Greetings from Vienna, Austria! We left Budapest early this morning to begin our journey to Vienna. I am so proud of my group of students! Everyone was packed and on the bus 6 minutes early. If you’ve traveled with a large group, you know this is quite an accomplishment! As we left the city, we did a reflection of cultural variations the students noticed during their 4 day stay in Hungary. This information will be discussed more in-depth as they write the study abroad reflection paper.
On our drive to Bratislava, Slovakia, to the Volkswagen Plant, we were surprised how similar the landscape looked to what we see in the Midwest. We noticed a number of cornfields, wheat fields, and wind turbines.
|looks like Missouri but actually in between Budapest and Bratislava|
|A familiar sight...|
|Volkswagen Plant in Bratislava, Slovakia|
We arrived in Bratislava at the VW plant. You might notice we don’t have many pictures of the VW visit. Cell phones, cameras, etc. were prohibited so we relied on our memory and old fashioned pen and paper to take notes. We split into two groups and headed out throughout the plant. The size of the VW plant was the equivalent to 160 football fields. The students were shocked when they learned that VW produces Audi, Porsche, and Lamborghini in addition to the VW line. I’ve toured other production plants before but was quite impressed with very clean production area. Employees drove bikes around to get from one area of the plant to another. After seeing the men stare at long periods of time at the women in the group, one student was prompted to ask how many women work at the plant in Bratislava. The answer is just 7% and our female tour guide apologized for their behavior stating they don’t see many women in their daily work. Some other fun facts:
- ·Between 1800-2000 cars are produced each day
- · Less than 1 finished car per day is removed for quality reasons
- · The VW plant has its own doctor for employee use. Residents nearby can also visit to see the doctor.
- · Pay at the plant is above average for the area and employees receive a 10% discount on a VW vehicle
- · When it is time to paint the vehicles, five layers of paint are added
- · The robots used cost up to 275,000 USD and there are over 200 used throughout the plant
- · A large lift system is used to move completed cars from different building and to the test track
Overall we had a great visit during our short session with the VW employees. Once we left the plant we headed to the city center of Bratislava for a few hours of free time/time to eat lunch. I went with a group of 6 and we struggled to get our meal and pay by the time we needed to be at the bus. I think from now on we will stick to groups of 4 or less when we have less than two hours.
|Bratislava from a distance|
|Lunch in Bratislava - a greek salad|
The drive from Bratislava to Vienna was about 1 hour 15 minutes and we arrived at our hotel a bit early. After dropping our luggage, we went down for an orientation from our Vienna guide, Manuela. She discussed the transportation system, suggestions for free time activities, and plans for our 4 days in Vienna. After breaking for two hours, we met back for our group dinner at Wiener Wirtschaft. The 3-course meal was excellent and featured cream of asparagus soup, a braised beef dish with potatoes and vegetables, and apple strudel with vanilla cream sauce for dessert. Following dinner, Manuela pointed us in the direction of the amusement park area to see the oldest ferris wheel, etc. All 22 of us ventured to the amusement park (free admission – you only pay for rides or activities you wish to partake in) and enjoyed a few hours of exploring before heading back to the hotel around 11 p.m.
A fun night in Vienna at the Prater Amusement Park
We are getting adjusted in Vienna and saw a number of historic buildings we can’t wait to visit this weekend. I’m looking forward to our free time on Saturday late afternoon and evening to really get a chance to explore the city!