By Rachel Ireland (Contributor)
One of the most pervasive stereotypes about university students is that they like to drink. A lot. This can make starting university seem intimidating for new students who don’t drink for religious or personal reasons.
“Fresher’s Week” is a time when the majority of new students are on campus together; clubs and bars use it as a time to put on promotions (with plenty of cheap alcohol). If you don’t like going to clubs and bars, or you don’t drink, it is easy to feel isolated from other students and that there are no options that don’t involve drinking. That is simply not the case.
The university offers a range of different ways for students to meet new people that do not involve drinking alcohol or going to nightclubs. The Gown has compiled a list of a few non-alcoholic activities that will allow you to get away from studying and experience the social side of university.
Some departments will hold events organised by the peer mentors (older students who will help you get through your first year). These are a great way to get to know the people you will spend the next three or four years studying with. Bowling, movie nights or even a treasure hunt around campus are just some of the events peer mentors organise for new students.
Devon Faulkner, a peer mentor from the school of sociology, said, “There are events such as a non-alcoholic bar night where we get together with students that don’t drink and have a cocktail night – where we can show them cocktails that can be made and enjoyed in bars that don’t have alcohol in them – because many students think that if they don’t drink then they shouldn’t go to bars and hang out”.
Fresher’s week is also an excellent time to get to know your way around the campus, so find a friend and a map, and explore the university. This is a good way to find where your classes will be held, and also quiet study spots or a place to eat lunch.
If you are worried about opportunities to meet with friends or make new ones, you can try the clubs and societies fair. Joining a club or society gives you more options for activities that don’t involve going out and drinking. You could take up a sport or try your hand at something completely new, and you’ll get a chance to meet new people while you do so. The Fresher’s Fair is the prime place to join clubs and societies that are of interest to you.
Nathan Thiruvengadam is a second year English student that does not drink. When he was asked if not drinking during Fresher’s week was challenging he said, “Being a non – drinker is perhaps a different experience to what the perceived view of Fresher’s is. However, I did embrace, and thoroughly enjoy, the aspect of going out during Fresher’s and felt under no pressure to drink. Furthermore, one must remember that Fresher’s is not confined to bars and nightclubs as there are a host of other activities to partake in such as the Fresher’s Fair as well as movie nights, quizzes etc. organised by the peer mentors of each school and/or Elms.”
Whether you decide to drink alcohol at university or you wish to stay clear of it, there is plenty to do around campus that allows you to make the most of your student experience. Whatever your stance with alcohol may be, enjoy your time at freshers and be safe.