Oh, Welcome Week. That celebration of the college lifestyle, once taken for granted and now fully appreciated after a long summer at home. Apart from the slow torture that is moving into your new apartment/dorm room, the week before school starts is rife with the opportunity to exercise your renewed (or newfound) freedom to be drunk whenever. you. please.
During the first few weeks of school, it is common for new students to receive invitations to off-campus parties. These parties can pose significant risks to students. We want students to consider these factors:
How will they get home safely from the party?
Who else do they know is attending the party? Do they trust these people to step up for them as engaged bystanders if needed? How will they look out for their friends and ensure that all get home safely?
If your student chooses to drink, do they understand the potential consequences for their safety, health and disciplinary record? Be sure to remind them of the strategies identified in the Think About It online education tool.
1. Eat plenty, and know your limits
It’s common knowledge that it’s important to eat plenty before a night out – not only will it line your stomach so you don’t over-do it on the alcohol front, but sometimes it can even rid the effects of the next-morning hangover!
Carbs will become your best friend during freshers’ week – a slice of bread or a nice bowl of pasta will prepare you for the night ahead.
But even the most seasoned of drinkers sometimes become carried away when enjoying a night out. It’s important to know your alcohol limits, and understand that your limits may change daily dependant on how much you’ve eaten, the length of time you’ve been drinking, and any physical activity you may have partaken in that day.
A pint of water between each drink is usually a good idea, as it not only slows your drinking, but it will keep you (more) hydrated than if you’re purely drinking alcohol.
2. Keep an eye on your drinks
Whilst bars and clubs are very cautious when it comes to the risk of your drinks being spiked, it’s sensible to keep an eye on your drinks during a night out – if only to prevent those pesky ‘minesweepers’ from stealing your drinks.
Placing a coaster or a bottle stopper on top of your drink is an easy way to prevent a ‘drive-by’ spiking. Alternatively, you can now buy drug testing strips online for as little as £5 – so if you suspect that your drinks been spiked, test it.
3. Know how you’re getting home
Have a look into what transport is available in your new city. Some universities offer ‘safety buses,’ a volunteer-run service that will scoop you up and take you home, usually at a lower cost of £1. This is a great service if you’re out of money, you don’t really know where you are and could use a friendly face. However, this shouldn’t be used as a cheap taxi service – this should only be used when you’re in real need of assistance.
Alternatively, save some taxi numbers to your phone, or find a bus timetable so you can plan your route home before you even set foot out the door. And don’t forget to make a note of your new address before you head on your night out, it’ll make your life a lot easier later on.
4. Travel as a pack
Whilst you’re acclimatising to your new surroundings, it’s a good idea to travel as a group. Not only is it a useful bonding exercise with your new flatmates, but you can all look out for each other as you explore new areas.
An extra pair of eyes on your drink, a few extra people to remember the route home, as well as a cheaper taxi fare at the end of the night, are just a few of the many reasons to travel in packs.
5. Make sure your phone is fully charged
There’s no doubt you’ll be taking your phone with you on a night out, but have you checked that it’s on the full battery, and that you have some credit in case you need to call a taxi?
If you’re taking lots of pictures and texting your new friends to find out which club they’re in, your battery might drain pretty quickly – so make sure it’s at 100% before heading out.