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


One of the main lessons we learn growing up is that it is always okay to ask for help. That is very true. Yet, people have trouble receiving help in this new era. People who post their feelings on sites like Facebook are often accused of whining and needing attention. If you need advice, you need to ask for it directly. Your true friends will be there for you.

What do you do when you get bad advice? Trust your instincts. (If your instincts disagree with this statement, feel free to disregard it). If you think someone does not have your best interests at heart, you do not have to listen. Peer pressure is a good example of this. If someone wants you to have a drink and it’s legal, it is fine to indulge. However, if you have already had enough, then you do not have to drink to be cool. You know yourself better than anyone else does. You probably also have developed some sense of right and wrong. Even if you are lost and confused on issues and you ask for advice, it is not rude not to take it. The important thing is to respect that person who tried to help you.

Here are some tips to make sure that happens:

  1. Listen. Listen to someone’s advice even if it is not what you want to hear. It may be what you need to hear.
  2. Think about it for yourself. It may make you see things in a new light even if it does not solve your problem immediately. As I noted before, trust your instincts.
  3. Say thank you. Say it in words or a gesture such as buying them coffee. Even if what they said did not work out, at least they tried.

Giving advice can also be hard because you do not want to be responsible for leading someone down the wrong path. Sometimes you have not gone through what someone else is going though. The best you can do is just be there. If someone is coming to you for help, it makes them brave but vulnerable. Do not betray that trust. You are giving the gift of your experience. This could save someone from making a mistake that you have made yourself. You are also giving someone the benefit of your friendship, which will last much longer than any problem. The most important note is that in giving advice, it is not about you. It is about helping someone else. 

Here are some tips to make sure that happens:

  1. Make sure the person is ready for the information. If someone does not want to be helped, they will not accept any help. Specifically, see if they ask to know what you think. Sometimes people just want to be heard.
  2. Think about what you do know about the situation. Do your best to make an informed statement even if you feel out of your depth. If you have no idea what they are going through, it is okay to admit that. It gives them the chance to see if they still want your opinion.
  3. Be honest but be kind. The truth is important but it is not worth making the person you are helping feel judged. If they feel like you are against them, they might not accept your help. Try to see things from their perspective.

No matter what, you have to trust that what you’re doing is right. You have to be kind. You can always ask for help if you need it.   

Image: morguefile


Like many returning college students, the next few weeks will be a whirlwind of textbook hunting, syllabus sighing, and alarm clock slamming. Being a senior (and preparing for a thesis… or two…), I would love to say that I’m used to the First Week hustle and bustle. But like the Freshmen who are moving into the dorms, and like the underclassmen who I’ve come to know, I end up losing a bit of sleep due to all the excitement. There are a few things that I’m sure people get nervous about, like meeting professors, finding your place, and academics. Here are a few things I tell myself, and they might help you out too!

“I’ve done this before.”

Freshman or senior, this applies. You’ve taken those SATs, AP exams, midterms, and finals. You’ve met new people, made new friends, and survived an awful prom night with terrible acne (eck). College is a little better because you (hopefully) like what you’re doing and you can change your mind if you don’t. If you don’t know what you’re doing, this is a good chance to explore. The tip here is to be confident in yourself. You might be worried about the workload, and the syllabus may look intimidating, but that’s okay. You’ll meet upperclassmen who can tutor you and classmates who will study with you. You’ll meet people who relate to you more than ever. Do your best and fear not. Take one step at a time.

“I am who I want to be.”

This comes in handy often. In a new environment, you might find yourself wondering if you will fit in somewhere. You might see yourself change a bit (your clothes, your music tastes, your interests). That’s a normal and healthy thing to do. Don’t feel too pressured to do something if you don’t think it fits you, but do embrace things that seem to feel right. For example, I didn’t particularly like watching movies until I got into college. I was a bookworm and that was the end of it. Now I try to watch one or two a month because it gives me something to talk to people. I didn’t become a movie ­snob (a term I use endearingly), but I am giving it a shot and it has added to my view of the world. You are always you, and no matter who you meet, who your new professors are, or who your peers are, that one fact will never change. Be open-minded but be honest with yourself. This will help you keep a good balance.

“It’s okay to mess up.”

This applies for both of the previous things, but people forget this one often. Anxiety, nervousness, fear. These things come from the feeling that we humans can’t understand or control something. That’s natural and everybody feels these emotions. You might be nervous about a test, or you failed one and you’re afraid of failing the next one. But who will find you ten years from now and ask you, “How did you do on that one quiz in Freshman year Design in that class in room 912 in building C with Professor Twitts?” Probably nobody. And who’s going to come up to you and ask, “Do you remember that one time when you went to that party and stood around awkwardly?” Also probably nobody. Chances are, everyone is feeling like you – they’re freaking out about who they are and what they want to be – and they’re so occupied with that they won’t remember the little things that might consume you at the moment.

So incoming Freshman and fellow seniors, and everybody in between… are you ready for a new semester? Put your worries and fears aside. All of your experiences will be great stories one day, so have no fear, and go forward with confidence!

Image: Unsplash