This article belongs to Life in Britain column.
A popular question among British people is "What do you drink?" roughly translatable as "What's your favourite alcoholic drink?" Answering that I rarely drank alcohol gained me several odd looks. I also overheard many conversations, and was part of some, where people told each other about how drunk they were at any particular night, as though this was an achievement to be proud of.
It's not that Germans don't drink, mind you. Of course they do. But, when German people go out to the pub, they normally do this in order to meet their friends and have a chat, have fun, be sociable. Getting drunk might be a side effect to this. In
A group-exercise in one of my courses at uni served as another eye opener to British culture for me. During a general presentation course, our group was asked to list the pros and cons of alcohol consumption. The members of our group were largely British, except for one Irish girl and another German person besides me. However, we two Germans hardly got a word in edgewise during the following discussion. It was as though an avalanche had been let loose from a high mountain full of snow. The British students, among with the Irish girl I should say, literally almost fell over themselves (we had to write and draw on a poster, so we were sitting on the floor) in order to list the many benefits of alcohol. They pointed out how it loosened your inhibitions, how the most ugly people could become beautiful in your eyes if you just had enough drink in you, and how easy flirting became once you were sufficiently intoxicated. When hard pushed for coming up with a downside to alcohol, they eventually decided to put on the poster 'don't drink every day'. They did admit that this was probably not healthy.
When in a pub in
One thing I found really hard to get my head around was this notion of drinking alcohol for the sake of being 'sociable'. In my opinion, the fact that someone needs alcohol in order to have fun sounds contradictory to the concept of 'sociable', yet this is another issue I might have a rant about in a completely separate article!
Yes, I better admit it: the British love for drinking alcohol was something I found very hard to understand. The subject of alcohol was probably the phenomenon that caused my biggest culture shock over there, and the thing to which I could least imagine adapting.