There’s more to college weekends than drinking

By ASTHA BERRY | March 29, 2018

Spring break: bikinis, tans, college students across the country getting as drunk as possible. Perhaps spring break, now more than ever, is a time when one hears, “I wanna get wasted” or “I can’t wait to black out” with Snapchats, Instagram stories and Facebook photos proudly displaying copious amounts of alcohol. 

It’s a time when the pervasiveness of drinking can be overwhelming. 

This past weekend, I went to a friend’s beach house and had an absolute blast. When most people hear “spring break” and “beach house” they just assume that means drinking all day. 

And yes, that is the ideal vacation for some people. Some people would love to spend all weekend playing drinking games. I just don’t find these games enjoyable because I don’t like competitive games or drinking to get drunk. Some people do, and that’s fine. 

But, whenever I tell someone that I don’t feel like drinking or don’t want to, I usually get badgered with questions.

I don’t usually mind, because my reasons are simple. The truth is I’m not a huge fan of the taste. When I turned 21, I got four drinks, all of which were juice (not “grape juice” as in wine but honest-to-goodness juice).

The city where I was vacationing at the time had a lot of fresh fruit. So pure fruit juice was the drink I was most interested in.

Turning 21 meant that I could legally drink but not that I had to. The fact that my choice does not align with many other people’s warrants the hundred questions and a slight pressure to conform.

It’s important not to shame someone for not wanting to drink. So, with all that in mind, here are some dry alternatives to check out in Baltimore. 

Heavy drinking can have measurable negative effects on your body. So swap it out for one of the many upcoming full-moon-themed yoga events.

While it may not seem appealing to spend your evening exercising, you can enjoy the light of March’s blue moon and pick up some mindfulness while you do it. It may not be the big breakthrough moment that you need in order to commit to a healthier lifestyle, but a little soreness in your core is definitely preferable to a hangover.

Perhaps a special someone tells you they don’t drink. Respect that and propose an alcohol-free date.

Luckily there are many wonderful sober options.

Consider attending a performance at a dry venue like the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, or listen to a talk at Red Emma’s or hit up one of Baltimore’s many cinemas. 

There’s undoubtedly a stereotype that teetotalers are not fun. So it’s important to support people who are making a conscious decision to forgo alcohol. All of these choices provide great alternatives, and they’re more conducive to conversation than a crowded bar downtown or a noisy nightclub in Station North.

A challenging part of a substance-free lifestyle (or even just a substance-free weekend) is the fact that liquor is almost everywhere. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol or isn’t BYOB.

This can be particularly tricky if you’re trying to enjoy every college student’s favorite weekend meal, brunch.

Luckily, because Easter is this weekend, there are a number of brunch options in Charm City on Sunday that won’t be so boozy. 

If you’re feeling a little classier, I recommend going to brunch service at The French Kitchen at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. Tons of great food without a focus on mimosas.

Birroteca provides a slightly more affordable option along with a slightly closer location (Remington).

It’s worth noting that both options will be serving alcohol for those who choose to purchase it. But drinks are not included, so there’s less pressure to consume vodka at 11 in the morning. 

Furthermore, if you’re thinking about taking a break from alcohol to detox and give your liver a break, nothing incentivizes you quite so much as watching hungover people try to order eggs Benedict.

It is natural to be curious about why someone does not drink, especially if they used to drink before. Recognize that the reasons might be incredibly personal and not something they want to share. 

There are people who cannot drink because they had a really negative or painful experience (which they are not going to want to relive in recounting it to you) or because it interferes with medications they are taking (also please never ask what someone’s medications are for). Just drop it — nobody owes you an explanation for why you cannot have a pong partner.

Finally, students often joke about alcoholism in college. In a way, art and entertainment sometimes romanticize alcoholism and alcohol’s pervasiveness doesn’t help. But it is a real issue. People are dealing with alcoholism, and it should not be joked about or taken as lightly as it often is. 

It’s simple. If you want to drink, that’s cool. But if you don’t want to drink, that’s cool, too. Let’s just try to show a little more respect, compassion and tact when someone does not feel like drinking. Moreover, let’s consider exploring one of the many dry activities to do in Baltimore. 

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