If you don't drink, the tales of drinking games, downing shots and waking up with a killer hangover during freshers’ week are likely to fill you with dread.
However, you might be surprised to learn that you’re not alone - in fact, the Guardian reported in 2017 that more than a quarter of 16 to 24 year olds don't drink.
I’ve recently arrived at the end of my first year of university, and the end of my first year of being almost entirely teetotal (a combination you will rarely hear in the same sentence).
So here’s my advice on how to survive freshers’ week, and university life in general, booze-free.
Although it might be on your mind that you’re one of the only people not drinking, it won’t be the elephant in the room that you think it will be. Most people won’t notice that you aren't drinking, especially once they’ve had a few drinks.
If someone offers you a drink, it’s normally quite easy to decline by saying that you’ve just had one or that you’ll have one later. You could even carry around a cup with water or a soft drink that people will presume is alcohol, if you want to avoid any questions about it.
I understand this might not be as easy as it sounds. But getting involved in any games at pre-drinks and going on a few nights out will make a good impression on the people you meet and show that you can have fun without drinking.
Just switch the alcohol for a soft drink you like.
If you feel comfortable doing it, explain why you don't drink to your friends and flatmates. It’ll help them understand and stop them nagging you to ‘just have one drink’!
When I explained to my friends that I don't drink because it makes my anxiety worse, they were so understanding and reassured me that it doesn't bother them at all that I don't drink.
One of the perks of not drinking is that you can go out and still be able to function properly the next day! Why not use your hangover-free mornings to get to know your university town or city, go to a gym class, do some yoga, or even treat yourself to brunch with the money that you save from not drinking?
Although you might think everyone makes friends on booze-fuelled nights out, I’d argue you make your real friends through bonding when sober. Arrange to meet people for lunch or coffee or to do an activity together.
I bonded with my friends more during our sober movie night at the end of freshers’ than during any night out, and we still make sure to do fun things that don't involve alcohol. We recently went ice skating together, for example.
Ultimately, just be true to yourself and if anyone tries to pressure you into drinking then they don't deserve to be your friend anyway! You will find other people who don't drink and even those who do will often drink less as the term goes on.
Although a lot of the hype surrounding freshers’ week is about alcohol, university life is so much more than that and you definitely don't need alcohol to have fun, make friends, and get the best out of your university experience.