If I asked you to picture a stereotypical university student, I bet one of the first things that comes to your mind is someone who spends their nights out at the club, drinking until the early hours of the morning. Well, that was what I pictured before I started my first year anyway. For someone who had never drank alcohol before, stepping into the wild and intense drinking culture of university was a very intimidating experience for me.
The first thing I found was that the general attitude amongst some students was, in order to have a good night out, you must drink. Of course, it’s undeniable, students drink to have fun. It’s a confidence boost, a social kick, something that makes all your worries and anxieties magically float away. Students drink alcohol to celebrate birthdays, to participate in competitive drinking games, to literally just be happy. There’s nothing wrong with that at all
However, if you don’t drink, it is immediately assumed that you are boring, introverted and missing out on all the fun. I have been called boring and anti-social many times, but trust me, just because you’re sober or don’t drink as much as your friends, it doesn’t mean you are a boring person. When I first started university, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I was asked “why don’t you drink alcohol?”. It always confused me as to why this question was even asked to begin with. You’d never hear anyone say, “why don’t you smoke cigarettes?’” or “why don’t you vape?”, so why is it the case for alcohol?
After a whole year of being a sober student, I have come to learn that you should never have to justify yourself to anyone
Whenever I was asked this question in my first year, I always answered along the lines of “because I don’t want to,” or simply just “why not?” but many times, that wasn’t enough. People always expected me to explain myself, to justify my ‘abnormal’ choices, to have some sort of terrible history with alcohol. But, after a whole year of being a sober student, I have come to learn that you should never have to justify yourself to anyone. Just simply saying “no” when offered a drink should be enough. Ultimately, those who cannot accept your personal choice or simple rejection of a drink are not the type of people you should be hanging around with. I am not saying that you shouldn’t be friends with people who drink alcohol, but you should definitely find people who respect your choices and share your values.
Despite the fact that there is definitely a big drinking culture here at Warwick University, I can guarantee you, it is not the only way to make friends and have fun
Despite the fact that there is definitely a big drinking culture here at Warwick University, I can guarantee you, it is not the only way to make friends and have fun. I thoroughly enjoyed my first year, something I thought wouldn’t be possible without alcohol. Many of the societies I joined had both alcoholic and sober events that I could choose between.
Even when you are invited out to go circling, to the club, or to someone’s house party, there’s no need to immediately avoid these situations. You can still have fun without alcohol! Remember, many places offer alcohol-free alternatives just in case you do suffer from a little bit of FOMO. But, like me, if going out isn’t really your thing, just sitting in a café with one of your course mates or going on a walk around campus with a few friends are just two of many other ways you can socialise without alcohol.
In reality, there is always a much bigger group of people who don’t drink at university than you think
If making friends has proved to be a struggle for you, trust me, you are not alone. First year of university can be very lonely and being sober can sometimes be rather frustrating. It can be very tempting to turn to alcohol to solve all your problems and fix your feelings of loneliness and anxiety, but I have an alternative to offer for you. University is a great place to pursue a new hobby or continue one you already have. This could be playing a musical instrument, baking for your flatmates, joining the knitting and crocheting society, or of course, writing for The Boar, something which I have enjoyed doing very much. Warwick University has so much to offer in terms of social events and I couldn’t be happier with the choices I have been offered.
So, if you’re sitting there wondering will being sober ruin my university experience? I’m here to tell you that it definitely will not! Recent studies by Prestige Student Living (June 2023), have found that the number of students drinking alcohol is actually decreasing, with 27% of 16–24-year-olds stating that they don’t drink alcohol at all. Though at times it may start to feel like it, remember, you are not alone. There are people out there exactly like you, scared to go out, embarrassed to say that they don’t drink, thinking that they are the only ones. In reality, there is always a much bigger group of people who don’t drink at university than you think, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it will be to find each other.