September 20, 2017   //   International   //   By Mike McAvoy

First things first, the language learning app, Duolingo, is a sham.  When I concluded my three week crash course in learning German I reached a respectable 16% fluency rating which I learned very quickly was a vast overstatement. However, aside from having no idea what people are saying or what anything says…so far so good! The fact that everyone I’ve interacted with thus far also speaks English, definitely helps.

This is my first time overseas so there has been a lot to take in.  Easily the most shocking discovery has been waking up to Scott (another current Mueller GEEP candidate) cooking a full course spaghetti meal at 8:30 in the morning on day one.  We had plans to meet with Alex (previous Mueller GEEP candidate) and his wife, Hannah, along with Isabella (previous German GEEP candidate) and a few others and take a train to a mountain beer garden about 45 minutes south of Munich.  Now the spaghetti may or may not have been the reason for running late but between the overnight flight and having my first experience with jet lag, I was in no rush either.  Quite frankly, I didn’t realize the severity of our tardiness until we started walking towards the subway and heard Alex let out, “RUNNNN!!!” I couldn’t see him at this time but I could feel his fury, so we ran, and we ran fast…and fortunately made the train!

It ended up being a great first full day, the hike to the top of the mountain had amazing views and it only got better the higher up we went.  When we reached the top there was a church that was a piece of art in itself. In doing some research after the fact, it appears we were in the municipality of Andechs.  The beer garden serves solely Andechs beer that has been brewed by monks from the Andechs monastery since 1455. I rarely ever drink but had a few Miller Lites in the weeks leading up to the trip to prep…this stuff was better. Food wasn’t so bad either, the pretzels are huge and the sausage and pork offerings were definitely hearty portions as well. We stayed at the top for several hours then made the trek back down to catch the train back to Munich.  The day wasn’t done yet though. Alex, Hannah, Isabella, Scott and I met up with Marco (previous German GEEP candidate) for dinner. My first taste of German Schnitzel was a very good way to wrap up day one!

The next day Scott and I ventured out to do some exploring and were greeted by a massive street fest near downtown. We walked around for a while then met with Lina, a PKF employee, who gave us a tour of the city and showed us some of the main sites.  The one that stood out the most was seeing about a dozen people surfing in a river that had man made rapids. We had heard about this the day prior from Isabella but were impressed to see it in person! Munich seems to be a very good city to walk around in and every street you go down has something interesting to take in.

In terms of the living arrangements for the next few months we really lucked out as we have a two bedroom apartment in a very nice part of Munich. We had no idea where we were staying until we got here but when walking up to the apartment I realized based on the amount of new BMW’s and Mercedes parked on the street, I shouldn’t be too concerned.  I felt a little out of place honestly with how nice it was, but that all changed when we went to the office for the first time where it was time to feel really out of place.  The PKF Munich office is located on Maximilian Street which apparently is the richest street in Munich and I could see why! There are plenty of stores I’ve never heard of and all seem to be empty but somehow stay in business.   PKF Munich operates on multiple floors in the building they are in and it is very conveniently located near public transportation. I’m trying to convince myself that if I look past how long the names of the stops are it’s actually a pretty simple subway setup. However, when we have to look for the train with the last stop of “Garching-Forschungszentrum” my brain shuts off pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, the more I’m out here the more I’m realizing Germans did not try to help themselves out in anyway when forming their language. All I can say is I owe a lot to whoever decided it was a good idea to have English written menus on standby at restaurants here.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the logistics involved in auditing a company of Siemens’ size but I look forward to gaining a much better understanding of the processes as the weeks progress. Overall, the people I’ve met at PKF have been very welcoming and helpful with any questions. Prior to leaving for Munich, Scott and I met with Alex and Mike (previous Mueller GEEP candidate) to discuss their experiences with the exchange program and hear any advice they’d have to offer. The main takeaway I took from that conversation was it was one of the best experiences of their lives. Although I’ve only been here for a short period of time I have a feeling that will ring true for me as well. Munich seems to have a lot to offer between the people and sites and I’m looking forward to all the experiences ahead. Unfortunately, the second takeaway I had from that dinner was for some ungodly reason the German keyboards flip flop where the Y and Z keys are located (among other changes).  I wish I could say I wrote this blog with the PKF laptop for practice but oh no, my Mueller laptop is working just fine and readily available.   I’m going to blame the jet lag for that one and move along!