Festivals (Tom Mauthe)

Oh, hey gang, didn’t see you there.  I just came back from an extraordinary trip to the city of Munich.  Why would you travel to Munich you may ask? Well chief, I went to Munich because that’s where Oktoberfest occurs.  And let me tell you, the Germans put the fest in Oktoberfest.  This is the largest fest in the world and runs for up to eighteen days.  The reason the fest was moved into September was in hopes of allowing for better weather conditions.  After adjusting to life in Ireland, it was great to see a snapshot of German lifestyle.  Entering the fest, it was clear that I was underdressed in comparison to the folks wearing lederhosen.  In an attempt to fit in with the crowd, I purchased an Oktoberfest shirt only later realizing that this made me stand out as a tourist even more. As I walked around the grounds, I was shocked to find that it was nothing as I had anticipated.  I had envisioned large canvas tents filled with beer and dancing Germans.  While there was beer and dancing Germans, the tents were similar to warehouses that apparently are taken down and assembled every year specifically for the fest.  The beer used at Oktoberfest can only be brewed within the city limits of Munich.  I wasn’t too fond of the beer but the Germans love it as almost seven million liters are served throughout the entire festival.  Another surprise was the rides that were found at the back of the grounds.  There was a Ferris Wheel, a rollercoaster and all kinds of rides you would expect to find at a theme park.  Finally, after exploring the grounds, we entered a tent, and found a spot next to some rowdy German guys about our age.  Throughout the tent, all different nationalities were chanting for their country and the two Germans taught us some cheers in their native language.  At this point I realized that simply cheering “USA” was not going to cut it.  We went into different cheers like “Wheels on the Bus” and “Sweet Caroline”.  At the end of the day, I found some of my friends from Cork and we arm wrestled and chatted with guys from Turkey, London, and Germany.  Oktoberfest was an absolute ball.  There is not really anything like it in the United States.  Oktoberfest is a combination of Summer Fest and Six Flag s, with a heavy helping of German influence It attracts people of all ages, nationalities, and interests.  If you are reading this and studying in Europe during spring semester, you are missing out on the experience of a lifetime.

Tom Mauthe is studying abroad at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland.

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