Is it a coincidence that National Beer Day falls on “Thirsty Thursday?” Is it also a coincidence that it’s my roommate’s birthday today, and she invited 130 people over to our house tonight to celebrate?
I think not.
Beer happens to not only be a great addition to any cause for celebration, but it happens to fall into the food/drink category that I believe is imperative to take part in when venturing to a new country. While I was studying abroad, my roommates and I made it a point to order different meals so we could all steal bites off each other’s plates. The more food and drinks we experienced, the more we appreciated the country we were exploring.
In honor of National Beer Day, I comprised a list of 10 moments when it is absolutely necessary to drink beer while studying abroad. You’ll expand the horizons of your tastebuds while also learning about the culture, a win-win situation in my book.
1. When you just meet the roommates you’ll be living with for the next 4 months
The easiest way to get to know one another in a country where you don’t speak the language is to go for drinks. It’ll settle those first-meeting jitters in no time.
2. When you find out there’s an entire museum dedicated to beer
Surprisingly, the Czech Republic takes the top spot when it comes to total beer consumption. Unsurprisingly, beer quickly became a staple in our diets (and around our waistlines).
3. When you see “brewery tour” listed as a school field trip
Yep. My roommates and I signed up for a brewery tour that also included food and a beer tasting. Let me add that the tasting sizes in Prague aren’t the little measly ones you get when you attend a tasting in the states. I’m talking about a tasting that is the equivalent of a regular serving of beer that you would order at the bar. Na zdraví (cheers).
4. When it’s your roommate’s birthday and you find a pub that races against other pubs in Europe
We were looking for something fun to do to celebrate my roommate’s 21st and discovered a pub conveniently called The Pub. This magical place lets you race against other pubs of the same name scattered across Europe. An electronic scoreboard keeps track of how much your table drinks at your specific pub and how much the entire pub drinks compared to others in different European cities.
The Pub even lets you pour your own beer because there’s a tap built into each table. Talk about a fun birthday celebration.
5. When you hear that the Höfbrauhaus is the place to be when you’re in Munich
And what is the Höfbrauhaus known for? Its giant beer steins and beer, of course. The Höfbrauhaus is one of Munich, Germany’s oldest breweries, and it has also hosted Oktoberfest. While I was there, I got a Hofbräu Original beer served in one of the steins. I kid you not when I say I struggled to lift it.
6. When you finish a hike to see an unforgettable view of the Austrian Alps
During my spring break, my grandmother and aunt flew over to travel with me to three different cities, one of which was Salzburg, Austria. I had read reviews of restaurant M32 that boasted a great overlooking view of Salzburg and the Austrian side of the Alps. We discovered after this grueling hike (that my champion of a grandmother also completed) that there was an elevator that would have taken us to the top of the Mönchsberg, one of the five mountains in Salzburg.
To relax and refresh after the climb, we ordered a much-needed beer while we took in the beautiful view.
7. When you learn that Amsterdam is the home of the first Heineken brewery
After you’re done walking along Amsterdam’s canals and strolling past the coffeeshops that are known for selling something other than coffee (cough, weed, cough), take part in the Heineken Experience to discover how the popular beer is made, to see its early advertising efforts, and to receive free tastings with your purchase of a tour ticket. It’s one of the best interactive tours I’ve been on. It’s catered to those of us who don’t have a refined taste for beer, and you get what you pay for when it comes to the price of admission.
8. When you’re on a boat in Croatia and need to wash down their version of “seafood”
During one of my last weekends abroad, my roommate and I headed to Split, Croatia with Bus2Alps, a company that arranges trips and excursions for students studying abroad. One of the excursions offered at an additional cost was an island boat tour that would take us around to other nearby islands and would provide us with a lunch option of our choice.
I’m a fan of seafood and saw that this was on our list of meals to choose from. I should have known that my understanding of seafood and the Croats’ understanding of seafood are two different things.
This is what I got.
Thankfully, the boat made a pit stop at one of the islands before they served us lunch, and we were able to stock up on beer and other necessities to last us for the entire 7-hour trip. I’m still scarred by the fact that I had to pick the fish bones out of my teeth but thanked the gods that I had something refreshing to wash it down with.
9. When you miss your bus in Berlin and need something to ease your stress
Yet another weekend of traveling meant expecting the unexpected. After a fun yet exhausting time spent in Berlin, my roommate and I were all set to hop on a bus back to Prague. Little did we know that we would underestimate just how long it would take us to get back to our hostel to collect our belongings and hail an Uber to the bus station.
We missed our bus by 5 minutes. 5 MINUTES.
So, what do we do? We book another bus that left a few hours later and head to the closest restaurant.
“Yes, one giant pitcher of beer please.”
With food and drinks in our system, we finally accepted the fact that missing our bus wasn’t the end of the world after all.
To celebrate National Beer Day tonight, I’ll be playing hostess to 130 people with Blue Moon’s new Belgian-style Pilsner in hand.
I hope you’ll find some way to enjoy the occasion as well.