‘You don’t need alcohol to have a good time’

07 Jan 2022

Not a drop of alcohol for one whole month. President of the USR Rizka Simons is taking up this challenge during January. The law student is ambassador of the IkPas Challenge in the region of Nijmegen. ‘Maybe students drink more unseen during the pandemic.’

As ambassador of the IkPas Challenge, Rizka Simons looks at passers-by from sixty billboards in and around Nijmegen. ‘It took some getting used to for me as well,’ says the President of the University Student Council (USR). ‘People often address me about it. It adds some extra pressure to complete all thirty days without alcohol.’

The IrisZorg (healthcare organisation in Nijmegen) asked Simons whether she wanted to take on the personal title of ambassador of IkPas. Simons didn’t need long to come to a decision. ‘I think it’s a fun challenge,’ she says. ‘Students drink a lot of alcohol compared to other groups in our society. Students often come together to have drinks, although that has happened a lot less during the pandemic.’

Withdrawal symptoms

Around 21.000 people take part in IkPas in the Netherlands. For the USR President, this is the first time she is taking on the challenge, together with some other members of the USR. She finds it hard to say how many beers or glasses of wine she consumes in a standard week. ‘It depends. Before the lockdown, I went out two to three times a week. Sometimes I drank six beers, sometimes two, dependent on whether I had classes the next day. I never drink alcohol while alone. That is the case for a lot of students.’

Simons is curious to see what drinking no alcohol will do for her mental and physical health. ‘Whether it will help me sleep or concentrate better, for example.’

‘Instead of alcohol I drank different flavours of tee’

People who sign up for IkPas get a daily mail with some encouragement or more information on alcohol use. Simons: ‘Today’s mail was about withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, shaking, and restless sleeping. Luckily I haven’t encountered these issues.’

The USR President has little trouble with keeping up the challenge. ‘Yesterday I had a great evening with friends,’ she says. ‘Some drank alcohol, some didn’t. Instead of cocktails I drank different flavours of tee. With my participation, I want to show you don’t need alcohol to have a good time.’

Beers or glasses of wine

Whether students drink more during the pandemic, Simons doesn’t know. ‘That differs per student. Some students often go to parties, some don’t. Personally, I drink a lot less now. Maybe students drink more unseen.’

As ambassador Simons hopes to encourage as many students and other residents of Nijmegen to set those beers and glasses of wine to the side for a month. ‘As Nijmegen, we have the biggest group of participants of IkPas.’

Participating in IkPas with the team of Radboud University is possible via this link.

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