One of the many reasons I was excited about going abroad this fall was because of all the traveling opportunities I would have. Being in Europe for four months opens the door for traveling to so many unique countries. I have never been to Europe, so this was definitely something that persuaded me to choose a European country for my study abroad experience.
Munich, Germany, was the first place on our list. Not because I love Germany, because if I could have chosen anywhere it would have been Athens, but because we had to do Oktoberfest, the ultimate day drink and celebration of beer. It was not an option, this was something that we all wanted to say we had done in Europe.
Unlike a lot of people in my program, we booked our flights and hostel at least a month and a half before Oktoberfest. Yet, there was not that much available when we were booking. And that sure showed its true colors when we arrived in Munich.
After a stressful journey to the airport (because the airport online checking would not let me print my boarding pass so we were almost positive I was not going to have a seat on the plane, just my lucky again), we had a smooth flight to the great Deutschland. Little did we know, our luck was about to change (again).
First things first: we knew we were staying in some sort of “tent” with bunks, but none of us imagined anything close to where we ended up staying. We walked up to what looks like deserted carnival grounds and were greeted by a sign that read “Hangover Hospital.” Oh yes, that happened. And that is when all of our expectations went out the window.
We thought we were staying in a single sex 12 person room: False. It was actually a room for 14 and it was a gender mixed room. So the 8 of us girls stood with 6 boys. Actually, I’m pretty positive there were maybe only 2 other girls staying on the site in general.
We thought we would have walls: False. They were actually made of water proof sheets. How thoughtful, because it rained for 70% of the weekend. And a sheet separated us from the other half the tent where another set of 14 stayed. So you can imagine how quiet it was.
Now, most of us weren’t expecting much. I honestly was not expecting much. But I was expecting actual walls.
Nevertheless, we tried to make the best of it. We snuggled in our bunks, shared blankets, went out for drinks, and stuck together. I thought we would make it through another night in our tent. It was only two nights, right?
The following day we made our trek to the tents. We even left our sleeping tents (don’t think it deserves the classification of a “hostel” anymore) by 6:30 in the morning so that we could stand in line for a table at the most infamous touristy tent, Hofsbrau.
We made it in by 9 am, but little did we know we would be hustled into the upstairs area, which would be cleared out by 10:30 for reservations. We made the best of it once again, ordering our first beers and enjoying our adrenaline rushes.
And this is when it all went downhill (for me). To avoid depressing myself, here are the events of the day in short:
1. Three of us got separated during the transition from upstairs to downstairs. We stood in line, which was not a big deal, until an at least 45 year old man started taking pictures of me. And then shared them with me from across the balcony. They were really attractive close ups of my face. Oh and then to make it even more comforting, he had his friend come give me his number (the number of obscene curses I would like to say are countless, but I will refrain). Yet this helped convince the security guard to let us downstairs to find our other friends because he felt bad for me, or at least I think he did once he stopped laughing.
2. I lost my coat. A perfect, cropped trench I am obsessed with.
3. I got separated from my group because I wanted food. But I convince the outside security guard to let me back in because I was a girl by myself. Being a girl is awesome for reasons like this.
4. I hit my head. Those beer waitresses are super aggressive.
5. Ten minutes after I got back into the tent and found my friends, I somehow got kicked out. And by kicked out, I mean a security guard grabbed me and picked me up and put me back outside the tent. In the rain. And I won’t lie, I cried. Half because I hit my head, but half because I was so frustrated.
On the bright side, I had a great place to return to: the Hangover Hospital. Normally, I would have sucked it up, but after my day my emotions had taken a toll on me and I was exhausted from the lack of sleep in the tent. It was raining, and it was cold in the tent. We packed up our things, and went to go fine a hotel room for the night.
I know this sounds miserable. And thats exactly how I was feeling in each of the moments I listed above. The in between though was incredible. We were standing on wooden tables, drinking some of the best beer I have ever had, screaming out German cheers surrounded by some of my best friends from Elon. Looking out into the crowd and watching hundreds of other people come together, chant, drink, and socialize was amazing. The adrenaline was so high. People would climb on top of the tables and chug their entire mug in front of everyone in the tent, and the entire tent would erupt in cheers. I hated certain moments, but the experience was worth it. Would I ever do it again? Probably not. But it is something I will never forget.