A Broader Perspective: Oktoberfest and Munich


A Broader Perspective: Oktoberfest and Munich

“A Broader Perspective” is a series detailing my experiences living with a host family in Lyon, France. While I was abroad, I was also able to take several trips to other cities throughout Europe. I hope these personal accounts will portray the many cultural highlights of being in a foreign country as well as provide useful tips for any future Penn students studying abroad!

If you’ve ever had the desire to feel like a sardine in a can or maybe wondered how it feels to be sucked into a vacuum, look no further than the morning opening of an Oktoberfest tent. Never before have I been that physically close to a group of human beings. As the doors swung open one cold morning in Munich, Germany, I held on to the hands of my fellow Penn students for dear life to see what all the fuss was about inside the infamous Hofbräu beer tent.12049422_1172566906092191_8284396419634397744_n

Walking (or rather running) inside, I was met with hundreds of eager festival-goers, many of which sported the traditional dirndl or lederhosen with enthusiasm. Finding even more Penn kids on the inside, we quickly occupied three tables and got to the most exciting part of the fest: the food!

 An Oktoberfest tent is certainly not a sit down restaurant. Workers are moving about endlessly, taking as many orders as possible before heading back to the kitchen to gather armfuls of liter-sized beer mugs. Once settled, I spotted my target and flagged down a lederhosen-clad waiter with a huge basket of pretzels strapped around his neck. Waving him over, I shelled out five euros in a heartbeat for a pretzel bigger than my face.

 While the gimmicky fare was certainly a highlight, I was especially thankful for the authentic culture I was also able to take away from the festival. Straying away from the mostly collegiate Hofbräu and entering the Paulaner tent, I met a German woman and her friend from Switzerland. The two of them were incredibly welcoming, and they gladly made room for some fellow Quakers and me to squeeze onto their bench. Their hospitality and genuine interest in knowing where we were from and what we were doing so far from home was truly a humbling experience.

11218812_10207398774708414_2983629333332886486_n In addition, Oktoberfest is not all beer tents and pretzels. The whole event is characterized by an enormous outdoor carnival; complete with any amusement park ride your inner kid could dream of. It was interesting to learn that there is a family friendly aspect to the festival, and a more relaxing day of wandering the grounds was certainly welcome after the hectic day before.

12079582_10207398763788141_4043373236915805066_nI was also fortunate enough to stumble upon a traveling Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition as it was passing through Munich. The extensive galleries displayed Gaultier’s modern work in equally innovative rooms. One imitated a live runway using a line of mannequins stationed on a conveyor belt with a voiceover explaining each piece. The clothing was eye-catching for its aesthetic appeal but also drew attention from its prominent past wearers, including stars such as Beyonce.

After spending only two days in Munich, I was amazed at how much I was able to experience in such a short amount of time. As it was my first excursion during my semester abroad, I could only imagine what my future weekend trips would have in store.

– Nicole Luo

Image(s) courtesy of: Nicole Luo

1 Comment

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