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How To Survive University When You Don’t Drink Alcohol

Since I’m doing my Masters and am thus a grandmother in university terms, people expect me to have had my fair share of wild, drunk nights and hungover mornings. The raised eyebrows when I explain that I don’t drink alcohol and never have always fills me with a combination of entertainment and exasperation. On the one hand, people asking “wait, never?” is always funny to experience, but on the other, it makes me wonder why it is such an accepted premise in our society to get completely smashed every weekend… and why I’m the crazy one for not wanting to take part. In case you’re like me and don’t want to drink, here are five tips to survive university.

1. Know your ‘why’

Before you even get to university, I would establish why you don’t want to drink alcohol. Maybe, like me, you simply hate the taste of alcohol and don’t think it’s worth spending money on booze that doesn’t taste like alcohol, or maybe you have religious or health reasons. Whatever they may be, it’s important to know why you’ve made this decision. That way, when people are trying to pressure you into drinking, before you run far away from those people (see tip 2), you can explain to them why you don’t want to.

2. Hang out with the right people

Whether they drink or not, having friends that won’t pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do is important. In my second year I was at a house party, and, instead of telling me to just have a drink, my friend helped me look for the bottle of soda that was least likely to be spiked (we ended up settling for the tap), even though he was a full bottle of wine in himself. I’ve been on pub crawls completely sober, and have enjoyed them immensely, simply because hanging out with my friends makes me happy, and that’s the kind of feeling your friends should give you!

3. Find other ways to socialise

From cafes and brunch (also very funny with hungover people) to movie nights and concerts: there are so many ways to hang out with friends that don’t involve alcohol! I personally live in Headingly and am super excited to explore all the cute cafes they have here, but, wherever you are, there will be alcohol free places you can go to. If you’ve found the right friends, I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to do that, even if they enjoy a drink or two every once in a while.

4. Prevent feeling like you’re missing out

Last week, some of my housemates were going out and we were playing drinking games. Since I wanted to join in but don’t drink, I had some pick-and-mix, and would eat a sweet every time other people took a drink. Not only did I get to eat sweets (always a plus), but I could join in with the drinking games. My housemates thought it was hilarious (again: hang out with the right people), and I had a fun night!

5. Know how you’re getting home

If you do decide to go out (which I do every once in a while), I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a plan for how you’re going to get home. It’s always better to be prepared for when you’re not having fun anymore and everyone’s too drunk to help you get back safely. Figure out when the buses go, download the Uber app, team up with someone who has a car (and is also not drinking, don’t drink and drive kids), whatever you do, have a plan of how to get home. Your safety is the most important, and drinks can impair other people’s judgements, who then convince you that walking home in the middle

Judith was born and raised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, but has been dwelling in the UK for the past three years. She's currently working towards her Masters degree in history, but when she's not in the library reading/crying, she enjoys writing dark fairy tales, watching Gilmore Girls, and belting out ABBA songs.
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