Random Observation/Comment #165: Drinking in public is illegal in New York. It’s so illegal that if you’re standing in the street with a suspicious paper bag, a police officer could rightfully write you an $80 summons/ticket for public consumption of alcohol. This does not exist in Europe (most probably because Europe rocks). I remember the first time taking that open bottle outside and tasting the beer on the concrete sidewalk. It was everything I wanted it to be. To make the moment even better, a group of police officers walked passed. My initial reaction of hiding the beer (or running away) was quickly replaced with a proud and valiant flaunt of my “tilt.” The 45 degrees upward tilt of the bottle does nothing to the taste, but it does look pretty badass. I smiled at the officers and tipped my hat slightly with the beer. They gave me an awkward smile which paralleled the raised-eyebrow expression, but it was the only thing they could do. Although this idea of public drinking was short-lived in its legen(-wait for it-)dary freedom, I was happy for those precious moments. As for my current opinion of public drinking – I’m over it. It was cool, now it’s normal. I don’t feel the urge to purposefully abuse this privilege, and I still finish beers before leaving the bar or drink it in the appropriate environment. Mweh – go figure.
It wouldn’t have been a touristy visit of Hamburg without visiting the nightlife in Reeperbahn. Reeperbahn is the Red Light District of Hamburg, which is covered in sex shops, brothels, clubs, and bars. It felt like two Avenues of St Mark’s Place after a sprinkle of shady side alleys. I never actually went into the pure brothel area where no women or people under 18 are allowed, but I heard from a friend that it’s similar to Amsterdam. I heard this area has the display cases taking window real estate in most of the buildings. I also heard that it was about 30 EUR for 30 minutes and they don’t accept plastic. A friend told me this in great detail – we mutually kept the conversation flowing in a question and answer segments about prostitutes and prostitute-affiliated random stories. Even though I never walked into the heart of the beast (so to speak), I did find it much less uncomfortable for the male to walk with a girl holding hands. Any single guy becomes a massive heat source for these homing missiles. If you let you look unprotected, they’ll blow you (up – hah).
The most memorable night in Hamburg was also the least memorable for the majority of those involved. It began with some Canadians and some orange juice, and ended with messy subway seats and quarantined Diesels. The details are still a blur, so amongst new friends, we’ll take all the real events in that story and replace them with more cheerful ones. However, the one thing that has maintained fairly consistent was my nickname, appropriately called “New York.” In fact, “Hey, New York!” became the new way of getting my attention – to which I would respond, “Hey, I’m waulkin’ hea’.” Stereotypes are a riot (in a humorous and non-offensive way). I didn’t pass up the chance to poke fun with aye’s and aii’s, so I figured anything was fair game.
This drunken night made me realize that the new generation truly celebrates the diversity of culture. I think most study abroad students welcome meeting new people, and pass their judgment on an individual basis rather than origins. To the educated, it seems the subject of religion is becoming hazier and the boundaries of stereotypes are slowly fading. If stereotypes are discussed, it is either blatantly ignorant as to infer some type of humor, or delicately put to clarify misconceptions. After meeting people with heritage from all around the world, I’ve become more enlightened to different customs. Although religion is rarely discussed, we share observations about social differences and openly accept new perspectives on approaching problems.
Languages pose some issues with the natural formation of clicks and groups, but I’ve found it to be more interesting hearing the different tones and pronunciations for each native tongue. Although I have no idea how to speak Hungarian, Turkish, Finnish, or Sweedish, I begin forming sound patterns in order to distinguish at least the type of language without associating it with the people. Speaking languages fluently cause slurs and impossible speeds for learning specific words, but repeats in sentence structure and emphasis between nouns and verbs opens my eyes to a strange array of combinations. The sounds swirl in my brain trying to form links from word to word. The key is to pay attention and try not to let the sounds be ignored by your brain as noise. It didn’t say it was easy or that it wouldn’t make your brain melt and ooze out of your ear canal, but it does keep those neurons firing.
To expand my background about each country, I asked how to say “Cheers” and “druuuunnnkkk” to make sure I can communicate as a social drinker. To put it more simply, alcohol builds bridges when we all share the common interest of enjoying the company of others. Under the socially-accepted unwritten laws of drinking, we form a new bond; laughing at nothing and everything at the same time, carrying new friends with a helpful shoulder, and giving a helping hand with well-prepared plastic bag. At the end of the night, no matter where you’re from, we’re all engrained with the same party-genes and desires to let loose, relieve stress, and enjoy life. Rep NYC.
~See Lemons Make New Friends