Oktoberfest — the learning experience.

Written by Natalie October 22, 2014

Prior to coming to CIMBA, we were told not to plan any traveling in advance to avoid costly travel changes and the fear of missing out. Although this was frustrating, I knew it was all for good reasoning and I did follow the advice… except for Oktoberfest.

I made up my mind that I would be heading to Munich, Germany when I found out I would be in Europe during the festival. Even better was that there were others on the CIMBA facebook page saying they were interested as well. Who wouldn’t enjoy exploring the wonders of Munich, joining in on the German festivities, and tossing back beers? The only foreseeable issue I could think up was that I’m not the biggest fan of beer, but that just meant I could spend more time exploring Munich than at the actual festival.

As I looked at places to stay for the kids I was talking to on facebook, I realized that the prices were only going up. In a frenzy of wanting to go to the biggest beer festival worldwide but also wanting to save money, I decided it was best if we booked as early as possible. After gathering up eleven other students who were dedicated to the idea, going through the frustration of solely researching and planning everything, and getting the okay from each person, I booked a house for twelve from Airbnb. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realized I had no idea who these kids were and there was a chance we wouldn’t all get along. I quickly pushed back the thoughts of any negativity and focused on the fact that I would soon be in Germany!

Fast forward to the week before Oktoberfest: midterms, preparing for the second weekend of travel, and figuring everything out. I had already picked up on the fact that traveling in a big group is definitely not easy. The house we booked was a bit outside of Munich, but only thirty-five minutes away from the festival via train. Not too bad, right? German public transport is some of the most efficient I’ve ever traveled on before, but that didn’t mean it would be easy for some of the students I would be traveling with. Realizing this was the case, I spent a solid couple of hours figuring out the game plan for the train and hoping they too would understand.

Luckily, we all flew on the same flight to Munich and therefore we didn’t have to worry about getting split up there. After stressing out the whole day about actually getting to the house… It was finally my time to shine. I had my map all drawn on and the directions completely written out. Unfortunately, there were two trains that could take us to our house and we just happened to get on the one that took longer to get there. Rest assured, we still got to the house no problem — two trains, one cab, home sweet home.

The next morning, the goal was to get to the festival early enough to get into the beer tents. Our first, and most frustrating/difficult, obstacle was getting a cab to actually pick us up from the house, which took way longer than it should have. But again — after thinking about walking, calling numerous cab companies, and looking into busses — we made it to the festival only a few hours behind at around eleven o’clock. And we successfully got into beer tents, which seemed to be the biggest worry for the group!

Beer Tent Pano

Inside the world famous Hofbräu Festzelt beer tent!

I can’t quite describe how cool it was to see the culture of Germany in action. There were tents made just for Oktoberfest, crowds and crowds of people enjoying themselves, and a whole lot to learn about how Munich worked. I was able to visit with people from all over the world — Texas, Indiana, Italy, Germany (of course), Brazil, ect. — and thus got to experience such an awesome festival. I’ve always loved going to music festivals, but Oktoberfest was a completely new and exciting experience. The tents were full of laughter, the love of sharing a beer with friends, toasting those you know and love as well as those you’ve just met, and dining on the delicious festival foods. The tradition of Oktoberfest is one that I won’t soon forget. It is definitely an experience I suggest to friends, family, and strangers alike… even if you’re not a huge beer drinker – like myself!

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I was lucky enough to also be able to walk around Munich and enjoy the city. It was tiring and frustrating at first until we realized that we weren’t in the city center, but as soon as we got there I had a silly smile slapped on my face the entire time. Heather, a friend and fellow Red Raider from Texas Tech, who is studying in Norway met up with me and it was so surreal to be in Europe together. Her, myself, and two other CIMBA ladies, both named Sam, spent Sunday exploring the city together. Munich is so beautiful and I really enjoyed myself as we wandered through the streets. The architecture in Europe has always fancied my interest, as it is so different from country to country, yet is always so beautiful! I would definitely love to come back and see more of Munich and the rest of Germany someday soon.

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It feels good to be able to cross going to Oktoberfest off my bucket list. This study abroad adventure is allowing me to broaden my already wide comfort zone to new levels. The growth and love for new experiences I am receiving from it is unbelievable to witness. I can’t wait to share my next adventure with you all! Until next time, my friends.

Prost — a German toast,