Going out: what’s the nightlife like at uni?

students socialising

What can you expect from your downtime at uni? Find out here

You’ve probably heard from older friends and siblings that uni is one non-stop party. From endless shots to massive messy club nights and the obligatory post-night out cheesy chips, you might be totally ready to throw yourself into this side of uni life… But equally, you might not be so keen on it – and that’s fine!

The good news is that uni nightlife is way more varied than you probably think, and there’s something for absolutely everyone. To help give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve answered some of the most common questions new students may have.

Is uni really all about drinking?

Whilst it's true that some students do go pretty hard during Freshers Week, it's totally your choice on how you spend your time at uni. You may find that some of your flatmates have a permanent spot propped up at the SU bar, whilst others might be more interested in checking out the library and local museums during their first week. Whatever end of the spectrum you fall, once lectures start you'll find that even the biggest party animals end up chilling out a bit.

If you do want to go clubbing but don’t fancy drinking, it’s also perfectly fine to go along and grab a soft drink - nobody will know the difference, and you’ll wake up feeling a lot fresher the next day. As TSR user Kevin de Bruyne says:

“You just have to try to meet people who either don't drink or don't care if you don't drink - both exist! I have a friend who goes to bars with friends and just drinks coke, which is fine.”

Desktop students socialising coffee shop games
Mobile students socialising pub games

What events do societies offer?

If you’re not a big drinker, one of the perks of joining some societies is that you can maintain a social life that isn’t fuelled by booze. Sure, some societies will put on loads of nights out (looking at you, rugby club), but in general it’s a great way to make friends with similar interests and do some activities you’ll enjoy.

As mollyanne98 says: “Joining clubs and societies can help you to find people that don’t want to spend their time at university

drinking. For example, I joined the business society at uni and they organise events (e.g. social meet ups and talks) and even if they’re just a couple of times a month it helps you get to know new people.”

Your uni will offer a huge number of societies, so whether it’s cheerleading, food, languages, films, video games, travel or something totally different you’re into, it’s worth signing up to a couple to help you meet new people and try some new things.

american football

What else can I do when I'm not studying?

Uni offers you a cheap way to do loads of things you might fancy trying. You could join a gym or exercise class, visit discounted museums or galleries, explore the area outside your uni, attend lectures by high-profile guest speakers, go to society meetups or even try your hand at volunteering - it’ll make you feel good and it can make a nice addition to your CV.

Take some inspo from TSR’s busiest member LizzieTwoShoes: “In my spare time at uni, I go out for lunch

with friends, volunteer at the university, take extra courses like a language, go to events, work my job at the university, go to the cinema, shopping, societies, sports and sometimes day trips around the UK, hosted by my uni.”


Is the nightlife different between campus and city unis?

Generally speaking, at a campus uni most of your nights out will take place on campus at the uni bars and student union. At a city uni, you’ll be more in the middle of the action so will probably venture out to more places. ArtGoblin recommends doing your research upfront for a cheap night out:

“Go to student nights as they tend to be cheaper and find the best drinks offers. Most places will have regular prices on a lot

of drinks but will be selling cheap vodka and pints as well so you can buy these instead. See if there is a guest list on Facebook for the night so you can get in free.”

Whether you’re at a campus or city uni, you’ll mostly end up at student nights - you’ll just need to factor in travel costs there and back if you’re heading into town.

desktop students going out gigs partying at uni

How can I stay safe on nights out?

It’s sometimes easier said than done, but try not to drink too much, and be sure to have plenty of soft drinks to help pace yourself. Stick with your friends and keep your phone on you at all times - a portable charger can be a lifesaver when you’re on 1% and have lost all your flatmates in a club. And make sure you don’t leave any drinks unattended; if in doubt, it’s always better to get a fresh drink than to risk it.

When it comes to getting home, follow jonathanemptage’s

advice: “If you don't know a good taxi company, ask the bouncers as they’ll know the safe ones.”

desktop non drinking events

How can I avoid feeling pressured into going out all the time?

Going out is fun, but you should never feel pressured into drinking or spending money you can't afford. People are generally pretty understanding if you say you have an early lecture in the morning, you’re on a tight deadline or you want to save some money - and your liver will thank you for it! JongKey reckons it’s not worth worrying about:

“You'll have plenty to do during the day and will undoubtedly find other people in the same position. There are a lot more non-drinkers and club-goers than people think so don't worry about it. Not drinking all the time won't hold you back.”

If you don’t like going clubbing at all but still want to be sociable, you can organise some more chilled activities instead - what about a film night with your flatmates, ordering a takeaway, or taking advantage of your student discount at the cinema?

playing board games desktop
mobile students

Is there anything a bit different I can try?

The short answer is yes! If none of the societies appeal to you, why not start your own? You can chat to the student union about setting up your own society, or if you don’t have time to do that, you can always suggest activities for any existing societies you’re a part of. Hannahbal says that the German Society at her uni is particularly interesting:

“German Society does trips to the countryside near language exams where everybody walks and talks in German. Films, trips abroad and museums are all good ideas that they've implemented, and they normally get a German writer in to write or perform a play in the language, which is a good laugh.”

The sky is really the limit here - ever wanted to try roller derby? Dry slope skiing? Pottery painting? Chocolate tasting? Uni is the time to make it happen!

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