Foto: Yeonwoo Baik

In celebration of julebord season

I guess a lot of people are busy these days with Christmas parties in this country, with its huge party culture and, of course, drinking culture. From this point on, you will see a lot of ‘boring’ words here. You know; where Norwegian drinking culture is now, what kind of harm alcohol can do, and how to minimize the harm during this alcoholic season. If you do not like those kinds of articles which sound pretty much like an old man’s grumbling, you are free to og.

Some truth about the alcohol culture

Alcohol is surely a good tool to smooth the atmosphere at a party. People loosen up and open themselves up, and awkward hesitation quickly dissolves into happy-go-lucky laughter. But if you get a bit careless, tip over and cross the line, the laughter will turn into tomorrow morning’s nightmare. Have you ever woken up in the morning after the party, scanned through all the things you have said and done the night before, and groaned «No…»? No? Congratulations! You are lucky. Unless it’s just because you totally blacked out so that there is nothing left in your consciousness to groan over.

According to a survey conducted over 1700 students from the University of Oslo in 2007, one third of students said that they had experienced blackouts. Do you know that it is recommended to go to a counselor if you have blacked out more than twice in the last six months? The same article goes on to say that one fourth of the students answered that they had had unprotected sex after drinking, one tenth had been exposed to injury or accidents, five percent had gotten into fights. A survey conducted in 2010 tells that 43 percent of students in Norway have alcohol-related behavioral patterns which carry high or serious levels of risk. 17 percent of students in that group have a drinking pattern, which entails serious levels of risk if the patterns persist. I do not want to ruin the joy of partying, but these studies show that alcohol is not just ‘happy-go-lucky’.

According to one survey, one third of Norwegians think that there is too much drinking at Christmas parties. One sixth of respondents of another survey said that they have said or done something at Christmas parties that they later regretted. Christmas parties are for having fun and making good memories, not for waking up in torment the next morning. And there are a lot more unpleasant possibilities than waking up in torment or getting a bit embarrassed at the next encounters with your friends who were present at the parties.

How can we avoid all these side effects of alcohol?

I cannot say anything else than «Classics are the best.» It is the ‘basic of basics’ to fill your stomach with good food before you start drinking, so that you do not drink out of hunger, and prevent the alcohol from absorbing into your body too quickly. I know that many people are afraid of the calories of alcoholic beverages and then choose not to eat food instead. Please, do not. Drinking water in between also helps because it keeps your body hydrated, which will lessen the dehydrating effect of alcohol. Did you know that dehydration is one of the big causes that make a bad hangover?

It is good to know your limit. If you have experienced a serious drop in your ability to process new information or make proper judgments after drinking four cans of beer, remember the figure and apply the knowledge next time you drink. It is not strictly forbidden to drink a bit more than that, if you are feeling really healthy that day. But always observe the changes in your body and brain while you are drinking so that you know when you are near the danger line.

It is not recommended to drink too much at the pre-party. It will not make you spend less money outside, since you drink alcohol to enjoy the atmosphere of the party rather than to just loosen up a bit or to simply try and taste alcoholic beverages, you are likely to spend just as much money in the elated atmosphere of the party, ending up with higher blood-alcohol concentration, heavier hangover and lighter wallet.

Last but not least, it is so helpful to remember that there is life left after the party. You have the next day’s tasks such as work or someone else’s birthday party that you have to attend, looking fresh. Also, you have to see the faces of your friends after you have sobered up. While you are drinking, make sure that you are acting merrily only to the extent where you are not saying or doing something that has the potential to embarrass you forever, something that will make you want to retreat under your duvet and never go back to the university. People say that alcohol works well as an icebreaker, but sometimes it can return with far thicker and heavier ice.

Likevel, ha et fint julebord!


Text and illustration: Yeonwoo Baik