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Binge drinking not common at colleges outside the United States.

U-Wire-Sitting around dorm rooms gulping liquor, playing drinking games and attending parties where the sole objective is to get wasted is a stereotype of U.S. college students.

But for many international students at Illinois' Northwestern University who are used to social drinking, such excessive abuse of alcohol seems not only immature but ridiculous.

"Drinking can be enjoyable, but college students in America go too far with it" said Iva Djuric, a speech sophomore from Belgrade. "I don't think that they know how to enjoy drinking. For them, the only point is to get wasted. Their friends make puppets out of them and throw them into the streets naked. It's disgusting."

U.S. drinking laws are contradictory because they actually promote this behavior, Djuric said.

"Instead of preventing kids from drinking, they give them a sense that by drinking they're doing something illegal," he said. "In Europe, drinking is absolutely normal. There is no need to show off and talk about it later to your friends. There is no pressure, no feeling that you are doing something wrong or illegal."

Even Northwestern University sophomore Noushad Kashem, who lived in Bangladesh and Qatar where drinking is extremely taboo, found binge drinking to be pointless.

"It doesn't give you anything," Kashem said. "You are pursuing momentary pleasures."

Thor Gudmundsson, a McCormick sophomore from Sweden, said he wasn't surprised by all the binge drinking he saw when he first came to Northwestern University. But he added that he was not aware of the existence of drinking games such as caps, where people toss beer bottle caps across a room into a cup to make their friends drink.

"I think such games are quite silly because the only point is to get drunk," Gudmundsson said. "People here drink to get drunk, but in Europe they drink because they like it."

The drinking age in all of Scandinavia is 18, but it is illegal to purchase liquor in a liquor store for those under 20, so many teenagers frequent pubs.

The drinking age in the United States should be lowered to 18, Gudmundsson said, because drinking is not so serious as other privileges, like driving a car at 16 and voting and owning a gun at 18.

Djuric said that when Americans leave to go to college, they tend to lose all self-control when they are no longer under the protection of their parents. "They don't know their limits," Djuric said. "They just drink until they pass out."

Weinberg sophomore Ian Ludwig agreed, having spent 15 years before college in Taiwan, where the legal drinking age is 18. Although Ludwig said he has not seen many occurrences of binge drinking at Northwestern University, he does hear about them occasionally.

"Students should know their limits, decide beforehand how much they will drink, and stick to that," Ludwig said.

Lowering the drinking age to 18 would not have many adverse consequences, Ludwig said.

"If it was built into society, I don't think that binge drinking would happen as much," Ludwig said. "It might lessen problems because people would encounter alcohol sooner. College students would be less influenced by the sudden introduction of it into their lives." -By Nicole Drummer, Daily Northwestern, Northwestern U.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 10, 2001
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