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Articles > Student Life August, 18, 2015

Surviving Uni If You’re Not A Party Animal

Charlotte Swale
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Ahh, the student stereotype. Constantly partying, permanently skint. While we all know that not all students are like that, there does seem to be an element of expectation that comes with the student experience.

I’m in the fortunate (or unfortunate) position of having been a fresher twice. Thanks to choosing completely the wrong degree the first time round, I found myself starting my student life all over again. But that gave me the chance to learn from a few mistakes I made during my first attempt at being a fresher.

PARTY HARD but sober

Photo by http://www.gratisography.com/

When I first went to university, I was bombarded with the message that being drunk through all of freshers was a must. Before I’d even moved into my halls I had a whole host of invites to various fresher’s club nights and a list of friends requests from more club promoters than I could shake a stick at. Coming from a small rural town, I wasn’t used to big city life, and I’d never set foot in a proper night club before, so I thought I’d give it a try.

And that’s when I discovered that I hate clubbing. The music is too loud, the drinks are overpriced, getting home at 3am in the pouring rain when you’re struggling to stand up isn’t my idea of fun. Plus I had the added misfortune of having flatmates who were the kind of people who end up lying in a pool of their own vomit if left unattended for two seconds, so babysitting them further ruined my sense of enjoyment.

So I tried just pre-drinking. I’d come up with a rubbish excuse about how I had an early lecture the next morning (even on a Saturday), I’d drink in the flat downstairs and then disappear before the taxi arrived. The music was quieter, the drink was cheaper, but then I had to put up with watching all my friends disappear off to the club while I resigned myself to a night of watching BBC I-player and eating cereal out of the box by myself.

So eventually I gave up on pre-drinking as well. But the problem with that was then all my party animal friends suddenly weren’t so interested in being friends. It seemed that doing shots was a condition of having friends at uni as a fresher. I tried going to clubs and societies to meet new people, but even these activities usually ended up in the local pub at the end of it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like a drink as much as any student. But I’m far happier having a couple of quiet ones in the old man pub round the corner, or splitting a bottle of wine with my best friend in my own living room. The atmosphere of a student nightclub is one of expensive booze and low morals, and the last thing I want on a night out is a drunken mess spoiling a good catch up.

So when I went to university 2.0, I decided that I didn’t need to bother with partying to fit in. I now live a half hour train journey from my uni, which gives the perfect excuse to avoid a late night (I can’t get home at the end of it). I don’t live with other students, so I’m not having to watch them go out and have fun while I stay in. I’m also the only one of my friends who actually has money left over on student loan day, since it hasn’t been spent on shots and dodgy 2am kebabs. My attendance at lectures is good, and I can actually pay attention and learn because I’m not the victim of a 3 day hangover. In the long run, hating the party lifestyle has been a blessing in disguise.

So if I can pass on a couple of tips to the new freshers starting their university journey this year, they would be these:

  1. Friends made over a tray of Jagerbombs are not friends. They might be good fun and always be up for a party, but they are going to be useless when you need a shoulder to cry on about being homesick and struggling with exam revision.
  2. Drinking is not the be all and end all of being a student. By all means, have fun and party if you want to, but at the end of the day university is about learning and if that isn’t your scene then don’t feel pressured into it. It’s totally fine to only party when there is something to celebrate. In the long run, your finances and your grades will thank you for it.
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  1. Georgina Price

    Yes, yes, yes! I’ve been in the same situation. I was at uni for less than half a year and it was a disaster almost entirely because of my flatmates and the constant party atmosphere. I’ve started again this year and I’m living with relatives in a nearby town. I don’t have to go to parties I don’t enjoy or get drunk when I don’t want to. The flatmates I lived with last year were only friends until I gave up on the party culture and then they almost immediately became enemies. After that my only friends were the ones on my course, real friends. Glad to see someone else has had similar experiences and found there is an alternative to the typical student lifestyle.

  2. Joe Smithard

    I am exactly like you in the sense i want a quite night in, this has helped me so much for uni next month

  3. Savannah

    Ugh this is just what I needed. I feel so badly like I don’t fit in because I hate drinking and partying. I have social anxiety and I think I’ll just sit freshers week out tbh, because I know it’s not my thing. It’s so annoying though, people always say don’t do something to fit in, don’t be pressured, but when I say I don’t want to do this they say I should push myself. I don’t care about the social side of uni, honestly, I’m here for my course. I’m struggling so much to settle in though. I hate it so much.

  4. Helena Zucker

    I agree with this, and feel that the pressure to drink and party can make the experience difficult to approach.

  5. Anirudh Kumar

    I think…yes in the end the suggestion was completely right . Its ok to party with friends but hangover always will mahe u an addicted alcholic rather than getting your degree for which you are admitted and for which your parents were paying your fees….so give value to your precious time , money and knowledge

  6. Stefani Duncan

    Yes! I completely agree. I live 30 miles away from my university so going out on Freshers Week was just an added hassle. However I met my friends during lectures and they understand that I don’t particularly enjoy going out and getting drunk. I’m the kind of person that ends up looking after everyone at the end of the night since I’m not fall on my face drunk. You don’t need to go out partying to find friends and fit in!

  7. Husna Rahmani

    After reading this I don’t think I’ll go for my freshers week

  8. Bennie Faron

    Welfare benefits like Disability Living Allowance are not means tested and could make a big difference more information is available from the Benefits Agency or AfME benefits advice lines. The crunch time has come, but how will you survive?

  9. Rebecca

    While I will agree, you don’t have to be a partier or a drinker in order to enjoy your time at university, I do think experience is definitely an individual thing. The people and situation can really change things. I was like you, coming from a small town to a bigger city. Yet, each of my years were different.

    For example: In my first year, I found that I was more of a middle person. I wasn’t that into clubbing but I loved going out with my friends of societies to the pub and did the odd SU night.

    Second year: I didn’t really get on with my housemates and I started volunteering, so I found myself going out less often. When I did, I had a really great time with my course mates or with the society, but I think the frequency change let me enjoy it more.

    Third year: I studied abroad in Sweden this year, where the nightlife was very different! The ‘Clubs’ were much more fun and student focused (as well as more often than not, student ran). The people were up for a laugh but rarely pressured you to drink if you didn’t want to. There were also more opportunities for non-alcoholic events and always a good range of things to do. This was easily my best year social-wise, I tended to drink and club more often and still had a great time when I didn’t.

    Final year: This naturally will bring you down to a different level as work gets harder. But again, I reverted to more of a second year approach however begun to hate clubbing and SU nights all together, voting more for a night in with some wine with my new set of housemates.

    The people and the situation really changed how I spent my time and money. I was never strapped for cash whatever situation I found myself and still found time to study. It is an individual choice, but I do think you will find things are likely to change year to year as you meet different people.

  10. Laura Sinclair

    I am so not a big partier. I enjoy a few drinks, hut honestly I have no interest in drinking until I vomit! Thankfully I am staying at home and have a boyfriend who isn’t big on it either.

  11. Tom.s

    Well put. I’m glad im not the only one who’d prefer a quiet few in the local pub.

  12. ikhwanil kirom

    Yeah..
    “everyone is different of course”
    I like it

  13. Aaron Law

    Well said Charlotte. Looks like you found a good way to deal with things. I don’t drink at all and stayed at home so avoided it altogether. Maybe I missed out but it hasnt bothered me. Everyone is different of course…

  14. Penny

    It’s rather sad that the only way you found to escape university drinking culture was to escape from all university social activities. I also hate clubbing, pre-drinking and I’m not interested in pubs either, but I had a very active social life at university. I took part in clubs and societies and the students union, most universities have tens if not hundreds of societies to get involved in. There is a lot more to university than constant drinking or hiding in a corner.

    • Charlotte Swale

      Unfortunately the uni I was at originally did have lots of societies and clubs, but the majority either had excessively high attendance expectations or were in some way related to drinking. I was teaching a dance class for a while when I was at that uni, and at the end of classes everyone went to the pub. I have the added problem of suffering from anxiety, so putting myself in unfamiliar situations is very difficult. Since starting my new course it has been better, me and the girls on the course will meet up for lunch or coffee or something during the day as we all have other commitments during the evenings. In my experience it is very difficult to find uni related social activities where there is no element of alcohol or partying involved. I’m glad you’ve been able to find clubs which suit your needs 🙂