Day 1: An Interesting Start – Dylan Vergara

Today was an interesting start to the trip, to say the least. I flew out of O’Hare Airport, as did several other groupmates and Dr. Reg. However, a decent portion of my groupmates flew out of Indianapolis, expected a connection to DC, and then would fly to Munich. This group got caught in a snowstorm in DC, so they missed out on most of today’s activities. Those who did fly out of O’Hare and did not have to deal with the snowstorm were able to hit the ground running upon arrival in Munich, allowing a smaller group to truly begin their Germany trip. And I was among them.

At O’Hare Airport, I began interacting with my groupmates. I learned their grades and majors. I noticed that my current group has a sizeable majority of engineering majors in multiple disciplines, though I have someone in the group who is a science major (biochem).

Upon landing in Munich and checking in to the hotel, my group with Dr. Reg prepared to visit Dachau concentration camp by boarding the train to Dachau train station. This was the very first activity of the trip, and it was a heavily emotional one, to say the least. Many of us have read about the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, but to see one in person and know that the horrors really happened there was a new level of unsettling. Our tour guide went in depth about the harsh forced labor procedures and conditions the prisoners endured, as well as bigger underlying topics such as how the German population during the time readily accepted Dachau concentration camp. We then came to learn and truly understand that the concentration camps did not happen overnight, but were accepted little by little, thus making way for far more horrific atrocities such as the extermination camps in Auschwitz.

The main gate of Dachau concentration camp.

After reflecting on our visit to Dachau, we boarded a train back to Munich. We then visited the iconic Hofbraeuhaus and ate there for dinner. Along the way, we identified numerous different landmarks in the center of Munich, such as the cathedral and city hall. Both buildings had prominent towers, with the cathedral having two towers and the city hall having a tower equipped with a glockenspiel. The city hall was located in a large central plaza known as Marienplatz, surrounded by shops and centered with a monument. I found the center of Munich to be clean and polished, with the beautiful architecture of the city hall being the main highlight of the center of the city.

Munich City Hall

I have had a good trip so far. A mix of educational and fun, while expanding my worldview and opening up to new people.

– Dylan Vergara