Germany suggests that you learn German before coming here to study. What they don’t tell you, however, is that even if you do have a C1 level of command over the language, it is still possible that you understand nothing of what the locals speak here! That is the beautiful and yet slightly strange version of Germany which is Bavaria. The locals speak Bayerisch and the Germans don’t really get it.
My bizarre adventure with the dialect started at the München airport itself. Having memorized how to greet people with ,,Hallo” and ,,Guten Tag!”, I forgot all the German I knew when the immigration officer greeted me with a word starting with S. No greeting that I knew from the language started with that letter. It took me a day to realise that the word was ,,Servus” which informally means ,,At your service” . You will hear this word A LOT. Everywhere from gyms to government offices to pubs and even on the street. Also you will never hear this word anywhere in the north. Saying Servus to a Berliner would be a good dare.
You will also hear ,,Grüß Gott”; especially from the older population. It loosely translates to ,,God bless”. You probably won’t catch the young crowd saying that. In my opinion, I do find the dialect pretty cute and it feels like it rolls off the tongue easily. Not that I understand though.
Bavarians are super proud of their culture, as they should be. Some aspects of it are pretty unique to the culture especially with religion and tradition or , as we already saw, the language. Lederhosen for men and Dirndl for women are two traditional outfits that the Bayerisch are proud of. Of course, they do not wear it in everyday life. But in Oktoberfest in München, you see these threads come out with all their glory! Oktoberfest also boasts to be the largest folk festival in the world. I missed the one in 2019 just by a few days because I landed in Germany too late. It got cancelled this year because of the current situation but I am sure there is no way I am going to miss the next one. My lucky friends who were here for it keep talking about it even after a year! There would be so much beer, man! God!
A tip for Deggendorfers out there: Deggendorf has a festival in spring which shadows Oktoberfest: Frühlingsfest. Of course it is not as big as Oktoberfest but my friends say, given it is a small scale event, it feels much more personal and it is easier to have fun with your friends. Oktoberfest is riddled with tourists and could be chaotic if you are planning to attend it as a group of friends.
I do feel pretty lucky to stay here. When I made a list of colleges to apply for my masters, the fact that Deggendorf was in Bavaria was a huge factor in my decision making. Another determinant was the closeness to the Bayerische Wald or the Bavarian forest. But I leave that topic for a different day.
Till next time,
Ajay is an Angewandte Informatik Masters Student (he recently learned the pronunciation) from India. He has been an ESN member ever since and keeps saying he is an Arsenal fan like it is a badge of honour. He loves to eat even though it doesn't seem like he does. He is a traveller who likes to experience new adventures.