What to expect when you don't drink at university or during Freshers Week

students out together

Off to uni but don't fancy a tipple? Here are some tips for being a non-drinker in a student world

University has a bit of a reputation for heavy drinking, and if you don’t drink much  – or at all – you may feel a bit worried you'll be the odd one out.

But you’re not alone! The TSR community has a lot to say about being teetotal at uni. Here's some of their advice.

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Don't worry yourself about being judged

"I've found uni to be a lot less judgemental than high school," says TSR member PollyParrot23. "No one cares what you wear, who you talk to or if you drink." 

Try not to worry about what other people will think if you're not drinking. Chances are, many of them won't even notice.

"No-one really cares if you drink or not," says TSR member Ivory Toast. "Those who do are too drunk to notice, and those who don't drink a lot are often happy to be around others having fun without needing to be drunk."

If you want to be upfront about it, you can mention to your new friends and flatmates that you don’t drink - this will help avoid the situation of being offered or bought alcoholic drinks, or getting roped into drinks 'rounds'.

But if you don’t fancy getting into your reasons behind not drinking, then don’t!

Once you've spent a bit more time with new friends, you might decide you feel comfortable explaining it to them later on.

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Check out your uni’s non-drinking events

This year, many universities are making Freshers Week into an exclusively virtual event - so drinking will automatically become less of a thing. Take a look at your uni's student union page, which will list all the events that are happening. 

For any in-person events that are happening, you'll often find some that are specifically non-drinking events. Or you might find activities which don’t usually include drinking - such as film nights and sporting activities.

Teetotaler Sherlockedd says: "Our uni caters for non-alcoholic events – during Freshers they had a food crawl alongside the bar crawl!" 

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Join a society - or three!

Don't miss the chance to find out about societies, they're a brilliant way to meet people who are into the same stuff as you. You can pick something you enjoy or maybe start something entirely new. You'll get to have a good time with other people without being constantly surrounded by booze.

"You'll meet people who don't care about whether you drink or not – or perhaps are in the same boat," says TSR member QuentinM.

W1LLG4R agrees. "Even if you don't find new best mates in your halls, the clubs and societies at the Students' Union will help you make friends and you can just be yourself without the pressure of having to go out clubbing. As cliche as it sounds, don't worry about the not-drinking part – you definitely wont be the only one!"

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Accept that some people may be annoying (and ignore them)

Every now and again, you might come across someone who just can't seem to accept that you don’t drink.

It won't happen much, but if it does - just ignore them.

"If someone judges you like that and can’t accept your personal decisions, do you really want to be friends with them?" says Dougieowner. "Don't give into peer pressure or put yourself in uncomfortable situations, and be friends with those who accept you for who you are."

Member laaurenshannon has been there:

"I don't drink much at all, very rarely. However, all of my friends are big drinkers and love going out to clubs, etc. On the occasion when I have joined them, I've gone along to the pub and had one drink or just went and joined in with their conversations or played pool and then left before they went to the clubs.

"The majority of them are alright with this as they know I feel uncomfortable and don't enjoy myself at clubs, but some of my other friends try to pressure me into going along with them. In these cases I just stick to what I want to do – leave and go home." 

As member PollyParrot23 says:

"I don't drink, and I figure if someone were to pressure me over it, they wouldn't be the sort of person I'd want to be friends with anyway.

"The great thing about uni is how diverse it is and you'll find students that drink every night, students that might have a few drinks at weekend or on occasion and those that won't drink at all (for all sorts of reasons be it religion, health or just not liking it)."

There's a vast amount going on at university - and boozy nights are one tiny part of the whole experience. For those who choose not to drink, there's plenty more to enjoy about uni.

Want to find out more about what to expect from Freshers? Check out our Freshers Guide 2020!

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