“Not too far”, a phrase we have heard so many times from our hosts over the past few days in reference to the distance to particular destinations. To us it means a couple of blocks, yet here in Germany we have found that the phrase carries a much different connotation. Virtually anything within the city limits seems to be, “Not too far” from the German point of view.
As a group though, we have traveled far. We departed Wisconsin this past Saturday and took an evening flight from O’Hare International Airport. Our total flight time was roughly eight and a half hours. The local time upon our arrival in Frankfurt was 10:15 am. After venturing through both customs and baggage claim with everything accounted for we met our student mentor Timm who had come to the airport to help us navigate the trains required to get to Fulda. After a short train ride from the airport we arrived at the Frankfurt train station to transfer trains for the final hour of our travel through the German countryside on our way to Fulda.
The town of Fulda is located in the state of Hessen in central Germany, roughly 60 miles northeast of Frankfurt. It was founded in the year 744 when St. Boniface instructed St. Sturmius to found a monastery to be used as a missionary center as well as a place of retirement for St. Boniface. After his death St. Boniface was buried in the town in the year 754. Since then over the centuries the town has grown and developed into its current size of roughly 65,000 citizens.
After a brief period of settling into our hotel we were off to a welcoming event that was put on by our host university, Hochschule Fulda, University of Applied Sciences. The university was founded in 1974 and supports approximately 5,000 students who are studying fields such as Economics, Nutrition Science, Food Technology, Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, Nursing and Health Science, Social and Cultural Studies, and Applied Computer Science. The President of the university Dr. Karim Khakzar welcomed us to the International Winter School. His presentation was flowed by the Director of the International Winter School Dr. Irina Kohler who further elaborated upon the history of the school and the program we were a part of. Our final presenter was Gesa Pusch, the managing director for our program. Over the past few months she was the person who had been scheduling and coordinating many of the activities for our trip.
We had little time to adjust to the time change as we had class at 8 am local time Monday morning. We had three students join our program as well for the two weeks. Kinga and Joanna joined us from Poland as well as Ali who came from Uzbekistan. We spend the first two class periods from 8:00 am to 11:15 am discussing the varying aspects of globalization and doing business internationally. In addition to the principals and practices we also discuss specific countries each day and the risks and rewards of doing business in those places. We are able to gain incite not only from our own discussion, but also through the perspectives provided by the students who have joined us. In addition to our business course we are also taking courses in language, dance, and cooking. Our evenings thus far have been spent at various local establishments experiencing the local culture.
This evening (Wednesday) we attended a reception at the town castle hosted by the Mayor of Fulda Dr. Wolfgang Dippel, exclusively for us. Known as the Palace Residence or Stadtschloss, the castle is one of the many examples of Baroque architecture for which the town is known. After a short speech by the Mayor, we were treated to some refreshments and then taken on a short tour of the residence. Currently the building functions as the town hall, but it also includes many large and impressive banquet halls, as well as the former prince-abbots apartments.
Tomorrow we are going to be able to tour Tegut Logisitk, a local logistics company based out of Fulda. Then on Friday morning we leave for Berlin for the weekend to see various sites and tour certain attractions. We have witnessed and experience so much so far in such little time and we still have nine days left here in Germany.Auf Wiedersehen