For the first time in 3 weeks, I left Spain and spent this past weekend in Munich, Germany (spelled München in German and pronounced “Munchin”, hence the title of my post). Going into the trip, I was slightly nervous. I worried that attending such a heavily populated event would put me in some kind of danger. I thought about the risk of going somewhere with so many people where security couldn’t possibly control everyone. I let the appalling events of the past year scare me. I almost succumbed. But then, I didn’t.
After discussing my reservations with my friends and my family for weeks, when the time came to leave for Munich, it was almost as if I had talked my fears away. I truly realized for the first time that by not going I would definitely be letting terrorism triumph, but also by dwelling on it so much I was already letting them win.
I know I’ve spoken about this before, but coming from the U.S. I have this skewed perspective that by being on a continent that has suffered multiple tragedies in the past year, I am at a greater risk than I would be if I were home. The truth is that the U.S. is just as vulnerable. We are all vulnerable, and the only thing we can do is live our lives. We cannot let anyone scare us into not going places and not doing what we want to do. I know I need to take my own advice more seriously, but I think that with every conversation, I alleviate some of my anxieties and definitely open my perspective.
As for my weekend in Munich, it was spectacular. Apart from feeling absolutely safe at all times, it was such an exciting weekend. It was great to reunite with so many Vanderbilt friends who are studying across Europe in such an exhilarating environment. The Oktoberfest itself was amusing to say the least. We spent most of our time in the Hofbräu tent, along with all of the other Americans present. Despite the fact that American college students tend to congregate here, there were plenty of native Germans and other nationalities represented, making it quite the cultural experience. Although beer is not my first choice drink, I enjoyed partaking in the Bavarian tradition of pretzels and beer (okay, I may have gotten wine at one point). Oh, and it wouldn’t have been Oktoberfest without my cheesy dirndl (which was identical to the costumes of 3 of my friends).
We spent Friday afternoon and all day Saturday at Oktoberfest, then enjoyed a relaxing dinner at a wonderful Thai restaurant on Saturday night. Seated next to us was another fellow American who took it upon himself to give us a life chat. The man talked about how it’s important to travel and see the world because as Americans, we tend to have this idea that our way of doing things is the only way. This isn’t to say every culture holds a similar belief, but I definitely notice that I do this. He told us that travel allows us to shift our perspective of the world, be it small or be it large. He ended by buying all 6 of us a classic German beer, saying that now we’ve had a new experience with beer and therefore our idea of beer may shift. Although his preaching was starting to get a little bit over-the-top, I really appreciated his message and sincerity in wanting to speak with us. After dinner, we headed home for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, we got up early for a Munich bike tour led by Mike’s Bikes – an American company in Munich. After grabbing coffee and yogurt at a quaint café, we strolled through the charming streets of Munich until we hit the famous Marienplatz – the city center. We met our tour group there and hopped on the bikes. The next 4 hours were spent riding through Munich’s unbelievably picturesque streets and parks. Our tour guide, Abs, was just sarcastic enough to keep things interesting, but also grounded enough to point out historic landmarks and tell us the best stories in Munich’s history. What I found most intriguing about Munich is that the city was largely leveled by the end of World War II, but before being bombed, photos were taken of almost the entire city so that it could be rebuilt after the war. After the war, the town voted to rebuild Munich using the photos and today Munich still appears to be a charming, historic city.
Some of the neatest parts of our tour included having lunch at the world’s second largest beer garden, witnessing surfers at the Eisbach wave, and just riding through Munich’s lush, green parks. Living in Barcelona, a city with little to no greenery, it felt absolutely amazing to be surrounded by so much vegetation.
After the bike tour, we rushed back to our Airbnb and headed to the airport. During our 3-hour delay (once again, I boarded the plane and was then taken off – this time due to bad weather in Barcelona), I had a chance to think about my weekend. The festivities of Oktoberfest were unbelievably fun, but I was shocked by how much I enjoyed the city of Munich. I’d even go as far as to say that it is my favorite city that I have visited in Europe and probably the city that I could best picture myself living in for a long period of time.
For now, I am back in Barcelona and thoroughly enjoying every minute. I love visiting other places in Europe, but after such a high-energy weekend, I was more than happy to be home. Although I could see myself living in Munich one day, Barcelona is perfect for right now. With its nightlife, fabulous weather, and amazing food, I could not imagine studying anywhere else. Sadly, I will be leaving Barcelona again this weekend, but this time I am staying in Spain. Check back in next week to see where I’m going. Expect an abundance of beach pictures featuring the island sun!