The first time I was invited to a pub in the UK, I thought I HAD TO drink alcohol!

I don’t really like alcoholic drinks so I rejected the invitation by saying, ‘I don’t drink!’ My friend then explained to me that it wasn’t necessary for me to order an alcoholic drink in a pub.

I was quite surprised to find out that I could actually order a cup of tea in a pub instead!

It appears that pubs and alcohol play a vital role in the British culture. When I first arrived in the UK, the large numbers of pubs around the university campus astonished me. I slowly came to learn about the pub culture through my peers and friends. On the one hand, I appreciate the laidback and casual atmosphere in the pubs. My postgraduate peers liked getting together in the pubs once in a while for a chat and a drink during my studies. It seems that the place has a magic power which people can easily build friendships and share their thoughts. That’s why I joined my peers to the pub.

On the other hand, I am not so keen on drinking. In fact, I still remember one awkward occasion when I was invited to one of the school welcome events together with other postgraduate fellows upon my arrival in the UK. We were offered an alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink. Most of the guests had alcoholic drinks except me, which made me feel a bit out of place. It got even worse while others were talking about their favourite drinks, I realised that not only was I not interested in drinking, but I also had very little knowledge about alcoholic drinks.

Drinking is a common element of most social events in the UK. I did make attempts to try to blend in by drinking a little bit. Eventually I gave up struggling with whether I should drink just to please others, because I believe that genuine friends would not want me to pretend to be someone I am not.

Now, I am perfectly happy with having a cup of tea in the pubs without feeling embarrassed, no matter how appropriate it seems to have a glass of wine!

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