Days of Swatties: Barkat Sikder (‘22)

Days of Swatties: this is a project that goes into the hearts of Swarthmore students by listening about their lives. Wholesome, sad, and all other kinds of stories are carried by Swatties. I choose to present as little personal information as possible, because I think the specific backgrounds of students are irrelevant to this series. It is a place for individual people who make up the narrative of Swarthmore as a whole. It is an archive, but also a window into Swarthmore today.

How’s the drinking culture at Swarthmore different from your own culture and country?

The drinking culture differs significantly in Bangladesh compared to the U.S., or Swarthmore specifically. Although founded on secular principles, Bangladesh is predominantly Muslim and so alcohol, although not illegal, is significantly frowned upon by the general population. As a result, no one drinks, at least not on the surface.

Alcohol is either found at institutions such as upscale hotels that cater to the upper class and foreign tourists, or at hole-in-the-wall type stores, often pharmacies. This is mostly because when products, such as medication, are imported from India, among other places, the proprietors also try to sneak in alcohol. People often get pulled over and their cars are searched by the police. When they find alcohol, they often have to bribe the police to get out of the predicament, which is such a strange scene because possession of alcohol over the age 18 is completely legal. However, despite alcohol consumption being legal, there is a huge stigma regarding alcohol.

As you’ve probably guessed at this point, Swarthmore is nothing like that. Despite the legal age of 21, everyone drinks. Everyone talks about it. It’s not a huge deal, as is the case in pretty much the whole country. It is illegal to drink while underage, but at least people don’t have to bribe police officers when they are of legal age. Also, it is important to mention how much responsibility the school takes in ensuring the students to drink responsibly and trying to make a safe environment for students with drugs in general.

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