The Evolution of Drinking
College Life | 

The Evolution of Drinking

...from freshman to senior year.

What's college without a little alcohol now and then? Over the span of four (or so) years, drinking habits change just as much as we do. Below, a short gif chronology.


The typical freshman drinker probably didn't do much of it in high school. They come to college maybe never even having a sip. Drinking is usually done in unfinished basements of that one friend from Ochem. The first of getting a "minor consumption" is a real and imminent threat. Some of your friends might be brave enough to get a fake I.D.


The novelty has worn off and an overconfident sophomore has taken its place. It is the year of underage purgatory. You're so close to 21, you can almost taste it. (Literally. You can taste the countless, legally-ordered, risk-free g&ts at the bar. But I digress.) Sophomore year is the year of the frathouse. The consumption of alcohol is usually provided in a shot glass, or a used solo cup, given away by an overly generous frat bro. Don't forget those trendy X's in Sharpie on your hands that won't come off for a week.


This is usually the year of turning 21, unless you're a genius. Something happens this year. It's like we completely forgot how to drink all over again. If you pay for any of your drinks on your birthday, you are doing something wrong. The bars are the greatest thing to ever happen. How did we ever go to parties? Bars are so much better.


Year four, and the drinking has finally slowed down. The preferred method usually involves a glass (or two, let's be real) of wine and Netflix. On the rare night of heavy drinking, the next morning is followed by "Oh god I'm so old" and "I can't drink like I use to". The bars become the worst place on campus. They take all your money and good judgement.

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Turnt Off

And the problems that come along with binge drinking.

FlockU Presents is a new vertical we've launched for longform pieces about topics you care about - everything from sex and body shaming to the history of beer pong to how terrorism affects you as a college student.

As a student living in the UK, binge drinking in college is visible on a day-to-day basis. It's an issue that is usually swept under the rug, or normalized with an increasingly alarming ease. Before college, I'd have never imagined that I'd be capable of drinking at least twice a week. Yet this is considered standard in some places.

At college, we have the tendency to glorify binge drinking and alcohol abuse.

"Omg I've gotten wasted two nights in a row, I'm such an alcoholic."

"Yo fam, last night I downed one LITER of ciroc. I was HELLA turnt."

"You mixed vodka, gin, whiskey AND beer? You're such a heavyweight, Connor!"

We talk about drinking huge amounts of alcohol for extended periods of time with such glee and delight, as if it's some sort of achievement. Really, we're just screwing up our liver and risking the start of a downward spiral that could lead to alcoholism (or worse)!

The issue of excessive alcohol consumption can have massive consequences, but it is trivialized to a huge extent among college students everywhere.

Every year, over 1,800 college students die from alcohol-related injuries. This includes injuries from driving under the influence of alcohol.

It's not just injuries to oneself that occur, but to others too. Annually, almost 700,000 students are assaulted by another student under the influence of alcohol. And as if that's not bad enough, alcohol contributes to the sexual assault of just about 100,000 students every year.

1 in 4 students also report academic consequences due to drinking. This includes falling behind in class, missing class altogether, failing exams and flunking the school year. It's hard to treat alcohol like a joke when it's inarguably harming yourself, your peers, and your grades.

Binge drinking can also have an impact on colleges as institutions. Studies have shown that 25 percent of college administrators at colleges with low-level drinking habits have complained about either "moderate" or "major" vandalism and property damage due to alcohol. The number stands above 50 percent for colleges with high-level drinking habits..

I spoke to Stuart Sowah, an alumnus of the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, about alcohol in college. Stuart is a staunch teetotaler, and I wanted to see what observations he's made on binge drinkers at college.

Craig Debrah: Stuart, how long have you been teetotal?

Stuart Sowah: I'm not gonna lie, I don't know what that means.

C.D: It means how long have you been sober?

S.S: Well the last time I drank was when I was about 13 years old. My brother and I raided our dad's alcohol cabinet and drank heavy spirits. I didn't get intoxicated though.

C.D: Did you get spanked?

S.S: Nah, to this day he still doesn't know about it!

C.D: So why exactly are you teetotal?

S.S: Many reasons. I've seen what it does to people. My friends started drinking when we were underage and I didn't want to start like them and ruin my liver. Alcohol is also super expensive.

C.D: Have your friends ever tried to pressure you into drinking?

S.S: Even my parents have.

C.D: How do you have the resolve to say "no", ALL THE TIME?

S.S: Peer pressure has never been an issue for me.

C.D: Tell me the top three craziest things you've seen drunk friends do?

S.S: Sleeping in the middle of the road, fighting yet missing every punch thrown, and extreme vomiting.

C.D: Extreme vomiting?

S.S: Throwing up every 10 seconds for a sustained period of time.

C.D: Stuart, have you ever encountered anyone at school who you think suffers from alcoholism?

S.S: Several. The worst one was a Welsh housemate of mine.

C.D: What was so bad about them?

S.S: When she got drunk, she'd vomit all over herself and still attempt to function normally with vomit in her hair, on her clothes and in her hands.

C.D: That's messed up. How often was she drinking?

S.S: Sometimes up to four times a week.

C.D: What do you notice about all heavy drinkers in college?

S.S: They all repeat the same dreaded line almost weekly; "I'm never drinking again". They all master their bodies very well and know how to get wasted as quickly as possible.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I spoke to a good friend of mine who had problems with binge drinking last year while in college. He has always been a heavy drinker, but he started getting sick and feeling extreme pain in his stomach and side after binge sessions. He asked to remain anonymous, so we've redacted his name and used a fake one.

Craig Debrah: Tell me about the problems drinking has caused you to have.

Lex: It started around February 2015. I was in Belgium at the time, and the morning after a night of heavy drinking, I had pain in my stomach and side. That was the first time I experienced it, then in September it happened again, although this time it was ten times worse. The pain was unbearable so I went to the hospital.

C.D: What did they diagnose you with?

Lex: They ran mad blood and urine tests and told me I had been drinking too much and that it was hurting my kidneys and liver.

C.D: Did they prescribe you with anything?

Lex: Nah, they just told me to stop drinking for the next three weeks and see what happens. I only lasted two though!

C.D: So you went back to heavy drinking?

Lex: Well, before the whole hospital thing I was bingeing about 3 times a week. After that I cut down to about once a week and didn't consume as much alcohol on any individual occasion. I've been good ever since.

When discussing the cons of alcohol, we tend to forget the very real health risks it can pose. My friend learned the hard way that our bodies simply are not built to tolerate large

Just to be clear, no one is saying to go teetotal and not touch a drop of alcohol anymore. My only advice is to be careful. Keep an eye on your consumption of alcohol and if problems start to arise more frequently, that's when you should start to ask questions.

When the fun stops, stop.

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College Life |  Source: L. Smith, Shutterstock

Tips For Hitting The Bars On A Budget

Maximize the fun, minimize the financial regret.

Go in on the pregame with friends.
Every baller on a budget knows you can't hit the bars without pre-gaming.

Instead of just buying your own booze, have some friends chip in as well. If you're trying to pregame with fifteen people on a budget, try this Lemonade Hunch Punch Recipe: a handle of shitty vodka (Aristocrat), a thirty rack of shitty beer (Keystone Light), and three or four cans of frozen lemonade concentrate.

You won't taste the cheap alcohol at all, and it takes about one or two solo cups to get drunk off this stuff.

The best part? It only costs around forty-five dollars, so if everyone contributes a couple bucks, you and your friends can get wasted for cheap. Warning: this stuff will get you really drunk, so ya know, be responsible.


The worst game of pool ever.

Go to the bars that are best for you.
What do you prefer to do when you hit the bars? Whether you like socializing, dancing, or playing pool (see above), find the bars best suited for you. Maximizing your fun will keep you more in the moment and less focused on that hot bartender.

When choosing what bars you hit, ask yourself, "Would I like this place if I were sober?" If a bar is so shitty or boring that you have to be wasted to tolerate it, then you'll probably end up spending too much money on drinks.

...Maybe don't get that drunk?
If you pace yourself, you're more likely to get the most out of the night. If you must get drunk, make sure to pregame. Keep the pregame buzz going at the bar with shots.

Unless you pre-gamed with beer, don't start drinking beer at the bar.


Matt Wilkinson's bar tab after winning the Bells Beach surfing title.

Leave your credit card at home.
Use cash instead. Don't trust your drunk self to keep track of your credit card transactions. Just make sure you have safe transportation there and back as well as some cash in your wallet.

Have drunk food ready ahead of time.
You are going to get the drunchies. I personally think the best part about hitting the bars is coming back home to pig out. Delivery food can seem delightful when you obviously can't drive and probably can't cook, but it's a major threat to your budget. Plan ahead for your late-night drunchies if you're trying to hit the bars on a budget.

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College Life | 

British Drinking Games

Add something new to your pre-game.

Is this water?

This is a game of deception. Line up a whole load of shots, some of water, some of Vodka, some of Sambuca, some of any clear spirit that looks like water. Mix them all up together, and you and your people take it in turns. Down the shot and keep a straight face (as if you were downing water). If you show any facial sign that what you drank was not water, you take another shot. Continue until you learn to stop being a wuss and take your shots like the alcoholic that you are.

The Question Game

This is a game that can be played over a long period of time. It can be played while playing other games or doing other tasks. A rule is set amongst you and your fellow drunks, where if you answer any question with "yes" for the rest of the night, you have to drink.


Sit in a circle and whisper a question into the ear of the person sitting next to you. This person has to answer the question out loud. Bear in mind, the question must be framed so the answer is relative to everyone in the room. For example, you whisper to the person next to you "who has the biggest head in the room?" That person answers out loud with "Craig". If you're dying to find out what the question is, you have to drink.

Ring Of Fire (AKA Kings)

This is a game with many rules, so you have to focus and pay attention. You need cards for this one. Spread a whole deck of cards around a glass, with no breaks in the card circle. Everyone sit in a circle around the glass and deck of cards. The glass will be used as a sickening, dangerous, highly toxic concoction of all the alcohol you have. Now, each player must have his own individual drink. He then takes a card from the circle while trying not to break it. If you break the circle, down your drink. Each card has an individual meaning and rule attached to it. Here are the rules for each card:

2= You: Choose someone to drink

3=Me: Down your drink

4= Bitches: All females drink

5= Arseholes: All males drink

6= Nosey: Last person to touch their nose drinks

7= Friends: Every time you drink, the person you choose from here on, drinks too

8= Bars: Start a rhyme, go round the circle rhyming with the initial word. Take too long? Make a mistake? Drink.

9= Categories: Go round the circle listing things from a particular category. Mess up and you drink.

10= Selfish: Pick Another card

Jack= Ruler: Make a rule for the game that everyone must follow. If you break the rule, you drink. Be reasonable please.

Queen= Innocence: Play a round of 'Never Have I Ever'

King= Intoxication: Add some of your drink to the concoction in the middle. The person who draws the last King left in the game downs the whole filthy mix.

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College Life | 

Grade Level: Fifth-Year Senior

It's not the time it takes to get somewhere, it's the direction you're going.

Graduating from college in the traditional four years isn't always a given. Whether it's due to switching schools or majors, constant curriculum changes, or completing prerequisites for graduate school, four years to graduation doesn't always seem doable. As a fifth-year senior, here are a few things you'll realize as you attempt to make it through that final stretch.

Everyone around you will seem like babies. Newsflash: They are babies. Every freshman around you was still in middle school when you were graduating high school. Don't allow yourself to feel old. I prefer the term "seasoned".

Don't get upset at the babies (aka freshman) turning the library into a social event. Remember, you once did the same thing. As a fifth-year senior, you'll find that getting your work done in cozy coffee shops is much more appropriate, and fun.

You might feel lonelier. As a fifth year, you'll do more things alone, like studying, eating, grocery shopping, and even working out. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. When the day comes for you to move to a new city and start a new career, you'll already feel comfortable enough to dine by yourself or try out a new workout class alone. To be honest, the time alone I've had in my fifth year has given me more time to get in touch with myself. I've realized I needed this extra year to understand my passions and where they could take me next in the post-college chapter of my life.

Going out is different. When you do have time to go out, it will be a lot different than it was your first four years: Two-For-One weeknight specials at the bars will turn into a glass of red wine on the couch and bad reality TV. Your body will reject going out multiple nights in a row and you might be the oldest one at the campus bars. But this doesn't mean you can't have fun anymore, it just means it's time to mix it up. Find out which bars downtown are known for an older crowd of med students and young professionals and grace them with your presence.

Don't beat yourself up. Sure, some of your friends are living in cool places and working their new 9-5, but that doesn't automatically put them in a better place than you. I'm sure they get jealous that you still get winter breaks, Fridays off, and hot athletes in your group projects. Remember, time will pass, and you have the rest of your life to work. Enjoy where you are right now.

This extra time in school is happening for a reason. Maybe you need more time to understand where your career is going, more time to understand who you are, or more time to meet people who will make a difference in your life. Remember, it's not the time it takes to get somewhere, it's the direction you're going.

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College Life |  Source: FlockU, Shutterstock

Your Shot Based On Your Summer Plans (Quiz)

What'll it be? Tequila? Maybe whiskey?

If you aren't free from school for the summer yet, you're probably almost there. That means it's about time to get drinking.

Summer can mean a lot of different things person to person, which means what you should be drinking is also going to vary. If you're wondering what to stock up on for the weeks to come, take this quiz to find out which alcohol fits best with the summer you have ahead.