Tips for Navigating Through Freshers Week & Uni as Someone Who Doesn't Drink

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With rates of alcohol consumption falling amongst 16-24 year olds, heading off to university isn’t quite the same as it once was in terms of the peer pressure to drink loads and often. Despite this, there will still be some anxiety amongst students who don’t drink alcohol at all. The whole idea of a Freshers week in particular has been built around the idea of a week of fun and drinking before the responsibilities are done. This is a little unfair though, as in reality there are a whole host of non-alcohol-oriented activities and things to do during your first week in university. Here are some freshers week tips for those of you who don’t drink alcohol.

There has been a general decline in the consumption of alcohol in older people too, especially since the lockdown ended, with a higher percentage of people cutting down their drinking, cutting it out completely, or never drinking and living a teetotal life from their teens onwards. In the past, there was a lot of pressure at university to take part in drinking games, to down any shot that was put in front of you, and to learn how to live with the worst hangovers imaginable. If you didn’t drink, it would be easy to think that you’re missing out, that you’re the odd one of the new group, and an outsider, but this just isn’t the case. Here are some freshers week tips to help you settle into uni life as a non-drinker.

Not drinking is never that obvious

People having fun in a beer garden

Even if you do decide to go on a night out where there is a lot of drinking happening around you, do not worry as not drinking is not as obvious as you might think. Also, no one really cares. There is a good possibility that you won’t be the only one not drinking in the room, and if someone offers you a drink, politely decline or ask for a soft drink. In fact, the act of holding a glass with a non-alcoholic beverage is pretty much what matters – so stay hydrated and raise your glass for a cheers anyways.

Don’t be pressured into drinking

two young women holding alcoolic Breezer drinks and having fun

Whether you have never had an alcoholic drink, you are cutting down, or don’t want to drink on a particular night, the choice is always yours. If a person tries to force you to drink alcohol or make you feel weird for not wanting to, that person is not worth having around. There is no pressure on you to drink or to explain yourself (although if you feel comfortable enough and want to explain why you don’t drink, that is ok too), so you do you and don’t worry about anyone else.

Get involved in everything

Young people having fun on a night out

If there are card games, drinking games, and big nights out on the cards with your housemates and coursemates, get involved even if you don’t drink. You can even play the pre-drinking games, why does it matter if you don’t take a shot at the end of a round? You can still get involved, chat to people, show your personality, and make friends. Just switch out the alcohol for a soft drink.

Make the most of your mornings

Young blonde woman on a morning walk watching the horizon

One of the best things about not drinking at Freshers week is that you have the mornings free to do whatever you want to do, without the fear of a massive hangover getting in the way. This is the perfect chance to head out for a walk to get acclimatised and get to know your new surroundings when it’s quiet out and to find out more about different things going on at the university and the town.

Join a society

Girls playing netball in university tournament

There are plenty of societies and clubs at each university for students to join. Even if you can’t find something to suit a niche interest that you have, there is nothing stopping you from setting one up! Whether you want to join a sports team, learn how to bake, join the society linked to your course, a foreign language, history, or a group for boardgame enthusiasts, there is a uni society for everyone, and freshers week is where you can find out about them and sign up to join for the year ahead.

Go on a café crawl

A bustling busy cafe full of young students

If you don’t want to go on the freshers week pub crawls, why not take the chance to work on a café crawl for you and other fellow coffee enthusiasts? This is a great way to meet new people, spend time with your flatmates, and scope out potential coffee shops and cafés where you might be able to work during term time or go for a spot of lunch. We all need a favourite coffee spot in our lives. Just remember to try the cake!

Go to a pub quiz

A pub quiz in a the student union pub

Testing your brains once a week with a pub quiz is a great way to get competitive in a fun way, and to be creative with your team’s name. A good pub quiz can become a little community, where you see the same friendly faces every week and build a strong team spirit with your friends. Try some out in Freshers week and see where you’ll be testing yourself throughout the year.

Host a game night

Students sitting on the floor playing a board game Monopoly

Bring some board games with you or buy some cheap games at a local charity store in the first couple of days and host a games night at your student accommodation. This can be in your kitchen, communal space, or games room. Invite your flatmates, get the soft drinks and snacks in, maybe a takeaway, and enjoy having fun getting to know each other.

We hope that these Freshers week tips are helpful to you if you are embarking on a new chapter and you are off to university this year. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, don’t be worried as there will be plenty of other people who don’t drink alcohol, for a wide variety of reasons. There’s nothing stopping you from going out on night’s out and sticking to soft drinks or giving that type of late night a miss but making the most of all the other things there is to do in freshers week, such as joining new societies, sports teams, and clubs, getting to know your new housemates and course mates, and getting to know your new town or city.