I'm an international student planning to apply to Oxford for graduate school. I went to undergraduate school in the south-west of England, and then graduate school in California and have been working since.
I had a horrible time in undergrad because everything revolves around the pub and if you don't drink, you're pretty much an outcast. Plus, I don't really like hanging around pubs and other people who drink. I don't really mind it if people have a pint or two and maintain a sober, intelligent conversation while not looking down at me the whole time because I opted for cranberry juice but I don't want to have to pretend that I enjoy talking to someone who's slurring his/her speech the whole time and not making coherent sentences. Thus, I have very real qualms about coming back to England but I'm hoping that Oxbridge/London would be diverse enough to offer alternatives for the the non-conformists like me. (I know you're probably thinking why I'm even considering coming back if I don't drink, but I'm only doing so because of the quality and good post-graduation job prospects of this particular graduate course.)
So, cutting to the chase, just how well (or not, as the case may be) will I fit in at Oxford? Are there any particular colleges that are more tolerant of non-drinkers? What distractions other than the pub are there to wind down after a hard day's work?
I was wondering that too. I have this image in my head of finally having some fun and new friends at university, but if it's at all like highschool, ...
I don't just not get invited to parties, people actually stop talking to me at all when they find out I don't drink. I know right, who wants to be around those people anyway? But honestly...
I think you will be fine.
The diverse nature of the college grad communities means you will find lots of people who don't associate a good night out with a heavy session in the bar. I know several people who go to the college bar and attend bops and don't drink [alcohol].
Personally, I find bops more bearable when perceived through an alcoholic haze, but there you go...
I think it's inevitable that if you are friends with people who drink and you are very limiting in how much you drink then there will be some margin of outcastedness even if its very minor.
So long as you don't actively look down on other people for drinking, and make it obvious, I've not really known anyone have a problem with that at Oxford. And people who make their disaproval of anything obvious generally meet with some resistance, so it's not unique to the teetotals.
Obviously you're not going to enjoy the clubs around here sober (they are barely tolerable drunk) but there's almost always people hanging around pubs and talking - it's a bit too much to ask for them to limit how much they drink the whole evening, but most people won't get to the point of no return. At least not until very late in the evening. Various societies also have events - most provide some alcohol, but with a couple of exceptions and obvious drink-themed events, it will just be sipped.
Also, the week before rowing events is your friend. (drinking bans, for those who haven't encountered them....)
The comments are encouraging in this thread. Although I'm not tee-total, I do tend to limit my intake more than other people do. (i.e. I can often end up only spending £5 on a night out). So YAY for not being a social outcast. ^^
Maybe we need to start a cranberry juice appreciation society?
I didn't drink when I first started at oxford (oh, how times change) and everyone was really nice about it. No one pressured me, and you can generally find a group of friends who would rather stay in and cook/go to G&Ds/go ice skating/head to the cinema provided your group of friends is diverse enough. I have teetotal friends who just drink squash when they go a pub/college bar, and if you're a grad, you can always claim you have a long cycle or drive home, and therefore don't want to drink if anyone does pressure you.
What are the clubs like in Oxford? Does the Union have daily club nights? Which are the clubs for a blend of pop and dance anthems?
I know a few people who don't drink and they get along fine, people respect it as long as you don't make a big deal out of it.
The clubs are alright although don't compare to ones in bigger cities. The drink offers aren't that great in my experience.
The Bridge- Tues and Thurs- pop, dance, RnB, cheese. Pretty good although in my first year it was rammed on Thursdays, last year is was empty until around after 12.
Filth- Thurs and Friday- Same music as above. Now has a ball pit (or did have) which is a great way to lose things. A genius move by the club.
Lava Ignite- same as above, lots of rooms, good on Wednesday.
Bar Risa- student night on a Friday.
There's a few little clubs for indie/electro (The Cellar is quality, Po Na Na) and a mysterious club (The Coven) which is great. Then there's a few more around, haven't been to Imperial yet.
That ball pool just increases your likelihood of pulling, and generally someone you don't know - I've been in on two occasions, and ended up pinned to the floor by strange men on the pretense of pelting me with balls each time. I also got the more enormous lump on my head when someone knocked me back onto a friend's very bony kneecap. Head blow + alcohol = not pleasant.
OK - I take it back. That doesn't actually sound that fun. It was fairly violent as a child, and now we're talking massively overgrown horny intoxicated children...
Although maybe it's not as bad from a guy's point of view. ^^
It's only pedophile if you're using American spellings. It's paedophile in UK English.
Tbh, you don't generally need a ball pool in freshers week for people to get friendly...