It is April, which means that Reinout and Laura* are allowed to drink again. For the entire month of March, they both said no to wine, beer, cocktails, rum and cokes, and everything in between.
‘I’m proud and especially happy that I managed it’, says Reinout. But if he is honest, the past two weeks were hard on him sometimes. ‘Especially when the weather was so nice. I couldn’t go out and have a beer at an outdoor café.’ During the last week, he says it felt as though he was doing it more for the Universiteitskrant than for himself. Yet he regrets nothing. ‘The people around me say that I’ve lost weight, and I do feel fitter.’
Laura found staying away from alcohol to be less of a struggle. The article in the UK two weeks ago was a good boost and a lot of people responded to it. Moreover, she was able to use it as an explanation when people criticised her for not drinking. She did find it was important to take it easy. ‘When you’re not drinking, you get up on time every day. It’s true that I got more done in a day, but you have to be careful not to overdo it.’
Just because it was easy does not mean it was fun. Laura: ‘I really thought I would have more energy. But that sadly wasn’t the case.’ She also wanted to lose weight, a goal she did not achieve. And going out also became less fun. ‘Drunk people are a lot more annoying than I thought.’
Finding a suitable alcohol-free drink was difficult for the two students. ‘It’s not the lack of alcohol, really. But you usually end up with a soda, which is just full of sugar’, Laura says. Reinout had the same experience. And drinking water all day is just boring, he says.
Reinout: ‘A month is a long time, and at a certain point it just becomes a matter of principle. You don’t want to be that lame guy that couldn’t even last a month.’ Laura adds: ‘It’s a deal we made with ourselves. I didn’t want to disappoint myself.’
Fortunately, the experiment also had a positive side. Reinout would recommend trying it out to anyone, just to find out how they react and what their personal stumbling blocks are. Laura has learned how easy it really is to say ‘no’ whenever someone offers her a drink. ‘I always thought people would react really negatively, but it was fine.’
All in all, the experience has been a bit mixed. Neither of the students are sure if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. For now, they are not overly eager to repeat the experiment. ‘Maybe I’ll try again in a few years after I graduate’, Laura says.
* At the request of the interviewees, Reinout and Laura’s surnames have been left out. Their full names are known to the editorial staff.