows, which is symbolic of the transparency that the European Parliament strives for, toward its citizenry.

Ilijana: I really enjoyed getting to see the area where the meetings and debates are held and learning about how the procedures work, such as translation ( everything is immediately translated into every member state language by translators and interpreters who sit behind windows watching the meetings).

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Rachel: My favourite part of the European Parliament was the entrance atrium of the building. The entire area was basically a courtyard with an expansive open roof. As we walked through the atrium, we could see the giant glass windows of the offices that lined the building walls. We later learned from our tour guide that the openness of the atrium is symbolic of the European Parliament’s transparency. At the centre of the atrium was a large, hollow glass ball. This was apparently a gift from Wroclaw, Poland. Incidentally, Poland is also the home country of the European Parliament’s current president, Martin Schulz.

This afternoon, a group of students took lunch in one of the cathedral squares, as it was a beautiful day (about 20 degrees Celsius). After lunch, we explored the famous Layfayette shopping center, and wandered the streets of Strasbourg. While strolling along, we came across a few bakeries, where we made purchases in anticipation of the long bus ride the next day, as well as an ice cream shop, where we bought a mid-afternoon snack. We also found a small store that specialized in handmade soaps, and some of us bought gifts to take back to our friends and family. After our shopping excursion, we went back to the hotel to change, and then went for dinner ate a restaurant near the Cathedral. A lot of us ended up sunburnt from enjoying the sun too much considering it was our first real experience with it on the trip! Not having rain while we were here makes it a lot more enjoyable!

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A couple of other students to the centre of Strasbourg with the tram and we had a wonderful grilled salmon lunch at a cafe in one of the beautiful streets. After lunch we continued down the endless pathway of boutiques and shops most of which we do not have in Edmonton. It was interesting to see how different the service in the boutiques is compared to Canada and most North American stores. The sales people in Strasbourg come right up to you and try to help you as much as possible despite the language barrier that exists, even if you say you are just browsing. In Canada I find that if you say you are just browsing, they leave you alone for a while and only occasionally check up on you. After quite a few hours of shopping, we went to get some delicious ice cream that tasted even better than it looked!

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Batorama and Flammkuchen Dinner May 4th

After a long journey on a rainy Saturday, we woke up this morning to find a bright sunny day at Strasbourg. After a good breakfast at the hotel, we went around the famous “La Petite France”. It is absolutely amazing to see the historic medieval buildings along the canal. The whole area looks like it is a blend of German and French architecture as Strasbourg is in the border of France and Germany.

We then walked up to the Strasbourg’s most popular landmark “Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg”, an example of 13th century Gothic architecture. The cathedral has some incredible work of art, sculptures and most importantly a gigantic astronomical clock that are a pleasure to watch. Few of us were lucky enough to be at the cathedral during the 11 AM service time and hence got to watch the service for a while. It is certainly a different experience. Moreover, since it is the first Sunday of the month, we got free access to the top of the historic church. It was almost 66 metres high with almost 360 steps and hence it was a great work out to our legs. However, it is worth the effort, as you just cannot believe the breath taking view of the beautiful city of Strasbourg from the top !

Strasbourg is interwoven with winding rivers and during our Batorama tour we were guided through via an audio tour on a boat. This the first day of the tour were the sun was shining and many of us were sunburnt by the end of the day. During the tour we did go through two locks that raised and lowered the boat roughly 2 meters.

The rest of the day was spent walking the streets of Strasbourg. Our group slowly made their way to Flammkuchen and ended up getting lost as the location was incorrectly posted. But thankfully we were able to run into other classmates and through the grapevine we were able to find the restaurant.

The dinner consisted of unlimited pizza baked on crape flatbreads. It was an absolute cheese overload but well worth it.

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May 3rd

After 4 days and 5 nights of amazing learning experience and some bit of craziness, the group checked out of the hotel in Munich to move to the next leg of the journey, France! All of us were excited to go to the land of romance, crepes and wine. The Munich stay had been amazing with some great lectures and sightseeing and off course how can we forget shopping and partying. From asking a lot of great questions to moving only our hands on a crowed dance floor, we had done it all in the German style.
All 30 of us boarded the bus for a long day. The weather was threatening rain, but that was not enough to dampen our spirits. We were on our way to see the Neuschwanstein Castle, a nineteenth century Romanesque Revival palace which is located on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany.

The area of the castle was marked by beautiful scenery with a scenic lake. Although the weather was foggy and raining, some of us took a walk along the lake. After that we walked up the long steep road to reach our restaurant: Schloss-Restaurant Neuschwanstein. The food was top notch. The warm soup was perfect for the weather and the desert gave us the extra energy to walk up the castle and then down to our bus. As we got out of our restaurant it started raining again. The group stopped just in front of the castle gate to see the astounding view from the various viewpoints. Cups of hot spiced wines were ordered by some people and tasted by many.

We started our tour of the castle at 2 pm. This castle was commissioned by the King of Bavaria, Ludwig II (King from 1864 till his death). This palace was meant to be a retreat/personal refuge for the reclusive king and homage to Wilhelm Richard Wagner, a German composer and theatre director. The completed section of the castle was amazing.

After finishing our tour we got on the bus for our final journey to Strasbourg. We reached Strasbourg around 8.45 pm and every one was assigned their rooms. Some of us went out for dinner to have some ‘German’ Doneir. We all looked forward to our time in Strasbourg.IMG_4135IMG_4116IMG_1315IMG_1344

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