Drinking doesn’t make a good night

There’s more to do for fun in Grand Forks than drink.


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Given the reputation UND has for its students’ tendency to party hard, it’s difficult to imagine students doing much else for fun.

But that assumption couldn’t be more wrong.

Comparing my experiences drinking with those alcohol-free has solidified my belief in one thing: It is entirely possible to have fun without getting wasted.

There are so many ways to entertain yourself over the weekend in Grand Forks, but it seems UND students often forget that.

I’m not a big fan of partying. I don’t think it benefits relationships or socialization one bit. The way you may have been acting while you were drunk one night — if you remember it — wouldn’t be the way you normally socialize with people. So what’s the point?

I am, however, a big fan of the tons of other ways college students can have fun without being worried about running into the cops, getting slapped with fines or racking up minors.

During high school, I didn’t have any experience with the drinking scene — I was involved with too many activities to risk it. But after coming to UND, I inevitably was able to view the party scene in all its full-fledged glory.

I didn’t have as many friends last year as I do now, or maybe I just had the wrong kind, because I soon began to feel like the only time I was accepted or considered interesting was when I was at a party.

Deep down, I knew that was a load of bull, but I didn’t know what to do. Luckily, this year I got a bit smarter and found friends of value. They reminded me that there were still people at UND like me: Nerdy, safe and responsible, but still fun and immature at times. I could be myself around them. And isn’t that what great friendships are supposed to be about?

Since I’ve found these friends, we’ve had some pretty great times together. We’ve gone places and done things that didn’t involve the overconsumption of alcohol that seems to be popular around these parts. And guess what? We still had a great time.

On several occasions, we’ve gone out to eat or had a game or movie night. You might be thinking these are a bit “been there, done that,” but isn’t it usually the simplest things that make the greatest memories? Sometimes it’s fun to just grab a group of girls or some buddies and dine out — even if it’s just for a quality vent session or to indulge in some deliciously different cuisine. Movie or game nights are great too because you don’t even have to get ready or go anywhere. It’s just a comfy social time in your sweats. Don’t pretend you don’t love how that sounds.

These ideas aren’t too expensive either. But if you’re willing to shell out a bit more, there’s places for that too. The Northern Air Family Fun Center — which most of you probably know as the huge trampoline place off 32nd Ave. — seems like a great place to check out. I’ve been wanting to check it out for some time. I know it says “family” in the title, but you can’t honestly tell me it wouldn’t be awesome to bounce around on trampolines with your friends for a night.

If you’re looking for something more low key, I suggest bowling. Because no matter how awful you are at bowling, it’s always more fun than you had originally planned.

Earlier this semester, I did a number of these partying alternatives. One Friday night near Halloween, I went to Paradiso for a friend’s birthday. I’m such a sucker for Mexican food, but it would’ve been a good time either way. That Saturday night, my friends and I went through the Terror at 2700 haunted house and then went bowling and got ice cream after. Different seasons make for different activities, and haunted houses are by far one of my favorites.

While we were bowling, we did a little competition between teams just to mix it up. I couldn’t even tell you which team was worse, but I can say that I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.

Some of the best times I’ve had haven’t involved a single drop of booze. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you can have a great time without alcohol. It’s safer, smarter, cheaper and, quite frankly, a lot more fun.

Mary Ochs is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].

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