This is a journal entry from 1998 through the eyes of a 16 year old small-town Michigan boy. Despite my naïveté, I did my best to record what I saw and experienced so others would know what it was like. Try to interpret anything you read here through that lens and realize that it may not completely match reality.
Drinking (Entry 1)
Drinking here is very different. Anyone can buy beer. It’s weird because there are vending machines where you can buy it, just like treats or pop. Drinking is more like pop than something “special”. It seems that they think at lunch”oh, a beer might be good, or coke?”
The appropriate age to drink seems to be around 12-13 to start and at 15-16 just drink w/ the adults. For example, we were at a club and my host sister wanted a drink (not a whole can) of beer, but her mom said no; but later on the way home my host mom offered her a cup of wine.
When someone gets a beer they offer everyone in the group a drink and if I say no, it’s no big deal. It’s just “ok you’re not thirsty”. If I say I don’t drink then they look at me funny for a second and then say ok. It’s no big deal and they don’t pressure me to drink.
Drinking at Carnival (Entry 2)
Brazilians know how to handle their beer? I have never seen so many drunks in my life. At Carnival everyone (almost) was drinking and drinking and…
All You Can Drink Night At the Club (Entry 3)
One night the disco had a special. Buy 1 beer for R$5.00 and trade your empty can for a new one, as many times as you want. So everyone gets plastered right away and then slows down. But what happens when you slow down? Your beer gets warm. And hey! If you can get a free beer with an empty can, why not dump your beer on the dance floor and…
There were 1/2 inch deep puddles everywhere
Not every 12-13 year old in Brazil is being given drinks on the side by their parents, but it happens a lot more than in the US. Not every 15-16 year old in Brazil gets plastered at parties and at the clubs, but the number drunk teenagers I hung out with back then only gets more disturbing the older I get. When I say drunk I’m not talking about just a slight buzz after a can, I really mean altered-state, crying on the floor drunk.
Part of the blessing and curse of being an exchange student is that the most outgoing people approach you first and invite you to join their circle of friends. It seems logical that there would be a correlation between being outgoing and doing social activities such as going to parties, clubs and bars as a group where drinking occurs.
I love the group of friends I made in Brazil, but at the same time I wish I would’ve had more friends who didn’t drink, or at least more friends who drank responsibly. It’s completely possible that if I had found a different groups of friends my perception would be that everyone in Brazil was a responsible drinker.
If you go to Brazil as a teetotaler like me or someone who loves getting really drunk, you will find plenty of people to be accepting of your stance on drinking.