Lauren Myers doesn't mind being the designated sober friend.

Be Careful Not to Drink Away Your Study Abroad Experience

Whenever, I tell someone that I don’t drink, they immediately wonder why. For me, I choose not to drink because of my health and family’s history.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to lecture you and tell you that drinking is bad; it isn’t.

I merely want to give you a reminder that there’s more to studying abroad than just drinking.

For many students (who are under the age of 21), studying abroad is the first opportunity where they can drink legally.

So when I set out for my semester abroad in Norway, I questioned what it would be like for me as a non-drinker.

First off, I was always forced out of my comfort zone. Whether that be politely declining a drink someone just offered me to sharing why I choose to be a non-drinking. But eventually I learned how to deal with my discomfort and became less awkward.

I attended parties in the student villages or at the university about every other week. I had fun being surrounded by my friends, enjoyed meeting new people, let loose dancing, and ate ridiculous amounts of snack foods into the wee hours of the morning. Plus, I was okay with always being the “designated” sober friend.

I never felt as though I was a walking stereotype of a “loud, obnoxious heavy drinker”. So I didn’t worry about how locals would perceive me as a study abroad student or how others thought about my nation (regarding alcohol consumption and drinking habits).

Not once did I feel that I was missing out on exploring my host country.There were times that even being apart of the nightlife as a sober outsider was incredibly entertaining and an educational experience.

Lastly, no matter where I was or what was going on I treated every night like it was my last because before I knew it, it was.

If you choose to not drink don’t let being a non-drinker stop you from studying abroad. If you do choose to drink remember: you can drink anywhere but you can only experience your host country in that country and who knows when you’ll ever get the chance to travel there, again.

Submitted by Lauren Myers from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. 

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