One of the most popular reasons why college students go abroad is to find themselves. Because I’m realistic and I know my life isn’t a romantic comedy, I did not go abroad for this. Serendipitously, in the past two weekends, I have come the closest I ever will to my life being directed by Judd Apatow and have been on the road to self discovery. From the young and foolish age of 16, I’ve hated beer. If there was only beer at the function, I wouldn’t drink. Beer always made me feel like I ate 12 loaves of bread without the fun of eating the bread.
These past two weekends, I have found myself in the middle of beer capitals of the world: Dublin and Munich. I went to Ireland first for their Gaelic Football version of the Super Bowl: The GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship. As a lifelong bandwagon fan and a hype man, this was a perfect event for me, except for the drink of choice: Guinness.
My friend Eilish brought me to Ireland because a good majority of her family lives there and this was the game of the century. She told me not to be ridiculous and to just order a Guinness at the bar where we were watching the game because no one would be drinking anything else. I didn’t understand why she was so adamant about it until I ordered a mixed drink and I was handed a juice box.
I decided it was time to bite the bullet and try Guinness. At first glance, it looked like soy sauce so that made me feel a little better about trying it. It was truly magical. I felt like I crossed over into a different realm. This was a good introduction to my next adventure: Oktoberfest.
Speak to one person that has studied abroad in the Fall that didn’t go to Oktoberfest. I’ll wait. They simply don’t exist. As a lover of a good darty, I was in attendance. I felt like Dublin was my warm up for the big game. I entered Oktoberfest, in my crispy new dirndl (the traditional German dress) ready to tackle my next beer hurdle.
I was handed my first stein (a LITER) of beer and did not turn back. I was apprehensive because it looked like a bud light (sorry Ally, love u) and that I would have to chase it with a schnitzel. I ended up liking it. I will be forever grateful that I liked Oktoberfest beer because I would suffer a life-long guilty conscience if I took an eight hour bus ride to a beer festival and ended up in the wine tent.
In addition to my new fondness of beer, I would like to add that Dublin and Munich were two of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. Aside from the rolling green hills and crystal clear blue skies, the locals were so friendly and warm. Both countries had some of the most lovely people I have met so far while I’ve been abroad. They didn’t treat us like annoying tourists, but as welcomed guests. As much as I’ll appreciate my experience in these two places for changing my opinions on beer, I will always be thankful for their kindness and the first two genuine welcomes I’ve received since coming to Europe.