Letters from the Dorm: Getting drunk doesn't automatically make you "cool"

By Tacye Hong, 19, University of Toronto
By Tacye Hong, 19, University of Toronto |

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Tacye hits bullseye: you aren't "cool" just because you drink.

Turning 18 is definitely one of the most important milestones for a lot of people in Hong Kong.

A lot of these young adults celebrate their big day by going to bars and clubs. Others buy lottery tickets or watch R-rated movies. A lot of this is just the excitement of being able to do it legally. I was in Canada when I turned 18. That meant I wasn’t surrounded by all my friends, and no one tried to drag me to do all these “newly legal” activities.

Saying no to drinks in Hong Kong

When I got back to Hong Kong for summer, all I did to celebrate was to change my HKID card and register as a voter. But I didn’t feel I missed out. I was invited to go for drinks after work during my internship but I always said no to their invitations.

Other interns often tried to persuade me to join them. They said we should practise for when we “have” to go for drinks after work when we join the real world. But I don’t want to drink. And I don’t think you should have to pretend that you like drinking just to seem cooler or to fit in.

There is nothing wrong with just having a fun day out with friends.
Photo: Tacye Hong

Turning 19 in Canada

I just turned 19 recently. In Ontario, Canada, this is actually the legal drinking age. My friends here did jokingly suggest taking me out for a drink. But they quickly dropped the idea when they realised I wasn’t interested in drinking.

Doing something different

Instead, we settled for archery tag. My friends and I have busy schedules, and live quite far apart, so it is always hard to plan fun outings.

None of us had played archery tag before. That made the experience even more fun. I know my friends as smart, hard-working students. What I didn’t know is that they are pretty competitive, too.

This is a much better birthday celebration than going out for drinks. To me, embracing my inner child with my friends is a much valuable experience. And isn’t it much cooler to find out that your friends are sporty, or competitive, instead of how much they can drink?