SEATTLE, Oct. 13 (UPI) — For some U.S. college students studying abroad is less about improving language skills and more like a prolonged spring break, researchers say.
Eric Pedersen, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, says the consequences of drinking while studying abroad can be mild, such as missed classes, or more severe, such as fights, injuries and regrettable sexual experiences.
“We hear stories in the media and elsewhere about students going abroad, drinking too much and getting into trouble,” Pedersen says in a statement. “But no one has ever measured this risky drinking behavior and there are no published studies of prevention strategies before they go abroad.”
The researchers surveyed 177 participants who spent time abroad for three to five months.
The study, published in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, reports students doubled how much they drank while they were abroad, increasing their consumption from about four alcoholic drinks per week at home to about eight drinks per week while they were abroad.
“We can’t really say if this is risky drinking or not,” Pedersen says. “This could be a drink a night — a glass of wine at dinner — over the course of a week.”
Or, they could be binge drinking, Pedersen says.
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