Thursday, 19 January 2017

My Experience with Alcohol Abroad

My experience abroad, Alhambra Granada

I, like most young Canadians was introduced to alcohol in my high school years - before reaching the legal drinking age. Alcohol then was exciting and promised the good times exhibited in popular movies and endless drinking advertisements. We reasoned that our consumption of alcohol was a duty or responsibility to our age based on these media images. These generalizations followed us throughout our youth and well into young adulthood. However, I’ve found that the excitement that surrounded alcohol began to fade in once my close friends and I made it to our 20’s, and had been to every bar in the city.

Going into my third year of university, I became bored of the usual drunken escapades that had been a part of my teens and start of university. So, when I found out that I would be taking off to Europe to study abroad for a year in Granada, Spain, I was more than ready for a change of pace in my social life. This move brought a wealth of new experiences, but allowed me to make a very important observation in regards to how cultural   the relationship with alcohol is.

My experience abroad
Culture fact: Granada is one of the few remaining cities in Spain that continues to offer free food or ‘tapas’ along with each alcoholic beverage (up to three drinks).  These tapas were really good, and ranged from meatballs and potatoes to pasta salad or mini sandwiches. Three of these are pretty filling, and at no more than $2.50 a drink it was a great way to get dinner on the cheap. Eating (and drinking) this way on the beautiful outdoor patios was also a great way to bond well into the night. Because the food was served with every drink there was less chance of anyone getting a little too tipsy ensuring that the atmosphere remained casual and calm. There I saw alcohol being appreciated in a way that I never really had before. Here at home, cocktails and wine can get pretty expensive so we usually keep our drinking and eating as separate entities. So needless to say, I was absolutely over the moon with Spain’s culture of drinking and eating since it allowed me to enjoy the company of my friends, some incredible dishes, and a lovely glass of vino tinto without becoming undesirably intoxicated.

The world of clubbing over there was also a break with my expectations, as the clubs didn’t open until 2:30 or 3:00 in the morning and didn’t close until 7: 00 a.m. If you wanted to make it into the wee hours of the morning you couldn’t partake in any binge drinking, and the ridiculously expensive drinks in the clubs made sure that you didn’t get a too crazy at the bar either. The layout of these clubs also supported a relaxed drinking atmosphere as they generally included a large outdoor patio space with comfortable furniture to kick back on after dancing to a little too much reggaeton.

While I am partial to the culture of drinking around good company and food outside in the Spanish sun, that culture can hardly exist year-round here in Canada, but that makes our patio season all the more enjoyable while it lasts. All I can really say is that I hope restaurants here feel benevolent enough to doll out free food so that we can take our time to enjoy the small pleasures in life without feeling compelled to binge.

Resources You Might Want to Check Out Yourself:

"Liquor Laws and You: An Operating Guide for Licensed Premises"

"Alcohol Hangover"

Check Yourself

"Low Risk Drinking Guidelines"

Relationships are a big part of the student life experience – from friends to food, a large portion of our adult associations are formed during our university years, and this includes our relationship with alcohol. In our latest series of stories, YouAlberta has partnered with the Healthy Campus Unit to explore a variety of student-alcohol relationships.

Paige - YouAlberta Contributor

Paige is a fourth year BA student with a double major in French and Spanish. She is passionate about anything cultural (especially cuisine) and loves to travel anywhere new. Her hobbies include feeling guilty for taking naps but doing it anyways, watching old French films, and running long distance.


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