Studying abroad is all about meeting new people, traveling, finding your independence, experiencing new cultures, and drinking. Lots and lots of drinking. Sure, I could come on here and preach about the evils of alcohol and its surplus of calories, but let’s be realistic. Drinking is fun and a lot of what you’ll do abroad is going to revolve around it. Whether it’s wine tasting, watching a “football” game at a bar, or RaGiNg at the club, you’re likely to have an adult beverage (or more, if you’re really serious about this studying abroad thing) in hand. So, if you’re going to drink, which you are, do it right.

Different types of liquor (vodka, tequila, whiskey, rum, etc.) of the same proof have the same amount of calories. The kicker when it comes to  mixed drinks, then, is the mixer. Mixed drinks with regular soda and juices can have well over 120 calories per 5 oz. drink. Now, multiply that by how many mixed drinks you have in a night, and bury your head in shame. If you have to have a soft drink as your mixer, go for the diet version to save calories. Yeah, sodas aren’t good for you, but neither is staying up until 5 a.m. pounding vodka crans. Why pick your poison when you can have them all? Other good mixer choices are club soda and diet tonic water. Did you know regular tonic has 50 calories per 5 oz? I didn’t. And the teacher becomes the student, huzzah! Avoid all liqueurs, which have about 100 calories per ounce. Don’t forget, you can always opt to go on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Only go this route if you can take a sip without making that hideous face. Yeah, that one…

If you’re going abroad, you’re probably a pretty sophisticated person. This means you’ll be drinking a lot of wine, because that’s what sophisticated people do. When drinking wine, first ensure that there’s a camera around to capture your moment(s) of cultural grandeur, and then, make choices that won’t obliterate your slenderhood. Most wines (and champagne/cava) have about 20 calories per ounce, or 100 calories per 5-oz glass. Sherry, that sickly sweet dessert wine, has 32 calories per ounce. It also rots your teeth upon contact, so you should probably just avoid it. Depending on the recipe, sangria can consist of wine with juice, ginger ale, sugar, liqueurs, and other ingredients that can add tons of calories to your glass. Since you probably won’t know what exactly is in your sangria, don’t go crazy with the stuff. If you have to have it, have a glass and then move on to wine or, of course, water. But where’s the fun in that?

A general rule of thumb for choosing a beer is the lighter the color, the fewer the calories. Remember, fewer calories also means less alcohol. Alcohol is a nutrient in that it provides calories (7 per gram, to be exact), but not much else. Your goals for your night out (casual sipping versus getting shmammered) will determine the beer you choose. If you don’t care about getting drunk but want a beer, go for what has the least calories– Bud Select 55, Beck’s Premier Light, MGD 64, Amstel Light,  Heineken Light, and others. If you’re trying to get drunk, look for what has the lowest calorie to alcohol ratio, Natty Ice, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, Keystone Ice (it all makes sense now…), Corona Light, and others. Use the link above to check out what you have available to you.

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