For the first twenty years of my life, I was sober. I somehow managed to defy the Irish stereotype which ultimately results in the notion that we, as a nation, are “fond of the drink”. I avoided the drug for longer than most people expected, or indeed thought was normal, seeing as I got a lot of questioning over it. Strangely, much more so as an underage non-drinker, which eventually resulted in me sadly giving up on the battle with peer pressure, and having about enough drinks to count on one hand, while I was seventeen. I then turned eighteen, and decided that because I could now legally drink, it was an ideal time to give up drinking (logical, eh?), not that I’d ever really started.
Yes, the drug I’m talking about is alcohol. Many people don’t consider it a drug, but it is. Apparently, it’s more harmful than heroin and cocaine, though that could just be based on the sheer number of people who cause harm to themselves or others because of alcohol, compared to other drugs. Look at me, referencing things I haven’t a clue about – you’d swear this was an assignment!
I have literally started drinking in the hope that it will improve my college results. No, seriously. This is basically an experiment to see if it will. That or I’ll become a fully fledged alcoholic, only time will tell.
The craic may also secretly be a factor, but it’s more empowering and mildly amusing for me to think of it as a means of helping my education.
I study languages. My course involves a huge amount of travel – we generally spend between a year, and a year and a half of our four-year course, abroad – usually in two different countries. The idea of this, of course, is that we greatly improve upon the languages we study. Naturally, this involves meeting a lot of new people, and often being in situations where you’re both the only outsider, and the only one non-native speaker of the language. It’s often difficult being an outsider when you can speak the local language, but add to this an inability to express yourself clearly, or communicate with others easily, and it makes for some tricky situations.
And that’s where the alcohol comes in. I’ve both noticed, and been told, that alcohol makes people talk more. Even when it’s not in a language they’re fluent in – that doesn’t matter. The alcohol doesn’t care. It just thinks you should speak. A lot. So you do.
(Not exactly a groundbreaking discovery here, but, as I may have hinted before, speaking a language actually helps you improve it. Probably more so than any other form of study.)
Basically, I could spend all day in the library studying French grammar, or I could go out in a French-speaking area, have a few drinks, and chat away with people in French for the night. The latter sounds like more fun, and could very well be more beneficial. Yes, it’s times like this that I rediscover my love for my course. You know, when our assignments are basically to go travel and have the craic in whatever languages we’re studying (*ahem* as well as, of course, work and study and all that…), rather than readings and essays and the likes.
Sure, I can easily talk plenty without alcohol, but I’ve found that it requires a lot of effort, sometimes, and that even when I’m confident enough in my ability to communicate, I end up being really quiet in large groups. Or just in general, when it comes to languages other than English. I’m used to embarrassing myself by needing a few attempts at saying what I’m trying to say, or simply saying things incorrectly, or being misunderstood because of my accent (if I had a euro for every time someone thought I said I was from ‘Holanda’, or ‘Hollande’, instead of ‘Irlanda’, or ‘Irlande’…). I don’t care as much about that anymore. But I’ve found that when I am brave enough to chat in groups, that it sometimes takes me a while to pluck up the courage to do so, or that I simply don’t do it enough. And it’s sad relying on alcohol to counteract that, but honestly, it’s way easier, and far more efficient. (I’m lazy.)
So there you go. I really have given up being a non-drinker for the purpose of language learning. That, and I won’t lie, after a few years you do get a little sick of being completely sober while a minority of extremely drunk people are generally just being irritating on nights out (the majority of course being great craic – genuinely, otherwise I wouldn’t be out with them), but I don’t think that alone would have caused me to start drinking.
*Spoiler* I’ll probably return to the non-drinker life again soon enough. That or I’ll just continue to barely drink, being the lightweight that I am, and will probably have more non-alcoholic nights out than ones where I drink, even if people don’t seem to get why I’d want to do that. At least if I quit, I’ll now finally get to say “I’ve been sober for X months/years”, which might be a fun challenge to keep track of. That and maybe people would react more positively to that than the old “yeah I never really drank” line.
And that concludes this episode of reasons to drink, according to Sarah.
(I’m sorry okay I’m terrible for attempting to make puns, or laughing at even the worst ones. I don’t think that even counts.)
(If you’re wondering why I avoided alcohol for so long, seeing as most people ask, or at least are probably a little curious about it, I’ll get to that another day, it would take far too long to explain in this post.)