The Beginner’s Guide to Surviving Commencement

Isabel Hulkower, Columnist

As the year comes to a close, we are now officially entering the “final stretch.” It’s a glorious time during which long-harbored inhibi­tions are lowered, and we collectively indulge in a little debauchery. However, enjoying this well-deserved revelry does not necessarily have to take a noxious toll on your physical health. Below are some tips to ensure that the party lifestyle you may adopt before and after reading period doesn’t get the better of you.

One classic hallmark of springtime on college campuses is an in­flux of day drinking. Consuming alcohol in the morning is a tough game, and although it may seem like a super great idea at the time, it invariably leads to crankiness and a late afternoon nap that may derail your evening plans. If you’re really set on drinking during the early hours of the day, pace yourself. Stick to beer or other less-con­centrated alcohol options and avoid shots of hard liquor. Keep a close eye on how drunk you are — day drinking is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you have the choice, opt for light-colored liquors such as vodka or tequila. They contain fewer congeners (the compounds other than water and alcohol present during the distilling process), which are potentially toxic and contribute to you feeling crummy after a fun day with your friends. Mixed drinks are also fine, but going for real soda over the diet version as a mixer is a better call. Sugar slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, which means diet soda will give you a higher blood-alcohol level.

It’s also vital to keep on top of your body’s other needs. Starting the day with a balanced breakfast could be the difference between making it all night or calling it quits before dinnertime. Yogurt, eggs, toast and cereal are a few things you might want to consider getting into your stomach before you party. Similarly, staying hydrated is of paramount importance. It’s easy to forget to drink water in between all the Pabst Blue Ribbon and margaritas, but drinking a glass of wa­ter with every alcoholic beverage you consume goes a long way to­ward ensuring that you have a safe dehydration-free day.

The most important thing to consider while day drinking is when to call it quits. Trying to party all night after a full day of mojitos in the kiddie pool or sunbathing in the grass is asking a lot of yourself. Just enjoy your day drunk without expecting to extend it indefinitely.

On another note, make sure to adequately protect yourself from the sun! Alcohol metabolizes into the compound acetaldehyde, which may cause the body to be even more vulnerable to UV rays. Lathering yourself with sunblock or having a cool hat available could be the difference between having a fun time and turning into a lobster.

For graduating seniors and others who plan to stick around for Commencement, the week leading up to graduation will surely in­clude a fair number of hangovers. Dehydration plays a big part in severe hangovers, so drink tons of water and sports drinks to help replenish electrolytes.

Other precautions include eating a fatty meal before drinking. Burgers and other greasy foods will coat your stomach lining and slow the absorption of alcohol, leading to an easier transition back to sobriety. But beware, this is only advisable before drinking alcohol — eating greasy foods the morning after drinking will only exacerbate your hangover. Additionally, prickly pear extract has proven to be ex­tremely effective if eaten in up to five hours before drinking, beating a placebo and reducing your risk of a severe hangover by 62 percent. Lastly, cigarettes are another hazard to a safe, successful day-drinking experience. Studies have shown that cigarettes increase the severity of hangover symptoms in college students.

The only real way to avoid hangovers is to not drink at all, but if you find yourself facing an abundance of alcohol on a beautiful day, then hey, you’re only human. Whatever you end up doing, and how­ever much you end up drinking, it’s important to monitor how you’re feeling and stop what you’re doing immediately if you start feeling sick.

Enjoying Commencement does not have to involve over-indulg­ing in booze — or indulgence at all, for that matter. The whole point of Commencement week is to relax and have fun. If alcohol is going to be an integral part of your week, take care of yourself and have fun responsibly. Party on, Oberlin.