Beer culture Norway V.S. America

By Vegard Bergset

American and Norwegian beer culture is very different but still similar. It’s similar in the sense of love for beer but different in almost every other sense. I’m gonna try to give an in-depth look at the two different approaches to drinking and beer culture. Even though my knowledge of American beer and drinking culture is limited because I’ve only been living here since August. That aside, I have gotten some help from my American cousins that also spent a semester studying in Norway. And I’m gonna compare the two different cultures as broadly and in-depth as possible.

First, let’s start with an obvious difference. The legal drinking age in America is 21, Norway, on the other hand, doesn’t have a legal drinking age. In theory, you are allowed to drink alcohol when you’re under the legal buying age, which is 18 for alcohol under 20% and 20, for everything under 60%. For someone not familiar with the Norwegian system, it might seem very weird not to have a legal drinking age, but the government has decided that it is the distributor of alcohol to minors that is the illegal actions. Therefore, even though you get caught drinking when you’re not of legal age to buy, you will in the worst case scenario get a free ride home by the police.

With this in mind, it is not difficult to understand why most Norwegians start drinking and partying in late middle school or early high school. In fact, most of the crazy-partying happens in high school. This might be because of the high school graduation party that lasts for a month straight, day and night. And that parents in Norway know that their kids are going to party and drink alcohol before they turn 18, and would rather see their kids sleeping drunk in their own beds than being too scared to go home and end up sleeping outside. For Americans, however, most people start drinking senior year of high school or freshman year of college. According to my cousin, this might change depending on the area you’re from. He and his friends, for instance, started drinking around the same time as I. But he says that the craziest parties happen in college, rather than high school.

Now, I have experienced both high school parties in Norway, and college parties here in America. And, it is a bit of the same story. It kind of seems like it is the point of getting as “fucked up” as possible without having to go to the hospital or jail. I asked myself what might be the reason for that, and figured, maybe it is because it’s the norm in Norway to move out from your parents right after high school, and not live in a dorm or a frat, but rather sharing an apartment in a city. This might force Norwegians to behave a bit more grown up when they party after high school. Because they know that no “adults” are looking after them if something happens. Also, maybe the reason Americans party the way they do in college might be because it is the first freedom they’ve experienced. Keep in mind, this is just my theory, I’m not sure.

Another interesting difference, is the perspective people have on alcohol. In America, it seems like alcohol, in general, is very stigmatized compared to the likes of other drugs such as weed. For example, alcohol is not really something you talk about with your teachers, if your not 21. During my first semester here, I’ve heard several times that teachers advice against drinking alcohol. In Norway, on the other hand, it is almost the complete opposite. Even before turning 18, it is not looked upon as tabu to talk with your teachers about alcohol. And, I have never heard teachers in Norway advising against drinking alcohol before someone is of legal age. Please, misunderstand me correctly, I’m not saying that teachers in elementary school and middle school are advertising alcohol to their students. In high school, my teachers would say something as simple as “drink responsibly”. Weed, on the other hand, is a completely different story. In Norway, it is looked upon the same level as crack. With other words, it’s highly stigmatized and something you would never discuss with people that are not pro-weed.

Now, over to one of the similarities between Norwegian and American beer culture. Both cultures seem to drink most domestic beer. Also, most men rather than women drink beer. In fact, I don’t know of one drinking culture in the world, where women drink more beer than men. I don’t know why that is, but I think it is an interesting phenomenon. Other than that, both cultures seem to look at European beer as the best in the world. Another similarity is the easily accessible craft beer. And, people that really like craft beer look the same all over the world. It almost seems like they’re part of the same craft beer cult. It is almost always men ranging on a specter from hipster to 40-year-old dad. Joking aside, the same kind of people are both found in Norway and America.

As probably is common knowledge, now with Trump in office, America is a country a lot of people around the world has opinions about, both good and bad. But it’s not only bad opinions about American politics that is a trend, but also opinions about bad beer. I have found some of these opinions about beer to be false during my introduction into American beer culture this past semester. One prejudgement I made, but now have left behind, was that ALL American beer is equivalent to water. Some American beer tastes like water, especially Course Light, but other than that, I was surprised to find easily accessible good beers here.

Differences In Social Media Use

Social media is a huge aspect of most people’s lives in college, and it certainly takes some hours out of my day. Especially when I do homework, I like to put in some social media brakes. But, social media has pros and cons, like most things in life. However, I find it interesting what other college students think about the different aspects of social media, and how they use it. There are several ways to look at social media, and how it affects everyday life. In this blog-post, you will get to know three different approaches to social media.

First out is Max, he is a 24-year-old exchange student from Germany. Before interviewing Max, I knew that he isn’t the most active social media user. I asked him straight up what he thought about social media. And, as a stereotypical German guy, he responded in a very short and concise way, “Good and bad.”. After explaining to him that I needed some more information in order to provide a more in-depth look about his thoughts on the matter, he took some time to think. Then he said, “I miss the time where I could bike over to a friends house and ask if he wanted to do something fun. I would rather go talk to people in real life instead of talking to a screen. When that is said, social media also provides a platform where I can communicate with my friends at home.
After the German guy comes Jesper, he’s 22 years old and from Sweden. Jesper is a transfer student here at SUNY Oswego. Before interviewing Jesper, I knew that he spend more time on social media platforms than Max. Both Jesper and Max use social media platforms to keep track of what their friends do at home. With that in mind, I asked him if he thought social media is important. “Yes and no. It’s easier to connect with people our age through social media because everyone is on it, but it also consumes too much time, and I feel we become more socially awkward in the real world.”.

I agree with both Max and Jesper. Especially when the nostalgia of old and better times kick in. Even though I think everyone feels that way, even my parents and grandparents have good nostalgic memories of old and better times. And they didn’t have social media until they were real adults. I don’t necessarily think the nostalgic memories is because we didn’t have social media growing up, but rather the memory of childish energy.
Today, 15 years after I had that childish energy, I spend a lot of time staring at my phone. I have realized it also takes time to adjust to the real world after a social media session. And, I’m sure other college students find it hard as well. Walking around campus, people rarely look at other people, they are afraid of eye-contact with people they don’t know. And probably 30% of everyone I see walking on campus is looking at their phone.
When I scroll through my Instagram, I see people using social media platforms to sell themselves in a professional way. Many of them are what you can categorize as social media personalities. But, do you need thousands of followers to be able to sell yourself in a professional way and make money from social media. With other words, is it possible for us regular people to make money from social media, and if yes how do you do it?

After thinking about that, I immediately called my friend Otto. This summer we had a deep conversation talking about life. He mentioned that he had gotten modeling jobs and DJ-jobs through his Instagram account. When I called him, we again talked about life and he told me that he had gotten more jobs through social media. And, that he had gotten a lot of good feedback on his half-professional Instagram stories. I asked him how much time he spends producing these stories, “It really depends on the production. If it’s for Instagram-story, I might use between 10 minutes to a couple of hours. However, the half-professional Instagram stories I post is something that I like putting down a lot of effort into. People’s attention span is so short, and that’s why I put a lot of work into very few seconds of content. As of now, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on the short-but-cool stories.
I later asked him about his thoughts about social media. “Personally, I use Instagram as a promotion page of myself. I’m a DJ, a photographer and a marketing student trying to make money and land gigs. A lot of people use their Instagram for pure fun, which is totally fine, and heavy gear upgrades won’t be necessary.

Jorekstad (Instagram-story) 

As you can see, Otto has an agenda in his use of Instagram. He is interested in media, and he’s a tech-nerd. This might be a weak excuse for why he’s using social media to promote himself. But, I really think he’s onto something interesting. The way people use, especially Instagram, has changed a lot since 2012 when it was purely for fun. It is important to take advantage of the opportunities it creates, something I think Otto does.

Vegard Bergset

Name: Vegard Jo Spada Bergset 

Year: Sophmore

Major: Broadcasting and Mass Communication

Hometown: Lillehammer

Vegard is a sophomore at SUNY Oswego. He just emigrated from Norway to pursue his lifelong dream of talking. His major is Broadcasting and Mass Communication.  Vegard hasn’t started his professional career and doesn’t have any professional merits, yet. In his free time, Vegard enjoys having a good time with his friends, interacting with interesting people, travel to exciting places, and watch sports.  His favorite sport, by far, is football (soccer) and his favorite teams are AS Roma and Arsenal aka The Gunners. In the future, Vegard would like to engage in stimulating conversations with interesting people, having fun, and somehow make money.