Drain Out the Drinking AgeSubmitted by muckraker on Tue, 08/19/2014 - 22:26
Back in 2010, I took my non-drinking ideals overseas when I studied in Belfast, Northern Ireland for a semester. I was twenty years old at the time, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I faced my share of name-calling and ridicule when I ordered tap water at every pub I visited. But this may surprise you: the only people who mocked my decision to abstain were Americans.
Minutes into my first Irish pub, two students from Sweden asked me why I wasn’t drinking, and I braced for the usual insults. But when I announced my Straight-Edge lifestyle, they approached me with genuine interest and inquiry, eager to understand my reasoning. It wasn’t just the Swedes, but all Europeans who respected my choice; even the Irish themselves (often stereotyped by Americans as relentless drinkers) proved open-minded.
Yet, for as tolerant as my European classmates were, I couldn’t say the same for some of the Americans, who exported their exalted attitudes toward alcohol. Even though college students could legally drink in Ireland (the drinking age is eighteen), my American classmates still glorified the act of drinking alcohol and nagged me, just as my friends back home had throughout my teenage years.