Fresher’s week – what if I don’t drink?

Drinking during Fresher';s week

By Nicole Correia,

Looking at Fresher’s week photos on Facebook can be exciting; if you enjoy an alcoholic beverage. If you don’t it can quite easily taint your idea of starting university. It may feel as if “non-alcoholic” fun is taboo now that you’ve started university but that is definitely a misconception. No-one goes to university for the booze. If you’re smirking right now, thinking you know a few who would, be reassured that they won’t make it far into the first year with those types of aspirations or ideas. There’s nothing adult about drinking, nor is there anything adult about not drinking - the decision is personal and is something that differs and varies more than Facebook or others let on. With this in mind, theunipod spoke to several students who opted for soft drinks throughout their Fresher’s week and time at university to prove that you don’t have to drink to enjoy Fresher life.

Tana, a second year student from Southampton University does not drink alcohol due to her religious choices and beliefs. She told theunipod that she had to thus choose her Fresher’s events carefully, to avoid a situation she wasn’t comfortable with: “I chose balls with three course meals and a specific dress code; despite not drinking I enjoy dressing up and socialising. There are also plenty of socials that aren’t anything to do with drinking. You just have to remember that and actually go and enjoy them!” After speaking a little more about Tana’s first year at Southampton it soon became clear that she found friends with similar ideas towards socials, alcohol and university, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Yashita, who studies English and American Studies at the University of Birmingham, has fond memories of Fresher’s week too. Yashita enjoys a drink now and then but doesn’t really understand the obsession with getting drunk every night, yet insists that Fresher’s week was one of her favourite weeks of the year. “My memories of Fresher's week are not getting drunk and passing out. I understand that for many moving away from prying parents is a reason to celebrate but, even for the best of party animals, spending every night dancing in a drunken stupor will eventually prove to be very tiresome and costly. Hello movie nights! My favourite memories of Fresher's week are of spending cosy nights in, getting to know my flatmates better and inviting the new neighbours over for tea and cakes.’ It makes sense that you get to know your flatmates better by talking and spending time with them, rather than competing to drink them under the table - the only think you truly learn there is how drunk you can get and who is the guzzler of the group!”

Nick didn’t go to uni, but spent many of his weekends visiting his friends at university during Fresher’s week and term time without having an alcoholic beverage, but still managing to have an amazing time. We asked him why he made the decision not to drink and his answer was simple - he didn’t want to get out of control and end up throwing up! Nodding along with him we listened to his experiences and to see if peer pressure made him give in at any time, or doubt his decision: “Many think that the lack of alcohol would lead to a crappy night, however, I've had some of the best nights out at universities by not drinking

"The irony is that I have friends who can't enjoy themselves on a night out without drinking.” Rather honestly he told us that there were times when peer pressure crept in, especially at a pre- drinks session: “Friends nagging and harassing to me drink wasn’t great, but when people realise I don't want too, the peer pressure calms down and the night goes on. Not drinking has benefits as conversations can be started more easily with a sober head, and the chat can stay at a good level.”

It is clear that drinking isn’t the be all and end all of Fresher’s week. Sometimes sticking to your guns and not being persuaded is difficult but in doing so you gain not only self-control and self-respect but you also exercise your ability to socialise properly, without the aid of alcohol, meaning that it is likely your relationships will start a little more honestly. Whatever your decision may be it is important to feel comfortable during your first week at university and to only enjoy activities and events that you like and want to. Make friends with people on the same page as you and you’ll feel settled and happy, even without the buzz of an alcoholic drink.