American college parties and drinking culture

(VOVWORLD) - If you have watched any American movies centered on college life, you probably have seen some crazy parties thrown by American students unsupervised by teachers or parents. Today, on VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous, we’ll talk to Scott Matt, an American living in Hanoi, about American college parties and drinking culture. 

Q: Hello, Scott! Welcome to VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous. Are there really a lot of parties at universities in America?

A: Parties are pretty much synonymous with college. When you think of college, one of the things you picture the most are the parties. Some students pick schools because the school has a really good name, and other students pick what are called “party schools” - schools that they know have really good parties. And that’s why they go there and pay 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 USD a year or more to go to their favorite party school.

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The Princeton Review's 2017 edition of 'The Best 381 Colleges' has named University of Wisconsin-Madison the number one school in America for parties (Photo:

Q: They would pay that much to party? Can you name some “party schools”?

A: Yeah. Party schools are really big schools with a lot of students. It’s more likely that the bigger a school is, the bigger the parties are. Students party at every college of America. I don’t think there is an exception. If you want to have a really big party, you go to a state university like Penn State  or the University of Arizona. You know, there are different types of party schools like Boulder, Colorado, which is up in the mountains, which has, you know, legal marijuana, mountains, skiing, snowboarding, a lot of fun activities.

Q: Is there alcohol at those parties?

A: Absolutely there’s alcohol at college parties, and that’s exactly what I’m gonna be getting into. And, you know, you have a bunch of kids that don’t know anything about alcohol now finishing a whole big bottle of liquor and getting completely wasted. Then they tell their friends: “Hey, I did this!”, and their friends say: “No way, you did that, I want to try!”, which creates the culture where everyone feel really cool because they’re breaking the rules. And they drink, and drink, and drink a lot. In America, you have to be 21 years old to drink.

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A college party in New York City with neon lights, unlimited beers, expensive cocktails, and many more glitters 


Q: You mean they get alcohol when they’re not permitted to do so?

A: To really understand party culture in America, I think you have to understand prohibition culture in America. America tries to control its citizens by choosing what things they are allowed to do and not allowed to do, and by choosing what things they are allowed to consume and not allowed to consume, I mean, drugs and alcohol. And I may add that throughout American history, every time they have tried some form of prohibition, it has been extremely unsuccessful. It has never worked. But they still try it even today.  

Q: Tell us about your first college party, Scott.

A: I went to school in Philadelphia when I was a freshman. The party was so big it would fill a house. And if you were on the first floor, certainly with people on the second floor, you could see the second floor bouncing up and down almost like things were falling down on you. And we would get a couple of kegs, and everyone would be filling beer, filling beer, filling jungle juice in a very large bucket, maybe a 20-liter bucket. And people drink, and drink, and get super drunk. It’s all about drinking. People get extremely drunk.

Q: It seems you’re not interested in those parties any more.

A: I think college parties is a big crazy thing. For a lot of people, it’s their favorite thing about college. Me? I think it’s a little bit of a problem. I think the drinking culture in America is too big, I think it’s not healthy. I think it does not produce good habits. There is a saying that a lot of people follow. It’s called “Work hard play hard”. It means that if you work hard, you should reward yourself by partying hard. I take it differently. I think if you work hard, you should make sure to enjoy your life. Nothing’s wrong with relaxing a little bit, but there’s no time for that.

Q: But you must have attended a few parties like that during your college career. Was there nothing fun about it?

A: Well, it’s not that I don’t like parties. I do like parties. What I don’t like is getting super drunk. I think it’s an unhealthy culture. But there are fun parts, too. There’s a street called Pounce Avenue. I lived on that street for 3 years. Big party street. When I was a freshman there, we would call the cops before we had a party, and we’d say: “Hey, we’re having a party tonight. Don’t come break it up until 1 in the morning”. So we’d agree with the cops for 12 o’clock. The cops would come at 12 o’clock. They would say: “Everyone leave!”. If they wanted to, they could have arrested many of us. They didn’t. They just said: “Everyone leave!”. If you did something stupid, you got arrested. If you’re smoking weed, you got arrested. But if you just got drunk at the party, and you left when they said leave, they could arrest you but they didn’t. They just let you leave.

Q: Thank you, Scott, for talking to us about American college parties and drinking culture. For VOV24/7’s Culture Rendezvous, I’m Thu Ly. Goodbye until next time!