Photo courtesy of Winchester Student Union

By: Julie Pike, Staff Writer

I have to admit that one of the many reasons why I was excited to study abroad was to get to be in a country where the legal drinking age was 18. I have less than a year left until I turn 21, but I was looking forward to the thought of having a drink with dinner or being able to go out to a pub.

Here I am in England, where it is practically normal to drink wherever, whenever, and however much you want. It has been over three weeks since I have left home, and since then, I have enjoyed having a beer while out at a restaurant and have tried a fancy mixed drink at a pub.

The other students at this University, however, like to drink quite a bit more. As an international student, I unfortunately got stuck in a dorm that is mainly for first-year students. So, that means that I am surrounded by dozens of new 18-year-olds enjoying their freedom away from home, which includes a lot of drinking and going out.

It is common for students to go out and drink on Mondays, Tuesdays, and/or Wednesdays here—whereas I would prefer to go to bed early on those nights, an option that is not possible in my dorm. Often I will wake up to students coming back from the club in the early hours of the morning: yelling, singing—basically being as loud as they please.

I have even been woken up by a group of kids deciding to play a prank on people by knocking on their door and yelling “housing.” As someone who is in their junior year, I am a little sick of that kind of behavior.

While I am sure that being able to drink at their age is all fun and good for them, I cannot help but imagine when they get school work done. When do they ever sleep?

Since the legal drinking age here is 18, that leaves the door open for universities to host parties on campus because basically every student here is of legal drinking age. At the University of Winchester alone, there are three bars on the main campus, not to mention the countless options in town.

The University of Winchester Student Union hosts parties almost every weeknight at the club on campus. It makes me wonder why the University would want students to be up late partying on a school night, when I am sure many of those students have class the next morning. It seems like it is just setting these students up to skip their lectures because they will be too hungover.

On one hand, I believe that it is great that the University offers students a safe way to be able to drink and have fun while remaining on campus, but it just does not seem logical to host these parties on a weekday.

The vastly different drinking culture here in England makes me think about whether or not having a younger legal drinking age is worth it. To me, it seems as if these students are too immature to be able to spend every night out late killing their livers. I have not even been able to drink in my country legally yet, and I already feel more laid back about it. At my age, I have no interest in getting wasted night after night.

With age comes maturity, and that is why, I believe that it makes sense to have the legal drinking age be 21. I cannot imagine how the constant nights out drinking affects their grades and performance in class. An older drinking age could help these young students do better during their first few years of university.

Back in the states, I never thought that I would be someone vouching for the drinking age to remain at 21, I always wanted the independence. I wanted to go to bars in the Old Port, be able to order a drink in a restaurant or simply feel that I was a true adult.

Truthfully, being able to drink does not equate to being a responsible adult, even if you are over 18 or 21 years old. An adult needs to be mature enough to realize that there are more important things in life than being able to go out drinking and partying, such as your education and future career.

At the age of 21, young adults are generally more equipped to take on the responsibility of being able to drink, and it truly is a responsibility. You need to know your limits and know what the effects of drinking too much can do to you, something that 18-year-olds are often not prepared for. Having this experience in another country makes me grateful that I grew up in the United States. If I had grown up in England, my experience at university would be very different.



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