Riding on jet skis, soaking up the warm weather surrounded by beauty and making pleasant memories all are fun ways to spend spring break. We hope yours is relaxing and that you will come back to school refreshed and ready to finish the semester.
Some people use spring break as an excuse for making bad choices, using intoxicants without discretion and having illicit sexual encounters with random people they have no real connection with or knowledge of. Those types of behavior are considered high-risk. People who participate in them put their lives in grave danger.
Your spring break doesn’t have to be a “wasted” one. You still can have a good time without getting so drunk or stoned that you don’t even remember it.
Some students do not return to school after the break is over. They overlook all the time, effort and money they invested in their education and decide not to reinvest themselves.
“Life sucks, but it sucks even more when you are stupid,” said Jill Gibson, an assistant professor of speech and mass communication. Don’t be stupid. Set and maintain clear boundaries before going on vacation. Return to school when vacation is over. We want you back.
“Knowing that forewarned is forearmed,” as author Abraham Tucker said, we want to arm you with some safety tips.
Designate a non-drinking driver and give them the keys before any drinking or other intoxicating activity begins. Avoid it altogether if you are one of those who can’t stop once they start. It saves everyone a lot of trouble. If you choose to drink, avoid hard liquor, mixed drinks and mixing any alcohol with too much sun or time in a hot tub. Both of those situations increase the effects of alcohol drastically because they dilate the blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Passing out in water often results in drowning. Make life easier on everyone; don’t drink and drive.
Choose your friends wisely and stick with them. Don’t go home or anywhere else with a stranger. Beware of alcohol poisoning, drugged drinks and offers that are just too good to be true. They usually are cons. Signs that a drink has been spiked with Ambien, Rohypnol or another predatory drug are: confusion, slurred speech, extreme wooziness or dizziness and difficulty standing when only a small amount of alcohol has been consumed.
Look out for yourself and your friends. If any of those signs occur, head to a hospital, ask for help from someone you know and trust or seek out the management of the establishment you are frequenting for assistance. It could save your life.
Remember how valuable you are. Set and keep boundaries before a situation presents itself so you will be prepared. Doing so helps you feel healthier mentally, emotionally and physically, and it gives you the power to choose to avoid regrettable circumstances. People are looking for victims. Whether you become one or not often is up to your choices and the situations you choose to put yourself in. Don’t let someone persuade you to participate in something you find questionable or uncomfortable.
Ask the hotel concierge to get you a cab, direct you to the safest parts of town or suggest places you can meet your friends. Sometimes just letting people know you are with someone else makes them think twice about messing with you because they think someone is expecting you. It is OK to make new friends, but never leave your group and go off with people you don’t know well. You may not return, and those who love you would sorely miss you.
Value yourself the way you value money, jewelry or a vehicle. In truth, your life is far more valuable and irreplaceable than any of those things. Take your ID with you, and keep it safe. Take some friends with you when you go to the ATM, to the restroom or on walks. When it comes to safety, the buddy system is more effective than going out alone.
If you are considering using illegal drugs, remember that possession of, intoxication from and intent to sell can get you in trouble that will follow you throughout your life. That is true in the United States and internationally as well. If you are traveling overseas, know who to contact if you get into a scrape. You can find this information at Students Abroad, a State Department website that has phone numbers, travel tips and other vital information for U.S. travelers. You will want to have this information handy if you are arrested, in an accident, injured, lost or in any other emergency situation.
Students traveling abroad also can register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. STEP allows people to register contact information for emergency situations such as a natural disaster in the area you will be traveling, a family emergency or any other crisis that may occur.
If your vacation involves swimming, remember to swim with a buddy and only in designated areas, preferably when a lifeguard is on duty. Wear sunscreen even when it is cloudy. If your trip includes sports or any recreational activity, be sure to have the right equipment with you, a friend to help you if you get into trouble and alert others about where you plan to be in case you are injured. We wouldn’t want you to have to make the choice Aron Ralston had to make. Plan ahead, and don’t be cocky. Even experts have accidents.
Have a great spring break. We hope to see you back in class safely on March 18.