This past weekend I attended a wine tour throughout Hunter Valley in Sydney. On this excursion, our tour guide, acknowledging that we were Americans, shared some interesting insights with me that I would like to share with all of you. Here's some food for thought:

From the age of 18, you can do everything a 21-year-old can do, except drink legally in the US. At 18 you are legally an adult. You can get married, serve in the military and be tried in court. Although, apparently at 18 you are incapable of acting like an adult when it comes to alcohol. This causes a lack of respect for the law, along with the problem of binge drinking. By the time 21 rolls around, you have probably already been drinking for years and feel as though you don't need to be taught how to drink. The real problem isn't necessarily the drinking age, it's the mindset that comes with being an adult for three full years without the full rights.

Alcohol has always been a concern for many countries while being an afterthought for others. Most everywhere else in the world does it right when it comes to the drinking age, and the US should follow suit. The reason it was changed in the first place was to reduce the number of alcohol-related fatalities. This has been proven to be unsuccessful. In 2002, twice as many 21 year-olds died in alcohol-related auto accidents as 18 year-olds. Such a staggering statistic speaks volumes: a policy that claims to be saving thousands of each year may simply be re-distributing deaths over the life cycle to the point at which it becomes legal to drink alcohol—age 21. So what now? Should the US raise the drinking age another couple of years now that 21 year-olds are also unable to handle themselves as adults when it comes to alcohol? No.

If the legal drinking age in the US was lowered, it would cause people to learn how to be responsible drinkers. After chatting with locals, who were astonished by the fact that we could drink here but not in our own country, I have come to the conclusion that the U.S. is wrong. This lower drinking age allows for all the "crazy" drinking to take place while in university. This ensures that by the time you graduate, you have your stuff together and that healthy and ideal balance between work and play that Australians have seemed to master so well.