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College Culture: How to Stay Sober…and Still Have Fun!

Some teens dream of leaving home so they can party in college. I was not one of them. As a first-generation American college student, I imagined myself picking the brains of world-class professors and the exploring the expansive on-campus redwood forest that my university had to offer.

Much to my dismay, most of my peers did not feel the same way.

Fitting in Can’t be Your Priority

At first I tried to engage the popular college party culture, but it was not a good fit for me. When you’re one of the few sober folks at a party, it’s easy to feel out of place.

After forcing myself to attend dozens of booze-enthused gatherings, I came to the conclusion that there might be more satisfying ways for me to socialize.

Some of my peers seemed confused when I explained that I did not really “party”. Others lost interest in making my acquaintance.

At first this was disappointing, but I came to realize that there were a number of meaningful ways to have fun and socialize in college that did not involve liquor, pills or powders. Here’s a look at five on-campus activities to get you started.

Take Advantage of the Daytime

Remember those satisfying activities that can only take place in the daytime? Like an early morning run or an afternoon yoga class? Invite a new friend to try a spin class with you or swim some laps at the campus pool. Get some sunshine!

Do Something That Genuinely Interests You

Wish you could speak Russian and study abroad in St. Petersburg? Want to know how to salsa, play the harp or cook Thanksgiving dinner? Well…you can! Jot down some extravagant (yet attainable) goals that you’d like to accomplish during your time in school and make them happen! Whether you dream about running a marathon or just running around the block, there are plenty of fun and fulfilling activities to pursue that don’t involve being hung over. After all, beer pong skills or the ability to roll a blunt aren’t the kind of skills that will carry you into a productive adulthood.

Take Advantage of the University’s Recreational Resources

My undergrad institution offered a catalog of mind-blowing university-hosted recreational events, activities, classes and getaways. They included plant-identification hikes, guided mushroom foraging events, Tahitian dance classes, massage therapy certification courses, wilderness survival courses, pottery classes and moonlit kayak outings, to name just a few. And from weekend camping trips to ballroom dancing to kayaking, I tried them all! Get involved in these activities…you might be surprised at the new passions you uncover.

Volunteer Your Time and Service

Whether you’re passionate about youth education, animal welfare, adult literacy, elder care, organic gardening, reproductive rights, public health or the environment, there is a meaningful volunteer position waiting for you. Plus, volunteer work is a great way to meet like-minded individuals who are dedicated to helping others while sustaining sobriety.

Take an Intern Position

Get a few steps ahead of the competition and beat post-grad unemployment rates by pursuing a killer intern opportunity. Some intern positions are offered for college credit; some are paid positions. Either way, you’re doing something that will better your life and career opportunities. You may not be offered a full-time job when the internship is over, but you can make some valuable company connections and grab a few college credits in the process. Speak with your campus advisor to find out more about these university-sponsored resources.

Additional Reading: Campus Culture: Resisting Relapse in College

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