When many people think of students, the first thing that comes to their mind is young adults going to clubs and parties most nights and ending up still in bed at 2pm with a throbbing headache. Before coming to university, this really concerned me. I was worried that not drinking would mean I would be excluded from social events and viewed as being a bit weird by my fellow students. This really couldn’t be further from the truth, so I thought I would share my experience, as I really wish I had seen a blog post like this when I was preparing to come to Oxford.
I have never really been one to drink but since arriving at university, the odd glass of wine has turned into not drinking at all for medical reasons. The first thing I would like to emphasise is that I am really not an anomaly! Plenty of people don’t drink for religious/ cultural reasons, their health or they just don’t like the taste! Even in a nightclub, it’s very rare that I’m the only person drinking Diet Coke.
Since arriving I have been to multiple clubs and bars with friends and societies but personally have never felt any pressure to drink whilst there – I’ve found that most people ask whether or not you drink alcohol rather than assume you do. Plus, enjoyment of a night out isn’t based on alcohol consumption – my fellow non-drinkers and I can still show off our dance moves! Although it would probably be better if I couldn’t as mine are particularly bad…
I personally enjoy events that some students associate with alcohol consumption, such as BOPs (college parties) but it’s completely understandable that some may not find them particularly pleasant to attend. However, this doesn’t mean that not drinking alcohol will result in exclusion from all social events. In fact, the vast majority of social events for me don’t involve alcohol at all.
My favourite things to do with my friends include going to get hot chocolate or ice cream (the ice cream parlour near Worcester College opens until midnight every day!) and making use of the student discounts available for activities such as ice skating and mini golf. Such activities are really popular amongst students in general – they’re generally cheaper than events involving alcohol and you feel loads better in your 9am lecture the next day!
Nonetheless, if your experience isn’t as positive as mine, there’s still plenty of help available. I have found that college student representatives and the welfare staff are really keen to ensure that drinking culture does not dominate the social scene in Oxford, so there is always somewhere to turn if you do feel any pressure.
If I could tell offer-holding me one thing about university life it would be that there is so much to get involved in and the opportunities are endless. Regardless of whether you drink alcohol or not, your student experience will likely be packed with exciting social and networking events.