As an international student, English drinking habits were a culture shock

You guys are pretty crazy when it comes to alcohol


They say university will change you, and it does in the most unexpected ways. Before coming to university, I was very poorly accustomed to alcohol. Before it was perhaps a drink or two at parties – now tequila has become my best friend.

When I first came to uni, the idea of drinking regularly was a bit frightening for me. As a foreign student, seeing other students absolutely hammered around campus and in town several times a week was a bit of a culture shock.

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Binge drinking does exist back home in France, although it doesn’t happen close to as often as it does here and it’s definitely not as intense. Back there, we tend to drink socially. It has more to do with enjoying a few drinks and sharing a moment with good company and good food rather than getting drunk to have more fun.

Nonetheless, I quickly understood that people in England drink heavily and regularly. It sometimes seems like they have close to no limits when it comes to drinking. That is especially true for students and it can intimidate some people easily.

You will notice that British students drink pretty much every day and it goes from at least a pint or two to a ridiculous amount of shots, pints, mixes and basically anything that contains alcohol. They love to mix alcohols throughout the night, be prepared.

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All this booze

Pre-drinking was also new to me, I had no idea what the concept was and it was a little scary to know that people were already wasted when they went out at night only to drink even more in clubs. Where I come from, you wouldn’t go out sober at night without feeling unsafe so seeing the complete opposite happening here was surprising.

Back home, we don’t really do pre-drinks but if we do, people are most likely going to play ‘never have I ever’ and talk while eating snacks. It’s very chill. Here at pre-drinks, you can expect to get wasted playing ring of fire and have drunken discussions with some music playing in the background – snacks are not usually present, though.

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In my first term, I stayed away from alcohol as much as possible, fearing things might turn horribly wrong if I started drinking. I had a really bad image of binge-drinking and I just could not understand it.

Then came the first time I got very, very drunk. I blacked out twice and got sick while crying my eyes out. The amount of alcohol my English peers can handle on a night out still surprises me, especially because they mix different alcohols and drink very fast.

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It can be a lot of fun

But since that night, I’ve realised that my prejudices were wrong and I’ve overcome the fear of getting drunk. I understood that heavy drinking is part of both British culture and university life. If you want to fit in, you have to make a little effort and not let alcohol get in the way, though binge-drinking isn’t necessary to blend in.

Drinking with the English can seem a little overwhelming for someone who does not drink much or at all. But once you get used to it and take part in it, drinking with them is such a fun experience. They will help out if you’re so off your face you can’t even stand, without ever judging. You know you’re going to have a great time when going out with the English, whether you can drink as heavily or not.