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How to Have Fun on the Weekend as a Sober College Student

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bryn Mawr chapter.

For many students, college is the first time in their life that they are completely independent and unsupervised. Because of this, it’s an ideal opportunity to expand your social life and explore new interests without the menace of Life360. For lots of students, especially freshmen, this means getting the chance to experience partying and drinking for the first time. The emphasis on drinking varies from school to school, with some colleges having a very small party scene, to others where it’s nearly impossible to socialize without partying on a Saturday night. 

But no matter what school you go to, you may have a reason for why you don’t want to drink. Maybe you’re taking medication, you don’t like the taste of alcohol, you have a religious exemption or you’re choosing to take a break for any other legitimate reason. But even if you go to a party school and you don’t drink, this doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a good weekend! Everyone deserves a chance to blow off steam and spend time with friends, so here are some ways you can still enjoy your weekend without alcohol.

Go to a concert with friends ($$ or $$$)

If you’re looking for an activity with the same excitement or thrill as a party, the best way to get it is by going to a concert or music festival with friends in your local area or a nearby city. This has all the benefits of partying: dressing cute, dancing and adrenaline, without the less glamorous side effect of spending the rest of your weekend hungover. Plus, it’ll be an experience you actually remember. A similar option is going to see a show or musical, which can be a fun night to dress fancy with your friends and enjoy some art and music.

Have a self care weekend with friends or by yourself! ($ or $$)

With classes, socializing, extracurriculars, sports, internships and a mountain of homework, your days go by quickly without time to relax and take care of yourself. Take advantage of some extra time on the weekend to practice some self-care. Go for a morning jog, have your favorite coffee/tea beverage, read a new book, practice an extensive shower and skincare routine and, most importantly, sleep in! If you’re willing to spend some extra cash, add in a relaxing massage or manicure.

Movie night with friends or dorm neighbors ($)

If you’re looking to have fun without spending last week’s paycheck, I’d suggest having a movie night with your friends and ordering whatever food you like. This is definitely one of the cheapest ways to enjoy your Friday night, and you can even get a small group of people to chip in an even amount of money for food to lower the cost. What’s great about a movie night is that if you’re not sure if your friends are available, you can talk to your R.A. or H.A (hall advisor) about organizing a movie night for your floor/hall! You’ll get to bond with your neighbors, and you could make new friends that you click really well with.

Explore your college’s nearby cities ($$)

If you attend an urban campus, dedicate a weekend to exploring neighborhoods around your campus. If your college is suburban or rural, take the most efficient transportation (bus, regional train or a friend’s car) into a nearby city that interests you, and just dedicate the whole day to exploring the area, trying new food and taking notes on exciting places that you’d want to come back for (museums, restaurants, concert halls, etc). 

Take advantage of fun fall activities ($ or $$)

There’s no better way to spend a Sunday in October than apple picking, visiting a pumpkin patch or buying ripe-autumn produce at a local farmer’s market. If you’d prefer to stay in, consider baking an apple or pumpkin pie or drinking hot spiced apple cider. If you know the weekends will have chilly nights, another option is to wear fuzzy sweaters and eat smores outside with your friends! Even if you won’t be able to roast them outside, you can buy smores ingredients from your local grocery store and warm them up in the microwave (as long as your school doesn’t consider it a fire hazard).

The Bottom Line

Of course, this is not an extensive list of alternatives to partying. I’d highly suggest finding out what alcohol-free activities you’re most interested in or passionate about (like an instrument or a sport), and dedicate time to that. Often, spending time on an activity you love that makes you feel like you’re improving a skill will give you a sense of energy and fulfillment. 

If you know that your sobriety isn’t temporary, then it’s a good idea to have at least one group of friends that doesn’t drink. There’s nothing wrong with having friends who do, but if you’re the only one out of all your friends that doesn’t drink, you might start feeling like the odd one out. 

You should make friends that share your academic interests, your sense of humor, or your core values, but don’t neglect including a few people that are different from you, because they’re also an important part of figuring out who you are and what you like to do. Overall, it’s good to maintain a diverse group of friends, but at the end of the day, you need to know your limits and what you’re comfortable with. While college is a time for personal growth and experimentation, you should always prioritize your values and your health above everything else. 

Catherine Kirk

Bryn Mawr '26

Hello! My name is Catie (she/her) and I'm a freshman at Bryn Mawr. I'm undecided but considering a major in biophysics and a minor in journalism. In my free time I love to read fiction and poetry, play guitar, go for a run, and explore new places and restaurants with my friends!