One of the things about London that is so infamously linked with the University lifestyle is (*drumroll*):
The Drinking Culture.
Being the one who lights up like a red lightbulb after a pint of 2% Somersby’s Apple Cider, I don’t consider myself at all the “experienced drinker”. When I found out about the MSA Freseher’s Wristband – £27.00 for 5 parties – I decided that I might as well try to ‘explore’ a new type of lifestyle or culture, and to my surprise, my mother had gladly provided the funds for me to open my eyes to ‘new horizons’.
I would only hope that if my parents reads this, (as it was initially partially written for them to allow them to see into my life far away from home) that they would understand that I am simply learning to become an adult – even though I’ll always be their little girl deep down inside.
Terms like “Boat Race”, “Waterfall”, “Torpedo”, or even just “Gin” got new meanings this week. What I thought was a competitive aquatic activity became a relay of speed drinking. The almost magical glitter of water falling from an edge became the continuously flow of another type of liquid between a group of friends. A dangerous attacking device because dangerous not for the explosives within, but rather the liquid consumers in the process. Lastly, the alcoholic drink usually paired with ‘Tonic’ transformed from a noun to the verb that signified the official ‘initiation’ into sports teams.
Before anyone reading this starts to think that I am an alcoholic, let me just clarify that the events that occur below must be understood as a young fresher’s experience into a new world of adulthood (a little late I know), and should be read as a collection of one-time stories instead of being perceived as the routine life of the not-so-experienced writer.
1. The first time
If you know me, I would’ve almost ‘proudly’ told you about the first time I got ‘drunk’. Although it happened quite a long time ago – it will always be a memory I wouldn’t mind telling over and over again. It all began with a short summer course that happened in Madrid, Spain. Unlike all the other students whom were well over 18, I was the only lonely 14-year old. With a flyer from the school, a few brushes of makeup and lipstick – I somehow managed to enter into a club with some of my friends. They took care of me as I danced the night away, slowly rehydrating myself with what I thought was Fruit Punch. Only later did I realise that this was the wonderful drink of Sangria, which so abundantly refilled my ‘free drinks for ladies’ plastic cup. Needless to say, I had a wonderful night – only to be taken home by a fellow lodger to our host family, tucked into bed, and sent away to the land of dreams and sleep.
2. Pub Crawl
Dressed in our comfortable pyjamas was a big contrast to the restricting, almost painful tape wrapped around our calves as we were tied to one another to begin the “4-legged pyjama pub crawl’. “1-2-1-2…”, right foot, left foot. We slowly hobbled from bar to bar, from one sports society to another. Each of which gave us a challenge to complete, which like the rebels we are, only followed up to where the boundary seemed appealing to us. Gin was not consumed. Ever. Neither was Beer. Although disappointing looks were passed on as the seniors enjoyed gaining that little bit of authority over us Fresher’s, we followed obediently as best as we could.
Though after two bars of boat racing and downing drinks, I did not feel so well. With a glowing ball of gas within my stomach, for the first time I felt like throwing up. My two stuck together friends were impossibly considerate and understanding, dragging me outside to ensure the damage isn’t too severe. However, as the gas came out of my system – I was ready for the second leg of the race. We walked from bar to bar – enjoying ourselves, and quietly taking shots instead of ciders, leaving beers on tables (Shh… don’t let the seniors know… we’d get ginned. again.)
It was here that I realised, as much as pressure from friends could make you leap over your limit, so they may also be the ones allowing you to enjoy yourselves whilst staying obediently within your own drinking limits.
3. Sport team initiation
Tradition. Rules. Fun.
I was used to sport teams being hardcore trainings on fitness, teamwork and other things, but in university, I guess it is rather split between the playing and the drinking. Although the playing was nothing less than memorable – what really stuck in my mind was the initiation. Which included “Ginning”, just because… well, we’re freshers (Yes, it’s definitely a legitimate excuse), more boat races, snakebite, and a slip and slide. It was memorable and fun, though when your head starts spinning out of control, you know that something has gone wrong. Sleepy and shivering (partially from being soaked in water and soap, and otherwise probably from the light breeze that always lay between enjoyable and cold in England), I was fed crackers and water, and carefully taken home to be safely tucked into bed by the wonderful seniors.
In the end, I guess all I can say is that – my intense exploration has come to an end as lectures begin to pile up and homework is now assigned. What I learned was more than I could’ve ever hoped for – and I only wish that this knowledge will be useful in future scenarios, in which I could enjoy myself within too dangerously harming myself.
As today draws to an end, my flatmates and I sat around the table enjoying dinner and a wonderful conversation. When the topic of getting a late night drink came up, I was excited for the opportunity to yet ‘explore’ more about everything there is to know about drinking. However, whilst checking my phone antisocially during the conversation, this bible verse showed up:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Then, the excitement slowly dissipated as I remember about the harm that could be done to my health from excessive, unnecessary drinking. I changed the topic and began wondering about why it is that I began drinking in the first place. “Oh right, to fit in.”
As much as I’d like to say that peer pressure has no effect on me, I have to admit that I do want to fit in with new people I meet – and being such a big part of the culture here in London, I felt the need to engage myself in activities such as these. Though in the end, I now can say that: First, I have a drunk story to tell; Second, I know sufficient to ensure that I know what to and not to do the next time I decide to party.
From OurDailyBread, it reminds us to use our experiences, especially the bad ones, are opportunities for God to build up some virtue within us. So just as these experiences have taught me well, I seek for new opportunities to become a better person. And by that, I mean a better person by God’s standards, not man’s.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10