The summer before I started my college journey, I was curious about what I might encounter in terms of drinking and drug use. I didn’t know what to expect since I grew up in a household where neither of my parents drank or took drugs, and I rarely encountered it in high school.

I soon discovered upon arriving at school that many students have a “work hard, play hard” mindset. During the week, academics are taken very seriously and most students dedicate their free time to studying and hanging out with friends. However, come Friday night, the campus becomes divided between those who party and those who find other ways to have fun.

However, I have never seen a student pressured to drink or have their choice not to drink judged as odd. Whenever I’ve turned down a beer, I’ve always gotten a relaxed, positive OK in response. At my college, I discovered that most people are nonjudgmental about their peers’ choices related to alcohol or drugs from both ends of the spectrum. One of my favorite things we have on campus is a strong Good Samaritan policy emphasizing safety is more important than ethics and values.

While I have some friends that go out and party, I also have plenty of others who are substance-free. I have no problem finding social activities on party nights that don’t involve alcohol or drugs. We always have so much fun and have a great time without using substances to do so. On the occasions when I do go out to parties, I can just dance with my friends, talk with people, listen to the music, and take advantage of the free pizza without feeling any desire, temptation, or pressure to drink. At the same time, I respect the different choices of my peers and am more than willing to help anyone who has had too much to drink and needs assistance. It is impossible to deny that drinking and drug use does take place at my school, but I have found a place where I feel comfortable and confident in my own choice to remain substance-free.