Last week, there was an article printed in The Pacific Index on underage drinking and I wanted to share my opinion on this topic with you.

I’m an exchange student from England, where the legal drinking age is 18, so by the time students enroll in a university they are able to drink.

Drinking is a big part of the United Kingdom student life, with most of welcome week focused on club nights. Welcome week is always sold as when “you’ll meet your best friends,” but in reality you are more likely to be walking around campus trying to remember what happened the night before and awkwardly smiling at people you think you may have met.

I choose not to drink for a lot of different reasons. Mostly personal experiences and the dangers associated with drinking have led me to make this decision.

At York St. John University, I was immediately confronted with the stigma that came with choosing not to drink. You’re suddenly classed as “different” and left out of social activities.

Since when can you not have fun when sober? You’ll actually remember whom you met and you’ll wake up being able to enjoy the next day. Alcohol is not what makes a party fun. In fact, it is usually the thing that will ruin the fun.

No one wants to end the night watching a friend getting loaded into an ambulance, getting into a drunken brawl or getting arrested for underage drinking. Let’s face facts, alcohol in excess is dangerous and should be taken seriously. Most people either don’t realize the consequences involved with underage drinking or turn a blind eye to it.

At a most fatal BAC, Blood Alcohol Concentration, level of 0.45, alcohol can paralyze the portion of your brain that controls your breathing and heart rate. This does not sound like fun to me.

Alcohol does not only affect you personally. It can affect everyone around you. Back home, in my first year at university I was regularly disturbed by drunken roommates spilling in at ridiculous hours or someone having the brilliant idea to make food while drunk and consequently setting off the fire alarm.

As for the students themselves, hardly any of them made it to their classes due to hangovers, which caused them to fall behind on work and ultimately had to drop out because they would fail their first year.

By no means am I trying to convince anyone to not drink ever, but waiting a few years until you’re 21 isn’t forever. If you weigh up the risks of receiving an MIP, Minor In Possession, most likely receiving a fine, community service in court or even failing college (that you’re racking up quite a bit of debt for already), is it really worth it?

You have the rest of your life to drink alcohol and to be honest, you will probably have a lot more fun doing it when you are within the law than climbing over fences trying to run away from a party because the police have arrived.

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