For many international students entering universities, campus life starts with socializing and blending into the new environment. At parties and all kinds of social events, drinking alcohol is sometimes inevitable. So how is drinking culture in the US different from other countries? What are the things international students should be aware of when drinking?
International students often face changes in lifestyle. Being in a new country far away from home, you might want to get a drink to relax during your lonely and stressed moments. Research shows that alcohol can boost confidence temporarily so that people feel more comfortable talking with strangers. So for foreign students, drinking becomes a part of their social life.
You may also experience culture shock. I am from Asia, where alcohol is not a common consumption for students. Many international students, including me, find out that in America we are more affected by drinking culture. More people are drinking at my age, more places are serving alcohol, and more varieties of alcoholic beverages are being offered. This is reshaping drinking habits of students of different backgrounds.
In many countries, laws for minimum drinking age are not enforced very strictly. ID check is not required for purchasing or consuming alcohol at all. But in the United States, the legal drinking age is 21, one of the highest in the world. Therefore, lack of awareness can get international students in trouble.
It is also very important for international students to know the potential risks of alcohol while you are having fun. If you violate the law or university regulations, the following legal issues can lead to criminal and disciplinary charges and even loss of your F-1 status.
- Consuming alcohol under the age of 21 can result in legal actions, and it is also illegal to provide alcohol to minors. Violations on college campus will lead to disciplinary sanctions and possibly leave a record on your transcript. It is strongly recommended to read the student conduct code of your school to know your responsibilities.
- Another topic often discussed with underage drinking is fake ID. Possessing or using fake IDs is a misdemeanor, but making or selling them can be a felony in certain states. Some students try to use a fake foreign ID, but this is also illegal and easy for people to find out.
- Drunk driving is a serious criminal offense related to alcohol. Once convicted, one will be facing sanctions like high fines and jail time. More importantly, drunk driving puts yourself and others in extreme danger.
- Although many of you will not break the law, alcohol can still put you in jeopardy. Your judgment will be impaired when you are intoxicated, which increases the risk of accidental injuries and makes it harder for you to protect yourself from crimes like sexual assault.
So alcohol is gradually changing our lives in this new environment. While we appreciate the pleasure and positive influences brought by drinking, it is crucial to understand the laws of your state and your school, know your limit, and protect yourself. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your student defense lawyer.
These materials have been prepared by Cohen Seglias for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.