Drinking Culture As American Students While Abroad
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I really don’t care what anyone drinks, how much they drink it, or how old they are. My least favorite thing about social media is seeing the typical college-student posts about alcohol. It’s a waste of my time, and I don’t understand what purpose telling the world about underage alcohol consumption has. Who cares? Live your life.
Yet I do care about underage students studying abroad for the sole purpose of drinking. From my perspective, it’s dumb.
Europe’s drinking culture is ideal; conversational, cafe culture, super relaxed. Alcohol makes you feel good, but there isn’t a drive for parties or going hard like in the US.
I’ve been in Berlin for 3 months now, and get more and more embarrassed for my peers each weekend. I came abroad for the sake of Europe; I came to Berlin specifically because I was fascinated by German culture and wanted to try out living in Europe. I was excited for Biergarten culture, where you sit and enjoy some nice weather, good conversation, and regional beer. Studying abroad is for experiences, for languages, for traveling. Yet every weekend all I see are people shuffling out of our dorms on Friday and Saturday nights. Which fine, experience night life in your new city. Yet what I see is drinking out of recklessness, not out of true, mature desire. They came to drink, and they seem to drink as though they’re afraid the German government might discover that we’re underaged in the US and take this privilege away from us.
But this reckless behavior is exactly why the US keeps their drinking age so high. The taboo gives an appeal to underage drinkers, who in turn aren’t really ready to drink. They make mistakes, which make adults think we aren’t ready to drink, and they take this privilege away from us.
So in case you haven’t gathered it on your own yet, this isn’t for me. Instead of trying Berlin’s hottest clubs, I try to convince friends to go to bars to hang out and relax. But if they don’t want to do that, I’ll stay in. I’d rather relax and enjoy my time in my dorm room than feel anxious and overwhelmed in a club. But what confuses me is when suitemates and classmates admit to me that they don’t really like drinking hard or going out too late. Yet go out anyway. They feel like they should, because everyone else does. But weekend after weekend I hear gross and disappointed stories from clubs, people feeling bad about unreal friendships and over drinking.
So sure, have your fun. Don’t get me wrong, I know just as much as the next person how exciting it is to order an alcoholic drink without batting an eye. But all I’m saying is don’t come abroad solely for the purpose of drinking, ‘cause that’s only going to be new and fun for so long.