An Alcohol- & Clubbing-free “Uni Experience”
Let me start by saying that no two experiences of university are the same. The idea that there is a singular “uni experience” defined by living in shared accommodation (of questionable cleanliness), partying and getting very drunk, making loads of friends, and always being behind with studies likewise does not apply to every student. This experience also shouldn’t pressure anyone into feeling that they have to live by these circumstances to enjoy university.
The reality is that many of these traditional, quintessential rites of passage can play a big role in making you feel part of your student community and, thus, more at home at university. And as someone who experienced largely none of them, trust me, I understand that it can sometimes feel like you are isolated.
But, no fear! I am here to provide all my tips and tricks on how to make the most of your university experience whilst staying teetotal and away from the club scene. Whether it is for religious or health reasons, or just a change of lifestyle, many students look for alternative forms of the “uni experience”; party and drinking culture can get intense when integrated in societies and sports clubs as well as just your usual club nights, so don’t think you’re alone!
- Join the societies that cater to you
Despite the dominant narrative, there are many societies on campus that will hold events where drinking is not involved or, at the very least, optional. Just from the societies which I have previously joined, like Warwick STAR (Student Action for Refugees), PakSoc, and Daughters of the East, I can assure you that many societies aim to target a wide student base and want to offer their opportunities to the largest crowds possible. So, make sure to properly explore the societies available to you and the kind of events they hold, for example at societies fairs or on their social media; you’ll be surprised by how many are considerate of non-alcohol drinkers and -partygoers.
And even if you’ve seen a group, perhaps quite renowned for their crazy night-outs, that you are really interested in joining, they will (nearly) always have a number of sober events throughout the year where you can enjoy without the alcohol and partying. So, when the chance to attend a sober social that interests you comes up, take it!
Also, if you don’t drink for religious reasons, think about joining your religious society on campus (e.g. at Warwick, Islamic Society, Jewish Society, etc). Not only will you be more likely to feel more comfortable and at home at their events, but they will also allow you to meet like-minded people who are in the same boat as you. You can also then plan to meet up and host your own parties (without alcohol and clubbing, of course), creating a welcoming environment for all!
- Take initiative
Something that I have discovered this year – note, in my fourth and final year – is that you often need to take the extra initiative when it comes to making friends and socialising when you are not someone who drinks and goes clubbing with large groups of people. If you find someone you get on with, whether in your classes or through extra-curricular activities, make sure to take their Instagram, number, or whatever you prefer, and suggest to meet up another time. Honestly, meeting up for a coffee, for however long it may be, can give you a great idea of what the person is like and you could end up staying in touch with them for a long time after! At the end of the day, you don’t want to leave university and regret not having tried.
- Appreciate the time you have alone
My final point, whilst I appreciate that it may not be for everyone, is just to try and appreciate the time you have for yourself. No one said that you have to be surrounded by people 24/7. Often, if you are frequently around people, for example if you are studying a course with many contact hours, you may be in need of a little break to rejuvenate your mind and body. Don’t feel pressured that you have to have someone to do things with at all times of the day. Go for a fresh walk, treat yourself to a coffee, have a solo movie night, and just enjoy!
I understand how difficult it can be to adjust to someplace where drinking culture is so apparently mainstream, especially since I am still learning about how to overcome the obstacles myself. But, I can assure you that you can find your people and have a good university experience without having to compromise your lifestyle for the purposes of “fitting in.”