As a nation we are renowned abroad for our outlandish, appalling and disturbing behaviour when under the influence of alcohol – especially, but not limited to, the under 30s! Many may argue that it’s a good thing, we’re young and you only live once so grab life with both hands and get tied to that electric chair while someone pours straight vodka down your throat. Others, the more reserved brits among us, many think it’s atrocious and why drink so much when it’s only going to lead to a blank memory, vomit or someone lying next to you in your bed who you don’t recognise (or all of the above).
You don’t have to have been abroad to know what ‘we brits’ get upto. Television programnes such as ‘sun, sex and suspicious parents’ and ‘what happens in Kavos’ give the British public a wonderfully accurate portrayal of what, in majority, 18 year old brits get upto when thrown onto a ‘strip’ where there are plenty of other 18 year old brits and lots and lots of cheap alcohol. The after effects are…well, in my opinion, hilarious to watch. For other viewers and foreigners, however, disturbing may be a more appropriate word. After a recent holiday in Tenerife, some of us (all over 21) experienced a ‘strip’ for the first time. I’d like to say we were appalled by the behaviour of others on the strip and that we felt old and out of place, but in reality, as true brits abroad, we embraced the free shots, the cheap pitchers, danced in high vis jackets and some of us even finished the night off by throwing up everything they had consumed that evening. The next morning we were not appalled by our behaviour, but simply disappointed that we no longer can deal with these hangovers like 18 year olds anymore.
However, these places: Kos, Magaluf, Ibiza, Tenerife; their strips are all primarily british people, not many locals. It’s when the brits mix with the locals that our reputation becomes alarmingly bad – cue year abroads.
Many language students on their year abroads experience the nightlife in their local town and other places across europe, were also sampled. I only heard of a few stories of people getting thrown out of a few places, but the looks people received for their drinking habits, that in a british university enviroment would be classed as normal, were unbelievable. Here are a few trialled and tested british drinking habits which are less acceptable on the continent:
1. Chanting in quiet pubs. You may be a huge Man City supporter but chanting ‘ohhh Ballotelli, he’s a striker, he’s good at darts…’, in 2012 whilst banging on tables, breaking shot glasses and lifting chairs above your head is ‘frowned upon’.
2. Taking pens out on nights out with you…and drawing on the locals. You may want to decorate your friends with pictures and/or insults but going round a civilised bar on your 21st birthday drawing your new name and age on everyone is less than appropriate.
3. Kneeling on the floor of a club, while a group of your students chant your name while you down your drink and two shots. Not frowned upon by the children, but the teachers that next Monday morning…
4. General other things such as: going to the toilet in public parks, drinking cheap champagne from the bottle whilst walking into town…then disguarding it at the side of the road, having any guys/girls up against walls in clubs, being sick from alcohol…on the pavement, any form of stripping or nakedness in clubs or streets and generally shouting obscenities.
Now many a student would say the above is a definition of a ‘good night’, Germans would not agree. This is not to say they don’t know how to party because that is definitely not the case. When I went out with my housemates I rarely got in before 6am, I had danced the night away and always had a brilliant night. Sounds more civilised? Well in general it was, but that was not a bad thing; I always knew what I’d done, I’d had a few drinks so my German was better than normal and I didn’t embarrass myself. But being from England I was, on some level, expected to be more ‘outlandish’ in my behaviour when drunk. I was often offered shots because I was the brit and no-one was ever surprised when the other brits from the surrounding area came to our parties and, let’s say, took things one step further. My housemates were never appalled but also never surprised – our reputation precedes us even in the smallest towns in north Germany near Denmark.
They were students on our years abroad and I can almost guarantee others did much worse, but it goes a long way to explain why the phrase ‘brits abroad’ is now so commonly used to describe drunk brits who go around acting like they are still at university, or worse, like they are still in Britain! Is this appropriate behaviour – probably not, but will it continue? As long as it is appropriate in Britain, Brits will continue to think it is acceptable abroad. Let the drinking commence…?