CultureHealth

Have you ever heard the phrase “Pick your poison?” It commonly refers to drinking, but many of us drink the “poison” anyway. This is because drinking can make you feel differently than you usually do. It is literally intoxicating and lowers your inhibitions. While it may provide a good feeling, it does not come without consequences. That is why is important to drink responsibly, which means taking personal responsibility even while under the influence of alcohol. Luckily, doing so is quite easy.

Here are the ways you can drink responsibly:

  1. Drink in moderation. We all know about hangovers, but sometimes we still get them. Instead of waking up with a headache, learn when to stop. If you don’t stop, you risk fatal alcohol poisoning. That is just a short term consequence. Alcohol is an addictive substance and if you are not careful, drinking alcohol might become a bigger part of your life. Alcoholism and poisoning can be prevented by drinking in moderation.
  2. Make sure you have a safe way to return home. We’ve all heard this before, but that is for a good reason. Driving drunk will not just get you a ticket. You risk your life and the lives of others if you are driving under the influence. I won’t get behind the wheel with even one drink in my system. Don’t even get in the car with someone else that has been drinking. People with a higher tolerance are still not completely capable drivers. You may not want to upset your friend by turning down a ride, but being perceived as rude is better than risking both of your lives. Have someone take their keys away. Even walking home alone is risky. If no one knows where you are, they can’t find you if you need help. You could easily stumble into the street and get hit by a car. Make sure you have a designated driver or a cab to take you home.
  3. Learn your limits. In the article, “Alcohol, Drugs, and Personal Choice: Why College Parties Are Overrated,” Shilpa Kancharla points out that while drinking can be fun, it can also cause personal trouble. You will have to face what you did in the morning. If a future employer sees pictures of you misbehaving online, it can determine whether or not you are hired. Everyone is affected differently by drinking, so don’t force yourself to keep up with everyone else. Try to stop drinking before you do something you regret.
  4. Drink in a safe and comfortable environment. Drinking can affect your judgment and coordination, which makes it easier for you to be harmed. It is not your fault if someone else harms you, but do try to keep people you trust around when you are drinking. You never know when you might need them. If you ever don’t feel safe, remove yourself from the situation if you can.
  5. Consult the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) chart to give you an idea of how drinks affect you based on your body weight.
  6. Don’t bother drinking until you are legally allowed to. Different countries have different legal drinking ages. Different households have different rules about drinking. Just know that there is a reason the age limit is what it is. Some reports say your brain isn’t even done developing until you are twenty five. Don’t get arrested for a few hours of fun. You have your whole life ahead of you.

These are just a few tips to drink more safely. It’s okay to enjoy yourself, but keep in mind what you are risking when you do so. Use your judgment. The most important thing is to make it through the night safely.

Image: Arvind Grover

CultureEducationTravel

Studying abroad is a big, fantastic, life-changing decision. Kudos to you for making the choice to do it, but now you’ve got a question to answer for yourself: where will I go?

During my junior year of college, I left my little North Carolina university for a semester as an exchange student at a university in Singapore, where I knew no one, about as far across the globe as I could possibly go. Choosing such an unfamiliar location was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, but it wasn’t the easiest.

Some people, like me, are all over the map with potential locations and take a little time to choose the right place. I’ve compiled a list of 10 questions that I consider important to ask about each potential location when making the decision on where you’ll spend the next mini chapter of your life:

1. What is my goal? What do I want to get out of this experience?

Do you want to learn a language or discover new cultures? Escape your comfort zone? Explore incredible nightlife? Meet new people, or remain with current classmates/close friends? Volunteer? Travel easily? While the questions below will guide you in determining the program that meets your academic, social, travel and financial needs, answering them is no use without first having an idea of what you truly want to gain from your experience, and how far out of your comfort zone you’d like to go.

2. What are the potential host countries’ official language(s)?

Do you speak it/them? Do the universities or programs you’re considering offer classes in English, or only the host language? Can you enroll in language lessons?

3. How  are the potential host countries’ political climate?

Is the country and its region fairly stable and safe, particularly for people of your nationality? People are people no matter where you go, and no matter the situation. Danger is not alwaysas imminent as the media likes us to believe (don’t tell your parents I said that). However, safety is vital, political climates can change quickly, and even if they don’t necessarily affect safety, they can affect your ability to do things such as travel, stay out late, etc. The UN and your country’s embassy sites are informative in these situations.  

4. How are the social dynamics?

Is the country LGBTQIA friendly? Are gender roles significantly different there than in your home country? Is it safe and respectful to openly practice your religion there? How are people from  your country generally treated? Is partying and/or drinking normal or frowned upon?

5. What about cost of living?

Are you funding the experience yourself or with help? How much can you spend on it? Are scholarships available? Check out factors like public transportation, food and drink, leisure and cultural, and rent costs. It may actually be very possible to live significantly more cheaply as a student than you’d expect. (While Singapore’s cost of living is very high, research showed me it was fairly simple to keep my costs low using student housing, public transit, groceries, duty-free stores and on-campus food canteens.)

6. What amenities are available?

Will you be using toilets or holes in the ground? Is running water available for showers, laundry etc.? WiFi? What, if any, western-style amenities are you willing to forego?

7. What about food and drinks?

What is the local diet? (Noodles, glutinous sticky rice or Indian and Malaysian breads were in almost every meal I ate in Singapore – it would have been difficult were I gluten free.) Know how well your allergies will be accommodated and whether you’re willing to try unfamiliar meats, veggies and more. How available is clean water? You’ll almost always be able to find bottled and clean options, particularly if studying through a university or established program, but it’s good to at least have an idea how easily you can do that.

8. How’s the weather?

Know your potential locations’ climates, and how important weather is to you. (A friend of mine considered study only in Scandinavian nations because he absolutely loves the cold.)

9. How easily can I travel?

Seeing the world is a big reason many of us study abroad. Can you take buses and trains inexpensively for weekend trips? What is your proximity to other destinations? What budget airlines travel through your location and region?

10. CULTURE?!

Were you wondering if I was ever going to list this one? It felt like a no-brainer, so I almost didn’t. If you don’t have one standout culture that interests you, ask yourself other questions. Do you love the study of religion? Interested in architecture? History? Art? Fashion? Choose a location rich in the things that pique your curiosity and interest.

Tips:

  • Reach out to people who studied in your program: your university will often be able to connect you – just ask. I did this and it gave me lots of insider tips. Most of us love talking about our study abroad experiences, plus, we can tell you things the websites and advisors won’t.
  • ProCon it: a list of potential goods and bads can help you organize your thoughts if you’re really struggling to figure out where you want to be.
  • Don’t freak out: you will have a life-changing experience if you let yourself. The location will affect how your life is changed, and in what ways, but it’s very hard to go wrong in that department.

Study abroad is fun, mind-opening and challenging, and your decision to do it is the most important one! So enjoy the decision making process; put thought into it, but don’t over-analyze. Listen to your heart, and you’ll end up in the right place for you.

Next week, I’ll cover the important topic of financing a study abroad trip.

What suggestions do you have for choosing a study abroad location? Comment below!

Image: Dominik S., Flickr

EducationSkills

As the sunny season approaches many students translate the word “summer’ directly into “intern season.” The narrative surrounding the months of June to August is usually accompanied by questions like “Where are you interning?” and “Who are you working for?” The stress of feeling like you should have answers to these questions can be overwhelming. But the social and professional pressure to be part of this dialogue is – in my opinion – slightly ridiculous and highly unrealistic. Here are some logistical facts about being an intern:

  • Interning is expensive. On top of having to pay for housing fees, appropriate work attire, transportation, and food, interns typically work for a very small stipend or no money at all (or in some cases they have to work for school credit which can actually cost them additional academic fees). And these are just a few of major financial costs associated with being an intern.
  • Interning is time consuming. Whether you are a part-time or full-time intern, the tasks you are likely doing at this entry level, correlated to the amount of time you spend doing them, often don’t match up on at a quality to quantity comparison.
  • Interning is stressful (for the worst reasons). While I won’t deny altogether that professional growth is, in fact, an important and positive part of personal development, I will stand firm in saying that interning can often lead to copious amounts of unnecessary stress. Because so many people hold their internships up high like a shiny prize they have won, the atmosphere can be tense, uncomfortable, and entirely career-oriented. Rather than viewing internships as ways to learn new and interesting things about a specialty you might be interested in perusing, this dog-eat-dog environment tends to put more emphasis on whether or not a full time position will be offered at the end of it all.

Carpe wants to tell you “No internship? No problem.” In fact, you might be in a better position than your peers, and here’s why:

  • You aren’t bound to a formal time schedule. Without a permanent 7 am wake up time you are free to create a time structure that works best for your own personality and productivity. If you prefer to stay up late working on a personal project versus getting up before the sun rises, you have that option too.
  • You have flexibility when it comes to traveling. Summer is a wonderful time to travel and with a more flexible schedule you can plan a trip during off-peak seasons. That means you save money and can plan to visit friends or family at a time when they can actually host you.
  • You have time to explore a personal passion or interest. If you aren’t interning or working you should definitely be doing something productive on the personal side. Whether that includes writing, drawing, surfing, knitting, learning a new language; it’s up to you – the sky is the limit. This is the only time when all of your other responsibilities aren’t piled on your plate, so optimize every minute!
  • You get to take time for yourself. Sometimes the most important aspect of not having a formal internship is that you get to take time to be alone with yourself. You get to focus entirely on how are you doing mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is difficult to assess how the last year went if you move onto the next step too quickly. Taking time to really check-in an think about what makes sense going forward can really help bring you to the next phase of your life in a thoughtful and internally motived rather than hasty and pressured way.

Whatever you choose to do, do it to its fullest potential. You have the ability to make every day count, so whether you’re interning for your state representative or spending the summer in Cascade, Idaho backpacking and kayaking, invest fully and know that you’re doing just fine. In fact, you’re doing great.

 

What are you doing this summer? Let us know @CarpeJuvenis!

Image courtesy of Unsplash.