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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.