Picture this: you are a young adult from Eastern Europe. You’ve just come home from the local bar and some club. You’re not that drunk and you remember (almost) everything. The night had started with drinks around 9pm. You and your friends were at a bar where they don’t ask for ID. You had a beer or two, along with some nice chats. You left and headed to the club, had some shots, danced all night.
“Wait, wait, so no pre-drinks at your friends’ place? No circling before going to the club?”
I needed to pause during pre-drinks in order to just enjoy the company of my friends
As peculiar as it might seem, in some parts of the world, ‘pre-drinking’ is not a popular habit among young people. When I first came to university, I couldn’t understand why students met up before going out. Of course, after seeing the prices for alcohol in regular pubs and clubs, it all made sense. I became grateful to whoever created the idea of spending less on alcohol by pre-drinking.
However, during first year, I often felt that I needed to pause during pre-drinks in order to just enjoy the company of my friends. As many used to arrive late, we became more concerned with how many drinks we could quickly down before going out than actually socialising. Nonetheless, I only felt this way because I had just arrived from an environment where you take your time when drinking, usually over a chat as one would do in typical British pub culture. As time passed, I began to find it difficult to adjust back to drinking slowly whenever I was home. I would finish my drink way before my friends, and constantly feel a need to rush out and head to the club before the queue-jump ticket expires.
whenever I had to drink as part of a forfeit, I just pretended to
Similar to the lack of predrinking, you would not expect to see people taking part in circling in the rest of Europe. With risk of receiving threat messages from friends who enjoy circle, I must admit, I do not to this day understand the appeal behind binge-drinking. If there is anyone out there who enjoys being yelled at to “Down a pint, fresher!”, let me know. I hope to at least understand this more before graduating.
Referring to my first ever experience of circle as confusing would be an understatement. I couldn’t do pint-offs, and whenever I had to drink as part of a forfeit, I just pretended to. While I have enjoyed less brutal drinking games in the past, I must say, I find circling itself pretty exhausting. You have to pay attention to the games, remember names and make sure to drink just the right amount. I’m usually already tired by the time we get to the club. This would never happen back home – as you enter the club, the night is just getting started.
At the end of the day, I wouldn’t say the differences are necessarily cultural. I partly blame the club and bus schedules for forcing us to adapt to certain timings. Where I am from, young adults party until 5am. At Warwick, you see students getting kicked out of the Copper Rooms just after midnight or hurrying to catch the Uniexpress back to campus. As nights outs generally feel quite rushed, you never really know when the best or most strategic time to start drinking is. If you ever plan to travel around Europe, to perhaps even visit international friends from university, just remember, nobody will be playing Slaps or chanting “I’ve never seen a foreigner down a pint”.