Foreigners often think of Germans as being strict, punctual, rule-abiding and humourless. Engineers should be one of the most popular professions in Germany. Their favourite food should be bread, sausages and pork knuckles and they like to drink beer. Besides Christmas, Oktoberfest should be one of their „biggest“ festivals of the year. At Oktoberfest they dress up in national costumes, sing and drink in tents.
When you come to Germany, you will find that things are not quite what you think.
I study in a small town and my German friends come from all over Germany. There are quite a few Germans who have never been to Munich, nor have been to Oktoberfest. The Oktoberfest is a two-week, carbohydrate-filled festival of beer and merriment held in Munich, where the event began in the early 19th century. But as an international student in Germany, the world-famous Oktoberfest is still a must-see event.
Munich during Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of Covid-19. In my third autumn in Germany, I finally had the opportunity to attend Oktoberfest.
At the end of September, I arrived in Munich. Summer in Germany disappears very quickly and at the end of September, it already felt very much like late autumn, with a cold wind and light rain. But there was no doubt that the cold rain could not dampen the enthusiasm for the festivities: just after leaving the bus station, I saw men and women dressed in Lederhose and Dirndl. One thing that was noticeably different from my previous visits to Munich was that this time I could see people dressed up for Oktoberfest everywhere in the streets and the shops selling such costumes were particularly hot. I felt like I was in the middle of a huge cosplay party.
Many of my friends are now interning at companies in Munich. The companies they work for have also organized joint Oktoberfest events, booked places in tents, and invited their colleagues to celebrate with them.
Oktoberfest is not all about beer
After breakfast we took the subway to the Theresienwiese, Theresienwiese was named after Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen, the wife of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig.
We arrived at around 13:00 in the afternoon, so the Oktoberfest wasn’t very crowded at this time. Most of the people coming and going were families with children. At the entrance to the Oktoberfest there were lots of grilled sausages, fresh beer, souvenirs, and rides.
When I was in China I also played rides at some of the festivals and some of them would have cameras that would then take random pictures of people playing. My friends and I bought a photo for 5 euros at Wild Maus. I was accompanied by my friends Lei, who has been a friend of mine for many years and is now a student at the University of Munich, and Simona, who is a native of Munich and knows Oktoberfest very well.
We went into a tent around 14:00. Although it was only afternoon, the tent was already full. In the middle of the tent was a band playing. There were some people standing up on tables or stools, moving and singing along with the band. Others were drinking beer and chatting with their friends.
In my opinion, Oktoberfest is not just a festival for drinking beer. It is more of an opportunity to bring people together.
If you’re coming to Germany to study, I highly recommend you go to Oktoberfest!