Whether you don’t drink alcohol or choose not to drink regularly, meeting people and socialising at University can feel quite daunting. Fortunately, despite what it seems, drinking alcohol is only a small part of student life and there are many ways to socialise without waking up with a hangover. When we asked students about their attitudes around alcohol, 81% agreed that they did not need to get drunk to have a good night out and 78% agreed that drinking too much, too quickly, could cut short a good night out with friends (1). Only 9% of students report intentionally getting drunk more than once a week, and 50% of students drink less than once a week (1), so you can be sure you’re notalone in your desire to enjoy university without getting regularly drunk.
From a Frappuccino to a Pumpkin Spiced Latte, the range of hot drinks available has exploded in recent years. “Do you want to grab a coffee?” is the new “do you want to go for a drink?”. In fact, research has shown that coffeeshops may outnumber pubs in Britain by 2030 (2). So even if your friends like to drink in the evenings, they will be happy to grab lunch or a hot drink. Furthermore, find cafes that offer extended opening times or evening entertainment.
Student nights don’t need to be the only place you can meet new people. Spend time in your communal areas, eat your lunch in the kitchen and leave your bedroom door open when studying. Importantly, give yourself ample opportunity for those impromptu conversations that develop into friendships.
Universities and Students’ Unions typically offer classes, societies and exercise. Not only is this a great way to expand your skillset, get fit or discover a talent that you didn’t know you had, it also offers a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded students. With more in common, they might even be the friends that stick - long after University finishes! The range of activities on offer ranges from scuba diving to robotics, so whether you’re the next Great British Bake Off star or simply enjoy watching movies, there will be a society or class for you.
Whilst tempting to sit on your own at lectures (the extra leg space is a bonus, right?), you are likely to be spending the next 3-4 years with the people on your course and they are probably going to be some of your closest friends at University. In addition to being a useful source of knowledge, it’s a perfect opportunity to socialise with others outside of a bar environment. So take the plunge, sit next to someone in your lectures and strike up a conversation.
In recent years, Universities and Students’ Unions are running an increasing amount of alcohol-free activities. There is no need to miss out on social events because you don’t want to get drunk. From Mario Kart tournaments to movie nights, check out what is on offer. If there isn’t anything you fancy, checkout what is on offer in the local area, why not invite your flatmates to the local crazy golf or indoor climbing?
Ever had anyone smell your drink? No, me neither. Who knows if that is a vodka and coke or just a coke? If you are happy to be in a bar or house party session, be reassured it is probably less obvious than you think that you are not drinking, or drinking less than others. Additionally, even if others do notice, nearly 90% of students agreed that they enjoy socialising with those that don’t drink (1).
Ultimately, although there is a hype that University is all about getting drunk, student life is so much more than this and you don’t need alcohol to meet new people, have fun and get the most out of your student experience.
1: NUS Students and Alcohol 2020-21https://www.sos-uk.org/research/students-and-alcohol-survey