Skip to main content

International Students Guide – Raise Your Awareness of Problems with Alcohol

By December 19, 2018April 6th, 2022No Comments

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.

Shan Wu

Author Shan Wu

Shan’s professional and personal background gives him a unique understanding of academic institutions and the criminal justice system. A former federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., he is at home in D.C. Courts and very familiar with all of the Washington, D.C. law enforcement agencies, especially the Metropolitan Police Department. His parents were university professors so he grew up in a university environment. He understands the mindset of academic institutions. As a prosecutor, he supervised in the misdemeanor crime section. This is the section of the Washington, D.C. prosecutor’s office that handles most college student cases. His understanding of charging decisions and how judges view these cases is invaluable to his student clients and their families. Shan served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for over ten years. During his tenure there, now Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. appointed him to supervisory positions in the Misdemeanor Trial Section and also in a police corruption task force. His outstanding legal work in the government was recognized through numerous Special Achievement Awards from the Justice Department as well as awards conveyed by law enforcement agencies and community groups. From 1999-2000, Shan served as Counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, advising her on criminal and civil investigations, E-Gov, E-Commerce (electronic signatures, internet gambling, internet telephony, privacy & public access issues in electronic court filings), congressional oversight, and legislative review. His responsibilities included serving as liaison to the FBI, DEA, Criminal Division, Executive Office of United States Attorneys, National Institute of Justice, and White House Counsel’s Office. Shan serves on the D.C. Bar Association’s Hearing Committee of the Board on Professional Responsibility and is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association for the Greater Washington, D.C. area. He is a 1988 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where he graduated Order of the Barristers, edited two law reviews, and was Co-Director of the Moot Court Program. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College as well as a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Following law school, he clerked for the late Hon. Jerry Buchmeyer, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, and the late Eugene Wright, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Connecticut.

More posts by Shan Wu
Skip to content