Drinking

I have never been much of a drinker. I just don’t care for the taste of alcohol, especially beer. I also don’t like how alcohol affects me. When I have a drink (even just half a glass) my joints (knees and elbows mostly) start hurting/aching. I also don’t particularly like the “buzzed” or “drunk” feeling you get when you drink*. More specifically, I don’t like the fact that you can’t turn the buzzed-ness off when you get tired of it and thus have less control over the experience of drinking. Add to all of this, when I was 20, I had a few friends over for a party, the cops got called and I ended up in court with a $1 000 fine. Lesson learned; don’t drink alcohol.

Alcohol and drinking in Finland are a bit different than what they are in Oregon (at least my experiences with it). For example, in Finland, the drinking age is 18 for beers, ciders, long drinks and other softer, lower alcohol content beverages. But for all the harder stuff, such as vodka, wines, etc (I can’t even come up with names of other stuff off the top of my head) you have to be 21 to purchase and drink the stuff. In addition, hard alcohol can only be purchased at an Alko (liquor store), which is government owned.

From my experience, Finns drink A LOT!** It might just be that I wasn’t of drinking age for too long in the US and because I didn’t drink much, that I never really experienced bar life that much in the US, but really, Finns do drink tons. Most of what I’ve seen is that they drink mainly on the weekends. And not that Finns just drink, but they get totally shitfaced, fall-down-can’t-see-straight drunk. And because alcohol is expensive here and even more expensive in the bars, the drinking starts at home before heading out to the bar so that you have a buzz already by the time you arrive at the club. This is one way that I’ll never be a true Finn.

I know that in Oregon, a parent or legal guardian can give their minor or juvenile alcohol in a private residence. That is not the case in Finland. In Finland, it is illegal for parents to buy their underage kids alcohol and let them drink it. No, ifs ands or buts about it, that is the law.

This next item is not something I remember ever seeing or experiencing in Oregon (or any other state I’ve driven in). Here in Finland, the cops put up random breathalyzer check stop points. Quite often this happens around major holidays, such as Juhannus (midsummer), but at other times too. The cops will set up a spot along the road and stop every single person, taxi and bus drivers too, to blow into their breathalyzer. I’ve only had to do this 3 or so times since I’ve been here, but it was exciting each time. The first time it happened, I joked to the person in the car with me that the cops would just wave me on by because I was so excited to get to blow into the thing, that obviously I wasn’t drunk! I still had to blow.

That last thing that comes to mind and the whole reason for this post, is that here in Finland there can be open alcohol containers in the car while someone is driving! That means that everyone who is not driving can be drinking while the driver is driving. Again, I know that in Oregon (and most likely other states too) an open container can not be accessible to the driver or passengers while the car is moving. Although, I was always under the impression that if there was a barrier in the car so that the driver wasn’t able to access the alcohol, the people on the other side of the barrier would be allowed to drink, but maybe that is just my own fancy thought*** (and from watching too much TV). This ability to drink while the car is moving still shocks and awes me to this day.

So, yeah, there are quite a few differences in drinking and alcohol laws between Finland and the US Oregon. But the thing that doesn’t change no matter where I am is the fact that I just don’t care for alcohol and rarely drink it.

 

* I have only ever been really drunk (but didn’t puke) once in my life and that was the night of my fateful party. I have been tipsy and had a bit more than a drink or two in an evening, but never really drunk. I just know my limits and don’t want to go over them because I truly and dearly hate puking.

** I know this is generalizing the Finns as a whole, but really, Finns do know how to drink! Maybe not every single one of them (Mr Siili being an example of rarely drinking), but a lot of them drink like fish.

*** Ok, I wikipedia‘d this and I wasn’t so far off in my thoughts: Apply to all vehicle occupants except for passengers of vehicles designed, maintained or used primarily for the transportation of people for compensation (such as buses, taxi cabs, and limousines) or the living quarters of motor homes

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