It seems like everyone talks about college life as if it is completely dependent on booze. From movies, books and TV shows, we are inundated with media that tells us that the only way a student can enjoy college is by drinking alcohol. While it’s true that drinking culture—binge drinking culture, rather—is indeed and unfortunately a way of life for many college students, it doesn’t make it the best way. Students who partake in excessive alcohol use in college are susceptible to poor academic performance, being physically ill, losing quality sleep and a number of tricky social situations that stem from drunken behavior.
No matter how socially accepted college debauchery has become, it doesn’t have to be the default definition. Here are 3 ways you can make your college years memorable without hiding behind alcohol or any other substances:
1. Dive into your studies.
This may sound boring or obvious at first but you’ll be surprised at how enriching things can be once you start giving it your full attention. Find study buddies who are serious about learning and join clubs or organizations that also make the process fun. Once you start diving in, you’ll begin to find other like-minded people with the same academic interests as you.
2. Do good for others.
Research has shown that those who help others feel a stronger sense of happiness. If you have some spare time, get out into your community or your campus to donate your time and skills to those who need it. You can mentor younger students as a Big Brother or Big Sister, or even help out with feeding the elderly through programs like Meals on Wheels.
3. Get outdoors.
No matter where you are, there are exhilarating adventures for the taking in the outdoors. Even cities like New York, where outdoor activities are not the easiest of options, have city parks that are surprisingly vast and scenic. Perhaps you can take a drive out to the nearest body of water or hiking spot. Find a college or community group that go on various excursions and soon enough you may find yourself rock climbing or kayaking on the weekends. When you are active, you won’t be thinking that you’re missing out on the drinking and drugging surrounding college life. Instead, you’ll be buzzing on your extra endorphins and adrenaline.
It might not be easy to transition into college culture, but realize that big changes take time to get used to. Stay confident and on the sober path and you will soon discover that there are plenty of others out there doing just the same.