Building Language Skills One 18 Letter Word at a Time

18 Letter German Word

…wut?

Before diving in to how Team DHL dealt with overcoming the language barrier in its first 48 hours within Germany, it’s worth noting that I took three years of German in high school. Combining that decade old education with four 15-minute lessons in Duolingo last week and needless to say, my hubris towards reading, writing, and speaking German was at an all-time high when our wheels touched down in Frankfurt on Saturday morning.

And it only took a few hours to be brought back down to Earth.

Luckily for us, the Frankfurt airport is very much a German/English hybrid, with both languages used in tandem on all signage. Most of the customer service agents spoke English as well, which was incredibly useful when we went to pick up our rental car. Even the guy that brought us our car greeted us with a giant “SUP GUYS?” when we arrived at the garage, quickly picking up on our Americana. So much for blending in.

Upon arriving in Koblenz (which is a charming and quite nicely sized German city that sells itself short in its marketing materials – GAP 2015 project?!?!), we quickly realized that we wouldn’t have the same dual language luxury of the Frankfurt airport. I had the genius idea of parking in a garage marked “Frei – 400”, correctly assuming that “frei” meant “free” but failing to realize that it was commentary on the amount of open parking spaces and not the cost of parking itself.

Natalie and Sruti with Church

After we set up shop in our apartment, the team hit the road for an authentic German meal. We found a cozy restaurant in one of Koblenz many, many squares, and after correctly nailing down a table for six, we quickly realized that our German vocabulary was limited to niceties and had a shocking lack of culinary terms. Our waiter, like the attendant in the parking garage, instantly recognized that we were Americans and came prepared with an English menu. We each ordered traditional German fare, with varying different types of meat, potatoes, and sauerkraut. I was in heaven.

First Meal in Germany

We next headed off to the local bars to get a lay of the land. The first bar we went to felt like a dive bar back home. US state license plates adorned the walls, and we even found a confederate flag which was… weird. Our cozy table featured a basket of peanuts, and we were scolded for not throwing our discarded shells on the ground like the rest of the patrons.

More of Irish Pub Night #1

For our nightcap, we ventured into the Irish pub across the street from our hotel. Having patronized many an Irish bar in my young adulthood, I felt in my element. I suavely (or so I thought) ordered “ein Guinness und ein Magners”, coupling my shallow German skills with my deep knowledge of Irish adult beverages. However, the bartender was having none of it, and replied back with the price… in English.

Irish Pub Night #1

Overall, we had a fantastic weekend in Koblenz. We still have much to learn on the language front and on how to not stick out like the traditional American tourist. Tomorrow, we begin our project at TRW, one of DHL’s customers. Stay tuned for more info on our project!

Mistranslation of the Day: When a crying woman approached Devin asking for directions, and Devin replied (in German) “No… do YOU speak German?”

Ausfahrt

Team DHL Assembles in Germany

GAP Avengers

“There was an idea… to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more.” – The Avengers

Eat your heart our Nick Fury.

Just as the Avengers Initiative assembled a team of complementary strengths to “solve” an incredible problem, so too does the Fisher College of Business’ Global Applied Projects program. Introducing Team Yellow, made up of six MBA students who are making the trek to Koblenz, Germany to work with DHL’s Global Automotive Sector.

Brian Glorioso brings three years of finance experience, having worked in the real estate industry following his studies at the University of Chicago. On the strategy, Team Yellow is represented by Devin Henderson and Natalie Jarecki, whose backgrounds include working for The Ohio State University and Abercrombie & Fitch respectively. Sruti Jagabattula gives the team its international flair, with experiencing working for Tata Power and Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited in India. Tim Kiss is the team’s automotive guru, having worked for a Honda supplier in product development for five years prior to arriving at Fisher. And finally, yours truly, Mark Steidler is the team’s marketing resource, with three and a half years in a business-to-business marketing role.

Over the next three weeks, this blog will document our work for DHL, life in Germany, and all of the adventures in between. But for now, we’re trying to fight off jet lag (Ed note: what Mark really means is that the team is exploring the city for the best beer garden). Catch up with us tomorrow when we’ll tell you a little bit more about our project with DHL and life in Koblenz. Auf Wiedersehen!