Face it, in the first few days of college, everyone is a friend, and everyone is a stranger. You may find yourself with a gaggle of girls and guys to make up your party train, but you don’t know who among them drinks like a fish, makes inappropriate moves after 2 drinks, and who is bound to spend the night in jail. Until you do, follow these tips for partying with strangers. Most of this advice should probably be followed in any drinking situation away from home.

Keep Your Wits About You

You’ve got so many hundreds of days to get schmashed, schwasted, hammered, obliterated, and ridonkulous, so you can set a few drink limits for your first weekend. You’ll be drunk on new friends and new freedoms anyway, so it won’t be that hard. Set a drink limit and stick to it. It’s okay to get a little drunk, but observe the behaviors of your fellow party train passengers to know whom you can rely on, and who needs a babysitter. A little responsibility for the first few nights can make a big difference.

Buddy System

It sounds juvenile, but if you’re starting out at a new school, you should definitely have some form of the buddy system. It’s easy to get lost among the throngs of people at college parties, so ensuring that you have a friend to look out for you can help you avoid common party dangers.

Watch Your Cup

Keep your friends close and your drinks closer. That should be any college student’s mantra for partying on and off campus. This tips is especially for the girls, but drugs are slipped into guys’ drinks as well. Keep your drink in your hand at all times, and when walking through a crowd, cover it with your other hand, or hold it high above everyone’s heads. It’s common for guys to go get drinks from the coolers and kegs and hand them off to the girls, but unless there are unopened cans of beer available, you should always get your own drink. Plus, girls get served faster anyway.

Know Your Way Home

Some college campuses are tiny, and tucked safely away in a small town, while others are massive universities in the middle of a bustling city. In both situations, you need to know where you are, and how to get home. Hopefully you party close enough that you don’t have to worry about a designated driver, but walking home alone is never a good idea. Make sure you have numbers of a few local cab companies and some extra cash, just in case you get separated from your friends. Many college campuses have transportation vans and buses, colloquially dubbed, “drunk buses.” Find out if your school has one, and put that number in your speed dial. As a last resort, contact a friend or sibling who didn’t party with you that night, and talk to them while you wait for your ride. Cell phones can save lives.

Eat Before Your Drink

Ever wonder why you can drink a bottle of wine with dinner and feel a slight buzz, but a mimosa before breakfast can leave you feeling hammered? The myth is true: food slows down your body’s absorption of alcohol. Plenty of students make the mistake of skipping dinner before partying as a way of offsetting calories, but alcohol on an empty stomach is a deadly combination. Try to eat high protein foods like meat and dairy before you drink, so the alcohol doesn’t sneak up on you an hour into the night. This way you can also party into the early morning without worshiping the porcelain god all day.