Sunday, June 15, 2014


This morning after breakfast we took bus and train to Essen to attend a class at the Universitat Duisburg-Essen.  We were with masters students who study healthcare economics & management.  

Our preceptor, Dr. Pfeifer (Josh), led a discussion about international pharmaceutical markets.  We compared healthcare systems, best practices, cash flow and licensing of pharmaceuticals, and forces of change affecting pharmaceuticals.  

Our group with a few Essen healthcare economics & management students

Universitat Duisburg-Essen

From Duisburg-Essen University, we walked to Noweda, which is a German pharmaceutical wholesaler. 

Walking by some leftover storm damage in Essen

Noweda is a cooperative of ~8600 pharmacy owners that are members and shareholders of the company.  The business is ranked 153rd in Germany.  

Visit to Noweda

Besides supplying and delivering pharmaceuticals to the pharmacy, Noweda assists with marketing and displaying products in the pharmacy.  They also provide economic counseling and pricing, quality management, and political advocacy for pharmacists. 

We received a tour of the Noweda facility, which spurred a lot of questions from our group.  

Noweda supplied us with plenty of chocolate 

After our visit to Noweda, we tried to go shopping but got off on the wrong stop, so just decided to head back to Velbert...missed a bus that was packed with people anyway...witnessed a "fire" at the train station (smoke and fumes come from a grate)...boarded a packed train to get back to Velbert, then bussed the rest of the way back to Velbert just in time for dinner from Ms. Biester at 7:00 pm. 

Tonight was full of unpacking and packing and prepping for a weekend in Belgium! 

Universitat Bonn

Our train to Bonn was actually a successful one.  When we saw the rest of the group, we were thrilled! The "Dortmund Four" crammed our stuff in a locker, and our group then hopped in a bus for the University of Bonn. 

Corey and Michelle got stuck on the bus for an extra stop and Sebastian almost had a heart attack,   but all was well when I could see the yellow bag and blue shirt in the distance, meaning they were off the bus. 

I spy a blue shirt & yellow bag

At Bonn University, we joined a clinical pharmacy class.  We listened to 3 clinical case presentations and participated in a discussion about the cases and comparisons between USA and Germany afterwards.  

One of the patient cases

With Bonn University students

When class was done for the day, we walked to Harmonie Biergarten with Bonn pharmacy students, where we chatted and enjoyed essen und getranken!


Currently on a train back home (to Velbert), I really hope this one reaches our destination...

Dortmund Four Detour

Or so we thought our train ride was close to being over...

As we were almost to our transfer destination in Hannover at 7:30pm, a voice came over the loudspeaker- in German- telling us our train from Hannover to Wuppertal was cancelled, and we should stay on the current train.  Thanks to our friendly neighbors for translating. The train we were on would go to Wuppertal, but just take about a half hour longer. 

At around 9:00 pm, we started to see flashes of light in the sky, and some rain.  Once we stopped at the Dortmund train station, the rain and wind were incredible, nearly knocking over a girl with her suitcase.  When all those outside our train waiting headed for the stairs simultaneously, I knew something was up.  Another announcement on our train informed us that we had to wait on this train at the Dortmund train station until the storm passed. 

Storm ensues while we are stuck at the train station 

All was okay though...people were talking, even singing, and we met a new friend in the row next to us.  When we heard all trains in the state of North Rhine Westphalia were ceased until the storm passed, our train offered us all free drinks.  We were pleasantly surprised when we realized this included the adult beverages :)  At nearly midnight, some of us went into the train station to grab some food, knowing the train wasn't moving for awhile.  Right as we got back on the train, an announcement informed us that all trains in the state were cancelled for the rest of the he night, and we had to get off the train.  "Uuuuugh" is what we were thinking and feeling, but at least we could just go grab a taxi...or so we thought. 

Prost! Free wine for our train troubles

We waited in lines of a ridiculous amount of people trying to get taxis.  It was impossible to hail a cab, and they kept ignoring everyone.  After about an hour, we realized that some people actually getting cabs had pieces of paper they were handing over.  Heidi and I ran back into the train station to get one of those pieces of paper- a free taxi ticket from the Deutschebahn!!  We thought we hit the jackpot.  Turns out, all the taxis still did not want to drive us the hour and a half to Velbert.  We thought it was because they were jerks, but turns out they were jerks who didn't want to drive towards the storm and storm damage.  

At around 2:00 am, we decided we would take that hotel room Josh booked for us, but we felt bad because we turned it down 2 hours ago thinking we could easily get a cab ride home.  Two hotels nearby were completely full, so we got directions from Josh for the A&O hostel. They had vacancies, and said they would maybe take a free hotel ticket from the DB.  So Heidi and I ran back to the train station to get a ticket for a hotel.  The guy working said- "go to hotel espanada...50 free rooms, I called 20 minutes ago." And gave us a map.  Heidi and I basically started running, thinking this guy was crazy.  But it was already 3am, and this night couldn't get any more ridiculous.  We made it to Hotel Esplanade, where a very hardworking man was writing up tickets for people coming from the train station to stay there for the night.   We easily got 2 hotel rooms- FO FREE!!- and ran back to the A&O to get Sarah and Michelle.  The only damage done was a $12 fee at the hostel because Michelle had already made the beds...

Our savior in Dortmund

So off to Hotel Esplanade, where the line was now 20 people long. Thank god we'd gotten in 10 minutes before :) Sarah and I headed up to our room and opened the door.  Once inside, I had a strange feeling when I saw a bag in the entrance that was not there when Heidi and I checked it out before... And we sensed a strong malodor.  Turning on the lights revealed some train workers' stinking shoes and suits hanging up in the closet.  Turns out the hardworking man at the hotel lobby was accidentally double booking rooms!!! Aaah this happened to Michelle and Heidi too.  Once we got a new clean room, we locked the door behind us and finally settled in for the night. 

In the morning we received word from Josh that we should board a 9:06 am train to Essen and get a taxi from there to Velbert.  After 4 hours of sleep, we weren't too pumped to be back at the train station.  After the 9:06 train and 3 thereafter were cancelled, we decided to go back to that amazing Hotel Esplanade and stay another night, because all trains were cancelled towards Velbert for that day. Surprisingly, we got another free hotel ticket from the DB and another free night at the hotel!! #livinthegermandream 

The next morning, people still waiting for taxis

 2 free nights in a 4-star hotel

The rest of the day we spent napping, shopping, snacking, and dining in Dortmund.  We soon became recognized as the "Dortmund Four" by the rest of our group safe back in Velbert. 

Dortmund Four