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Boozeburg University: A Danish perspective on the American drinking culture

Jakob Holm, Contributing Writer

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     It’s Friday and I am looking at the clock which says there are only ten minutes until the weekend! Excitement and happiness flows into my mind. Not because I am done with school (though that might be part of the reason) but mainly because the scene is set for a tremendous day with booze, buddies and beachy weather. “Have a nice weekend,” the professor says. Finally!

     We are heading straight to the nearest supermarket to fuel up our backpacks with beers and then off to the public park we go. If the mood is right the party will go on until 6 in the morning and probably end at the local bakery in the search for breakfast. This is how most of the Fridays in Denmark unfold, at least when the weather isn’t too bad.

     Sixteen is the legal drinking age in Denmark and there are no restrictions on where the alcohol can be consumed. We are even allowed to behave like the Eagles won the Super Bowl every week. These are the rules and laws concerning alcohol consumption which I am used to living by as an exchange student from Denmark.

     As an international student I really looked forward to experience some of the cultural differences between Denmark and the United States. With that being said, I must admit the American alcohol policy appears to be a real struggle for me to adapt to.

     The fact that one cannot enjoy a last “I-am-going-to-the-bar” beer when heading downtown seems tragic. Walmart offers everything from big teddy bears to firearms but does not have a single drop of alcohol in the widest assortment I have ever seen seems outrageous for me as well. You guys are not even allowed to drink at the “parties” arranged by the University. The alcohol laws do indeed seem harsh.

    The experience of going to the bar in Bloomsburg is somewhat different from the Danish experience. To give you an idea of the differences in the drinking culture of Denmark and Bloomsburg I will try to reconstruct a Friday night out in Bloomsburg and take you with me on the journey. I want you to imagine that you are a foreigner and that you do not know anything about the nightlife in Bloomsburg. Are you ready? Okay, let’s go!

     It’s 8 p.m. and we are at a friend’s place downtown having a good time pregaming. We’re playing Flip cup, Beer Pong and the Ring of Fire, all the classics. Suddenly someone picks up a Bud Light and yells “SHOTGUN!” Everybody around us immediately picks up a beer can, plugs a hole in the bottom with a scissor or a key and finishes it. The very same scenario happens a few times in the next two to three hours. Meanwhile the two of us are a few beers behind the rest since we are used to sipping our beer.

     First difference: Danish people do not bottoms up as often as people in Bloomsburg, and thereby do not reach the same level of drunkenness that early in the night.

     It’s now 11 p.m. and everybody’s energy levels peak as a result of the shotguns. The whole group decides to hit the bar. In the attempt to catch up with the others you and I bring a beer each which we plan to enjoy while waiting in the endless line for Capitol.

     Unfortunately, we are only able to take two sips before our friends tell us to get rid of the beers since it is illegal to drink in public. After freezing like we were standing at the summit of Mount Washington, we finally get into Capitol. We are checking out the bar for a few minutes before we confusingly look at each other and ask: “Where are all the children?”

    Second difference: The Danish bars are full of young people since the legal drinking age is five years lower than it is in the United States. (This is very awesome if you are sixteen and eager to lose your virginity, but otherwise you are likely to feel like a babysitter sometimes).
Its 2 a.m. and everybody is leaving the bars to go home. The two of us are almost at peak drunkenness, which means that we are very disappointed with the early closing. We find ourselves sitting at Frank’s when we realize that we have to walk all the way to upper campus since the last drunk bus just left. However, as a consolation we will both wake up only with a minor hangover.

    Third difference: The Danish bars do not close before five or six in the morning but the hangovers are terrible.
As an endnote to this review of your beloved nightlife I would like to suggest a new slogan. BU a good place to Bottums Up.

Jakob is an international student from Denmark. He is a contributing writer for The Voice

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Boozeburg University: A Danish perspective on the American drinking culture