How to Survive Freshers when you Don't Drink
So when I started university, I was on a lot of medication and also being a recovering alcoholic I had vowed not to drink. Logically it wasn't good because it would mess my medication up and also I knew that I was not a nice drunk. Turning up on my first day, I was the second person to move in and already the fridge was full of flatmate number ones alcohol, like seriously how much alcohol does one person need. They seemed to have more alcohol in their fridge, cupboard and bedroom than food, clothes and any other form of belongings put together. Now I have nothing against those who drink as long as their drinking doesn't kill my fun when they have taken it too far and have to stumble home at 11pm because they can't get into a club because they're too drunk. So if you don't drink and it's freshers week but you still want to get out and make friends, these are my tips for how to survive freshers week.
1. Don’t feel like because you don’t drink, you shouldn’t get involved
When I got my Freshers guide, I was glad to see there was drinking and non-drinking events which made me feel at ease but ultimately I knew I would end up going to a few of both. Being fairly confident I had no issue making an idiot of myself at karaoke without having to down a shot or two but there were events I was worried about going to without drinking. Freshers welcome party and Pounded were events where shots and alcohol was cheap (£1 a shot in some cases) and it is extremely tempting to either go and get drunk or if you're a long time drink avoider, not go at all. It is still possible to go out and enjoy yourself without the addition of alcohol. Just because you're not drinking doesn't mean you can escape the excitement in the atmosphere and the chance of meeting new people. Pre-drinks alone was interesting, whilst I didn't drink it was great dong my hair, make up and discussing what to wear with the other girls whilst having a sing a long and a bit of a dance before we left. Alcohol isn't a substitute for personality, even if you're shy there is still a lot of events and societies get togethers that allow you to meet people.
2. Tell your flat mates that you don’t drink...
One of the first things that I made sure that my flatmates knew about me was that a) I don’t drink, don't smoke, don't take any drugs b) i'd rather not be arrested during university so generally I don't do anything illegal (except occasionally stream a movie online) and c) I worked and so even though I would go out, it would be weekends only or only to early events during the week. My flat mates obviously were shocked that I didn't drink or smoke but after the first day or so of trying to urge me to drink, I explained why I no longer drank and also spoke to them about my health issues and medication (it was important at least one knew in case of emergencies) and they were understanding and alcohol helped me look up some cocktails and stuff with no alcohol in to make my drinking experience more interesting than coke and Fanta. They now respected the fact that I don’t drink, and they never, ever try and force me to drink, or call me boring. One girl in my flat actually joined me and supported me after freshers, mainly because she missed two weeks of lectures and almost got kicked out and realised that party time needed to settle down but it was nice to have a bit of support and a friend to try new virgin cocktails with.
3. Get involved with societies – not everything involves alcohol!
Getting involved with societies is the best way to meet people during freshers without drinking. Whilst most do have an element of drinking, sports societies have many serious health fanatics who won't drink, quieter societies will have the odd introvert who will happily chill and meet new people without the need to party and other societies have events that don't allow alcohol so that lots of people will join. There is so much that you can do and get involved with, and it’s a great way to bond with your flat mates and meet friends, without feeling any pressure to drink. In my freshers week, I went to speed friending which was a non-drinking event, karaoke (most were drunk but for those who didn't drink perfect time to film or remember what happened to those who did) and also theres lots of taster sessions that I went to. Although I can say after one taster of pole fitness, I did not go back because I learnt I had no strength at all.
4. Encourage your flat to a chill night
So my flat mates were full on drinkers and went out most nights but we decided it was getting too much. So Tuesday nights we would go to quiz night, then go back to the flat, use bin bags to black out our kitchen windows and use a projector and screen (we had a film student in our flat but most universities let you borrow from media or library) and we had a cinema night in out flat. It eventually became quite popular with multiple other flats joining us and about 30 people squeezing into our tiny kitchen but it was an alcohol free event and we all sat with our popcorn and treats watching various films. We agreed to 10 films that we could all stand or wanted to watch and picked one out of the hat each week so we all got something we enjoyed.
5. Just be yourself
Most people drink during freshers because it's the known thing, it's tradition but if you ask people what they get out of drinking, it's normally a headache and a bit of confidence. Just be you. No amount of alcohol and give you a personality and honestly, it's a waste of time pretending to be someone else as it gets hard carrying that on for a year.
So, there’s my little tips to make sure that you’re not feeling worried about coming to university completely teetotal. Further into term and the year, the drinking slows down and people start studying but whilst they figure out how to enjoy themselves sober, you will already know how and also be ahead of the game as you wouldn't have missed any lectures recovering from those alcohol fuelled nights.