College and alcohol go together like peanut butter and jelly. Like salt and pepper. Like spring break and, uh, more alcohol.
That’s what most people think of college, right? Party the night away, party the weekends away. Every article I see about college in America, mine in particular, tells the same story the same way (hint: it starts with ‘college alcohol’).
I’m a senior at college. My little brother will be a freshman this fall. Suddenly I’m very invested in the underage-consumption-of-alcohol story. I’ve seen the trouble these kids can get into, the hundreds of (beer-soaked) pitfalls littered up and down Main Street.
I want to change that story around a little bit.
College and alcohol go together like a bowl of cereal and elbows. Sure they can both go on the table, but they really don’t have anything to do with each other. They just sort of exist next to each other.
And guess what? You can be sober in college. Really.
I’m not a drinker. Honestly, I hate drinking. That’s not to say I’ve never had a drink in my life (hey, I’m 21), but I just don’t see the appeal. I like Saturdays, and I like to remember them later in life. I don’t go bar hopping on the weekends, and I’ve never even seen a fake ID.
“But Jessica,” you say, “you’re a college student! A senior! Do you even have a social life?” First of all, that’s a bit hurtful. Second of all, parents, students, human beings alike, don’t you worry. As it turns out, even at a school notorious for partying, there are ways to have fun without drinking.
Here’s an important fact I’ve learned over three years: No one really cares if you’re drunk or not. I met a lot of my friends through clubs, dorms, classes, and other social events. I’ll refer to most of my friends as casual drinkers. Sometimes they’ll go out. Other times they’ll stay in. And no one cares if you’re drinking or not. College alcohol is abundant, but if you’re not drinking, you can still have fun. You can still laugh and talk and hang out while they enjoy a couple of beers and you down another glass of water.
Not all parties are created equal, but when you find those people you really click with, they’ll like you for you.
As for things to do with no drinks involved, go to a school club (there are always at least twenty more than strictly necessary at any given school). There’s always something that will interest you: outdoor clubs, quidditch, a cappella choirs and tightrope walking. Sure not every activity or person will click with you, but there’re so many fun and bizarre and new experiences out there to find that don’t pressure you to drink ‘til you drop.
I won’t deny that drinking is a huge pastime for many. I can’t say that drinking and college don’t tend to coexist. But there’s way more to college than getting smashed, and I’m loving every second of it.