How to thrive socially at university if you don’t drink

There's a lot of pressure for students who don't drink at university, especially when it comes to making friends. But there are ways around it...
Avantika Vaishnav
Avantika Vaishnav

This article was written by an external contributor. Chloe Smith is here to help anyone who is worried about making friends at university if they don’t drink. 

There’s a certain pressure around students and drink – it’s practically expected that if you’re at uni, you must enjoy a beer or two to have fun. So if you’re not one of them, it could cause you to  shy away from social situations. But here’s the tea; you can still have an amazing time on campus without downing a bottle of wine. With the introduction of new events for freshers, the options are practically endless.

Here’s a few to get you started…

Do your own thing


The most important thing to remember is that you’re perfectly welcome to every single event that your university throws, even if you don’t drink. It might seem difficult if others are  pressuring you, but please try not to let that stop you from socialising and having fun.

You can easily go out with your mates and drink soft drinks all night and have just as much fun as those who are drinking alcohol. On the plus side, you’ll remember the events of the night, and you won’t wake up in the morning with your head down the toilet!

A few bars are also starting a scheme where designated drivers get free drinks – so that’s a massive financial benefit if you’re able to take that role on. If nowhere local to you is offering it, maybe it’s something you can raise with your students’ union. That way you can implement it at future events to help non-drinkers feel more welcome on nights out!

Go to non-alcohol events


Fairly obvious, this one – but it still needs to be said. Your university can (and should) offer events where drinking isn’t a prerogative at all. If you don’t feel like going out when others will be drinking, these are perfect. Think film screenings, coffee afternoons, author talks, that kind of thing.

Check out your union website to see what’s on offer. If nothing comes up, perhaps put in a good word with the staff there – it’s highly likely that you won’t be the only student that would benefit from an event such as this. Or better yet, you can volunteer to help start one up. Not only will it help you meet new people, but it will also look great on your CV.

Join a society


Societies are kind of a holy grail for those of us who go to university and who don’t drink. Not in the sense that they won’t have any events at all where drinking isn’t involved (you are at university, after all) but there will be loads of other options. For example; a society that raises money for charity will focus on things like bucket shakes, fun runs, or even more radical things like adventure challenges.

From dance and sport, to debates and media, there’ll be a group that will work for you. Making friends is just one benefit of joining a society; you’ll also gain new skills, experience amazing opportunities and boost your employability levels!

Hopefully, these tips are helpful for anyone who is joining university as a non-drinker. Don’t let others isolate you. There will be something on campus for you to enjoy and have that full ‘student experience’. Get out there and explore what’s on offer!

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