How a rise in responsible drinking culture is helping students settle in London

3 Mins read

International students from across the world tell Artefact how the British drinking culture became part of their new lives.

It’s no news that the British love to drink, so much so, that they often take pride in drinking large amounts of alcohol.

“Before I came to London, I knew what to expect in terms of the drinking culture,” said 24-year-old Dominique Valdes, a fine arts student from Mexico. “I had mentally prepared myself for a big cultural shock,” she said.

However, factors such as the cost of living crisis, health consciousness and personal safety have significantly decreased peer pressure to binge drink and cultivated habits of responsible drinking.

This decrease in extreme forms of drinking amongst Gen Z in Britain has helped international students feel more comfortable while going out, without facing a drastic cultural shock.

Meeting first-year students from different cultures, responsible drinking has in hindsight helped international students make friends in an unfamiliar country.

“If it was not for that one night in Spoons during the initial weeks of coming to the UK, I wouldn’t have been this close to my flatmates,” said Kevan Jacob, a 25-year-old animation student from India.

Going out with new classmates helps to improve students’ social lives [Pexels: Tembela Bohle]

“Drinking to socialise helped me make very good friends during my first week in London. I went for drinks with another set of people after a tour of Elephant and Castle and made tons of new friends,” he said.   

Mayar Mahfood, a 19-year-old student from Libya says that she doesn’t feel pressured while ordering non-alcoholic beverages during her night outs with friends, “I don’t drink but I do go out often. I just order a diet coke or some soft drink and have a good time with my friends.”

Getting drunk and waking up to blurry wild nights is a part of the university experience, especially in a city like London but an increase in health consciousness and economics of the world seem to have made Gen Z responsible drinkers.

This shift in drinking habits is making more room for inclusivity amongst students from different cultures and communities and helping them settle down faster in London.

While talking about the British drinking culture, what is often neglected is the fact that it helps students from different cultures to mix in with home students.

“Chinese people usually hang out with their community. Going out for a drink with local students helped me make friends with them which is otherwise quite tough,” said Anna Soug, an 18-year-old film practice student from China. “Sometimes in China, people force you to have a drink far more than they do in the UK. I feel, there is more peer pressure existent in China while people here respect you and your decision a great deal,” she said.

Redditors from Asia have openly shared their experiences regarding lack of privacy and disrespect for their personal boundaries in Asian homes. Talking about respecting personal boundaries, Dominique said that while someone did offer her to go out for a drink in the middle of the week, she declined and did not feel pressurised to consume alcohol against her will. 

Apart from creating friendships, Kevan networked with a bunch of people at the bar in his university and even got a part-time job after talking to someone he met over a drink. Paid work helps students pay for their social lives, but Kevan admits that “drinking in London is quite expensive, so I don’t get extremely drunk.”

While the exorbitant cost of living plays an important factor for Dominique too, as a workaround, she often pre-drinks with her friends to party on a budget. “Though money is a major factor, I am also alone here, with no family support. I need to take the bus or tube back to my accommodation, so I do not go overboard while drinking,” she said.

Featured image by Will Stewart via Unsplash.

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