The number one thing I wish I'd had a heads up on ahead of time.
The college I attended for my undergrad was fraternity/sorority free, but there was still PLENTY of booze. Trust me. My friends and I drank. A lot. I'd seen keg stands, power hours and just about every other bit of asinine drinking tomfoolery standard to the American college experience.
Then I went out, got a job (I did grad school while working, the beauty of mostly online classes!) and found out that, as I'd often suspected, people in the real world didn't start off the evening by doing shots. Since I had never been a huge fan of the binge drinking I'd encountered in college, it was easy to adjust my expectations to a glass of wine with dinner and cocktails on Friday nights.
Einstein was not a drinker. While he would occasionally drink a beer or have a rum and coke with something, he found my fondness for vodka tonics strange to say the least. (Although my love of peppermint schnapps was easier to understand, apparently!) So when we married, I assumed my life would continue on much as it had in my new grown-up world, with the occasional glass of wine, and a bottle of rum lasting months while gathering dust in my cupboard.
And then we arrived at pilot training.
I will spare you the urban legends about various forms of liquor, bar rules and other idiocy I've encountered. Suffice it to say, I have now attended "mandatory fun" parties where people did shots until everyone was absolutely falling down drunk. No event is complete- or even started- without liquor. And I don't just mean a bbq with some cold brewskies. I mean out and out, frat boy, "Animal House" style, shots until you puke drinking.
**Quick note: I have NEVER seen anyone FORCED to drink. I know a lot of people who are non-drinkers are often worried that they will be forced to drink. On the contrary, the people I know who do not drink (mostly for religious reasons) are never given guff about not drinking. They are often in the unenviable position of being sober around a bunch of drunk people, but that's another story...
So yeah. I was surprised, to say the least. I wish I had known ahead of time, not so much because I am anti-drinking, but because it is so central to the culture. It was a huge shock the first time I walked into an Assignment Night and saw the hordes of drunks in flight suits. Also, I should have included WAY more money in our budget for liquor, especially since there are a number of flights in the syllabus where it is customary to buy your Instructor Pilot a bottle of their favorite liquor.
Oooh, and there is definitely a wife=DD frame of mind. I cannot tell you the number of Fridays I have driven back on base with a car full of drunk LTs. The gate guards are usually hugely sympathetic when I fork over a handful of LT ID's with my dependent one. I even get the occasional "good luck Ma'am" when they are being especially rowdy. And Einstein's class is considered to be tame and practically anti-partying, compared to the norm!
But yeah. I now negotiate nights off of DDing, because hey, I'm planning (at some point) to give up drinking entirely for pregnancy and breastfeeding, so I figure I deserve a few nights off of DD duty now!