University is not only place for learning and academics – it is also a place to meet new people, discover yourself and in general a bit of partying. For some first years, it is their new found taste of “freedom” – that could easily lead to some unsafe partying habits.

Here’s some tips for the first-years (and others who need a refresher) on how to have a good time but to also stay safe while partying:

Make use of a “Buddy System”

Always go to parties with at least one friend so that you know you can make use of the  buddy system. If you are going to separate, tell your friend(s) where you are going and arrange a time and place to meet up again.This means that you’ve got each other’s back and would know if something bad has happened to someone not showing arranged meeting place.

Make use of a “Safe Word”

Ladies – have you ever been out partying somewhere and you had a creep hitting on you repeatedly, although you have told him more than once that you are not interested? When in a situation like this, good to have a “safe word” – that you use to communicate with your friends that you would like to get out a creepy situation. For example: Vodka

“Do you want to get another Vodka, lime and soda?”

Watch What You Drink

While the legal drinking age in South Africa is 18, pretty much every varsity has alcohol at parties that students organise. Remember that if you are under age and drinking, there can be some serious legal and sometimes school consequences to getting caught drinking. Nonetheless, if you are going to drink – please do so responsibly. That means knowing when to stop, so that you don’t end up throwing up all night (gross!) or passing out.

Drinking responsibly also means having a designated driver or cash on hand for a taxi. If you are going to drink, be sure to stay hydrated (alcohol dehydrates you) and eat a big meal beforehand so that alcohol doesn’t hit you so quickly.

And above all else – pace yourself. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and feel pressured in to drink way too much but stick to your guns on this one. Your body will thank you when you aren’t puking for hours on end, blacking out, suffering from an intense hangover headache, or getting alcohol poisoning (which does kill!)

Keep an eye on your drink

Never accept drinks from a stranger or put your drink down and always fover the top of the cup with your hand. It is so easy to slip the date rape drug (also known as Flunitrazepam) into your drink if you are not paying attention. The drug is odorless, colorless, and tasteless – which means that if your drink has been spiked you would not even know it!

Trust Your Instincts

If you feel uncomfortable or scared or nervous in any way when attending a party, turn around and head into the opposite direction. Your instints are usually a good indicator to tell you whether the situation you are in is OK or NOT.  So TRUST your instincts!