Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Party School

I just finished listening to a recent This American Life podcast about Penn State and it's status as the #1 Party School in America (Princeton Review). It chronicles the rather large problem of excessive binge drinking and all the delightful behavior that comes with it. ("Excessive binge drinking"--is that redundant?) Anyway having attended what most people consider a party school (WSU), I recognized the scenarios in the story (drunk kids peeing on lawns of local townspeople), student "types" (obnoxious drunk girls & spaced out guys) and the tragedies (a student falls to their death or dies of alcohol poisoning).

Drinking and college go hand in hand--there's no way around it and I won't deny that I had a great time. Maybe I was lucky or smart or a little of both but nothing regrettable happened in my college experience where alcohol & partying were concerned. I knew I was there to learn & work toward a career so the social aspect was a benefit not a requirement. But I developed a partying strategy to successfully navigate the scene:

1) Act more drunk than you actually are. This was not difficult for me due to the Asian Flush. Within one drink, my cheeks would be lit up like a Christmas tree. Still, you can maintain control and have a good time.
2) Leave before the downturn. There is always a point in a party/gathering where the fun climaxes and then everything/everybody gets ugly. Leave before then and keep your happy memories.
3) Have backup. Especially as a gal, it's unwise to go alone to a frat house or a party where you don't really know the people very well. Also avoid walking around late at night on a college campus by yourself.
4) Know your limit/pace yourself. Why do you need to do 5 shots in 5 minutes? What is the point of that? Do college kids think that despite a virtually endless supply of alcohol available in a college town that they might be capable of drinking it all? I never understood that.

I guess I'm feeling sort of apprehensive about this now that I have a kid and I'm squirreling away money for her college education. All of a sudden this isn't all fun and games anymore, college students can get seriously messed up or dead from binge drinking or activities stemming from it. I would not want to deny her some raucously awesome magical nights in her future but it sure looks different from this side of the table now. And yes, I know I have a while before I need to seriously think about this but it's never too late to save so never too late to worry.

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