In April/May of 2014, a group of UAlberta Bachelor of Commerce and MBA students (with their four amazing instructors) are embarking upon a journey to Europe to explore the business environment in Germany, Austria and France for the BUEC 444/SMO 648 Study Tour. The trip will run from April 27th with the students returning to Edmonton on May 10th.
In preparation for the trip, each student was responsible for an individual response paper to the trip “Germany: Europe’s Reluctant Hegemon”, a group project for a case study regarding a German brewery, and viewing some preparatory youtube videos (regarding etiquette and the German business environment).
We (the 28 students on the trip) will be responsible for writing a blog during the course of trip. Each day a different group is responsible for writing about the day’s activities, so you will be able to hear a variety of experiences during the course of the two weeks!
Starting off, we have group #1 — Comprised of Megan, Ariel, Ilijana and Rachel. We’ll be discussing our travel day, and the activities from our first day in Munich! You’ll also hear from our group again on May 5th! All four of us are undergraduate students, some who are graduated after this class, and some who still have one more year left! Should you be interested in following one specific students’ journey, Megan is also doing her own blog of her trip (not at all associated with the University of Alberta’s blog) at One Girl In Germany (http://onegirlingermany.blogspot.com/.)
Our first day was mostly consumed with travel. Our plane left Edmonton at 11:45 in the morning and the plane to Toronto was filled with turbulence. In the Toronto airport there are TONS of iPads everywhere that are free to use (due to the massive Aeroplan and American Express ads that plague them), and you can order food off of them that’ll get brought to you. Megan was able to get a super delicious chicken sandwich on Gluten Free Bread (YUMMY) so our two hour layover was more than tolerable on her part! Most of us were only able to sleep for an hour, but I (Megan) did get to watch the Lego movie and the Monuments men, so time well spent! As we were landing, we got to see a field where they had the Game of Thrones dragon and words cut into a field — it was super cool to see and so well done!
When we got to Germany we breezed through customs pretty quickly and getting our luggage was no problem at all — except for the fact that our group was so massive we kept getting in everybody else’s way. The flaws of a 32 person group tour! From the airport we went to the train station where one of our professors, Rolf Mirus, purchased tickets for us to ride the train. We took up pretty much an entire train car and upset some German old lady when we couldn’t offer her a seat because our baggage was too in the way — she went to another car grumbling at us in German. Going through the German countryside was super pretty and super awesome. There’s a ton of beautiful graffiti, the type that looks clean cut, or the type that’s supposed to make you think about the world in general. The houses are nice and tiny and some are almost run down, but I’m sure they’re gorgeous to live in — it’s so nice and green everywhere around you, so it can’t be all bad! All the train stations have a bunch of bike racks, and you see way more bikes than cars — and we have yet to see a truck. We’re definitely not in AB with our Ford F150s! Even their delivery trucks are smaller here — they are definitely super efficient with how they use their space!
Off of the train we had to wheel our luggage a couple of blocks to the hotel, which was an excursion all in itself! The crossing lights here don’t warn you when they’re about to turn red, so we got stuck in the middle of a road on a boulevard — we’ve learned out lesson about crossing real fast, and not in large groups!
When we got to the hotel and into our hotel room, we realized how much Germans do value space — I’ll try to get some pictures up here on this, but they might come later when I’m back to just kind of round out the stories! There were two twin beds squished together, and then pretty much not else in the room! There’s a tiny little table, and then the bathroom essentially is a little hallway of its own. Also — the doors are made to cover the doorframes, so to us it looks like our doors are always open and we keep getting confused and kind of freaking out. I guess we’ll have to get used to German doors!
After we checked in, we had a bit of free time to go and explore. Ariel tells us she stayed in the hotel and napped — which proved to be the smartest strategy of us all. Six of us went off (including Megan, Ilijana and Rachel) to find a drug store, a bit of food and got caught up exploring like crazy. Rachel and Megan really wanted to try McDonalds to compare it, and now we can say their fries taste exactly the same — still delicious and addictingly salty! From there we went to find this random square Kurtis believed he had heard about, and the adventure began! This will get a lot better with pictures, but we began in this little courtyard with tons of pigeons and stones to sit on, and Rachel pretty much started a fight by throwing them a fry. From there we walked on through a bunch of stores that had been built into a really old area that included a bunch of cathedrals and other castle like buildings. We have a ton of pictures, including from the top of a castle-like building (we’ll have to figure out what they actually are) that cost us 2 Euros to get to the top of. Super worth it, because we got some pictures overtop of Munich, and got to leave our names inscribed on the walls forever! (Or until they paint it over — it looks like enough people have that they paint it over every once in a while). We also met a family from Edmonton! It’s odd how Canadians ALWAYS find each other everywhere they go! The churches here are so pretty and ornate and it was cool to explore them all and take pictures of everything!
After we started to get tired, we walked back to the hotel to have a little bit of a break before dinner. The wi-fi in the hotel is pretty good, so for the first five days it shouldn’t be too hard to keep in contact via facebook. For dinner we walked to a little pizzeria (Italian food while we’re in Germany — oh well!). Megan accidentally fell asleep at dinner, having been up for 26 hours in a row and having gotten her fair share of walking in. So after dinner, while a lot of people went to get ice cream some of us went back to the hotel with a few others, showered and passed out. All in all, travel day was a success!