Freshman year is definitely a time for exploration in many aspects: from being independent to how to spend your free time to what you should be studying. But there is one distinct freedom that is on a lot of students minds constantly which is going out and partying. Personally, during my first semester at Penn State, I felt like I had to experience what “going out” was all about. Although I never felt pressured, I felt as though it was necessary to transition into college.
The first time I went out, I went to a frat and it was seriously petrifying for me. There were preppy frat guys everywhere shotgunning their beers, people playing drinking games, girls dressed minimally and guys drunkenly telling me I was the prettiest girl they have ever seen and attempting to make advances. The whole situation was just uncomfortable for me and certainly wasn’t my scene in the least. Don’t get me wrong, even though the whole frat party scene isn’t for me, I’m not shaming those who love frat parties. In the fall I made the stupid mistake of wearing Birkenstocks to a frat house and a guy spilled a good portion of his beer can on my shoes. I think that is a good representation of how close everyone is and how tight the space is that everyone is in. No wonder frats are dangerous. A small space + loud music + alcohol = potential disasters.
In addition to going out to a few frat parties, I have gone to socials that are held in apartments. The drink of choice at socials is sort of like an inside joke. The person hosting says there will be “milk and cookies” which actually means jungle juice, a drink consisting of whatever juices, sodas and alcohol they have on hand. I don’t think socials are as bad because you usually know almost everyone there since socials are usually held for a particular club or with a group of friends. Getting to know someone one-on-one is a more common occurrence at socials. I have seen some of my best friends drunk off of their a** and it was a beautiful bonding moment because they have told me information that I would have never known if they were sober, so being “sober mom” definitely has its perks.
Since I have made the decision not to drink I have been named “sober mom” by all of my friends when we go out together. I am not in any way ashamed of my decision of not drinking. I am the type of person who will bring a water bottle or Gatorade to a party instead of drinking the alcohol. After seeing others completely trashed and crawling back to their dorms at three in the morning, I knew I didn’t want to be a part of that culture. Moral of the story: do what you feel is right for you when it comes to going out and don’t feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do at a party, whether that is drink, do drugs/smoke or do anything sexual. Those are all dangers that come with going out, so make sure you watch your back.
Once you are 21, going out becomes a more common occurrence because you’ll be of age to drink and therefore go to the bars more often. I am 99% certain that will not be the case with me once I turn 21, and I am proud of that. I want my studies to come first and I don’t want to get trashed each weekend. For those of you who can go out, party, drink and still have time to put forth a lot of effort into studying and get great grades, I commend you. But that doesn’t work for me. And the worst part is I don’t even drink and when I go out even if it’s just on a Friday night, I still feel like I’m going to be bogged down with work that I could have gotten a jump start on. So honestly, I don’t know how some people still manage to get everything done when drinking is added into the equation. Just learn to make smart choices.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 to 24 die a year because of alcohol related deaths alone, but that does not include sexual assault or drunk driving on college campuses. Last year there were 696,000 reported cases of assault of students aged 18-24 due to another student being under the influence and there were 97,000 cases of attempted rape or date rape at colleges. About 25% of all college students have admitted to driving drunk within the last month.
Now with those consequences in mind, I have decided to limit going out to once or twice a semester. I just think that personally, I would rather save time for studying as opposed to partying every night of the week. Remember, be smart, be safe and know the consequences that can arise with going out.
Lead Image Credit: Jessica Sallurday