University tips

How to survive Freshers Week without drinking

OMG, this time of the year is coming – Freshers’ Week! If you’re about to start university, you’re probably looking forward to the week of fun, parties and meeting new people. And freebies. Don’t forget the freebies (I came out with a pile of pens, Oyster holders, a pencil case, 8GB USB stick and a lot of other stuff) and the Freshers’ Fair, where you can sign up for a million societies whose meetings you’re never going to attend.

However, if you’re one of those people who don’t equate being drunk with good fun, or simply don’t drink, for whatever reason (religion, health, low alcohol tolerance, you name it), you might be dreading Freshers’ a little bit. Will you be able to make friends if everyone else is drinking but you aren’t? Will you be ridiculed, laughed at or get a tag of party pooper?

I understand your worries. Drinking is popular among teenagers who are super excited that they’ve just escaped their parents’ supervision and can do whatever the heck they want. There’s no denying that. But it doesn’t mean everyone around you will be getting absolutely smashed. There are usually over 20,000 student at each UK university, a few thousand of those will be freshers. One thing that I can guarantee you is that you’re not the only non-drinker among a few thousand people. Just statistically impossible.

Personally, I don’t find alcohol exciting, I’m perfectly capable of having loads of fun without it, and if I found out today that I will never have a drink again, I wouldn’t shed a tear. I went all through Freshers on 2 or 3 gin and tonics, but I would have had just as much fun if I stuck to orange juice.

One of the ways to deal with your non-drinking during Freshers is to find other people who don’t drink. There are loads of groups where you can meet your fellow first years – go ahead and ask if there’s anyone who would like to hang out with you without drinking. I’m sure you’ll soon find a group willing to head to the evening parties with you to drink coke. And they will be relieved that they found other fans of sober fun.

To be honest, I’m not sure I would do that, unless I was feeling very strongly against being among people who are drinking. You might be, which is fine, I personally don’t.

My biggest advice is… don’t make a big deal out of the fact you’re not drinking.

Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked what I’m drinking, and if I was, it was probably out of interest about what’s on offer. People really don’t care if you’re drinking white wine or apple juice, as long as they’re enjoying your presence. Most of them won’t even notice you’re not drunk like they are. Or, at most, they will silently admire how strong your head is in comparison to theirs.

samuel dixon .jpg
Photo by Samuel Dixon


If you go around announcing to everyone that you don’t drink, for no good reason, they’re far more likely to think you’re a self-righteous prick and will judge them for the fact they’ve no intention of staying sober. That’s when they’re likely to not want to hang out with you. Not because you’re not drinking. But because you’re making a big deal out of it.

If you do get asked what you’re drinking, and after you reply that it’s just straight coke someone asks you why it’s not alcohol, just tell them. If you don’t drink for a religious or health reason, admit it. If you don’t like the taste of alcohol? That’s fine too. So is simply not being in the mood to drink.

Then show them that you can have loads of fun sober.

As George from Masterchef Australia says, Boom Boom, shake the room!

Header photo by Yutacar

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