How to have an alcohol free nightlife in Exeter
With Freshers’ Week in the past and new students settled, Zoe Sperry gives advice on how to have the ‘uni experience’ alcohol-free.
For so many, one of the fundamental parts of the university experience involves having weekly nights out. Freshers’ week is notorious for its expansive partying options and jam-packed nightclubs. Facebook and WhatsApp groups are never short of messages asking for TP tickets and indeed there’s a strong temptation to make the most of the first few weeks of term before deadline season looms upon us.
Despite such popularity surrounding Exeter’s nightlife, there are many who do not desire such a lifestyle. Some are actively staying sober, others are trying to avoid a bad hangover and some simply aren’t a fan of the loud crowded atmosphere of a club. Yet with the majority of socials being held in the evening by societies or shared flats, it’s easy to feel like an outlier when remaining restrained from alcohol. What is important to know, especially as a fresher, is that there are so many other students who are in that exact same position and there is an increasing awareness of the need for sober events.
“There are so many other students who are in that exact same position”
During this year’s Freshers’ week, there was certainly no shortage of daytime or non-drinking activities: societies held meet and greets on the campus’ green lawns or in cute cafes downtown. There were craft-making sessions and tasters that offered an opportunity for people to get to know many societies committees and fellow peers in a sober environment. Hopefully, these types of socials will carry on throughout the year. While as a student it may sometimes feel like evenings are the only free time to have fun, it’s good to encourage a more balanced lifestyle routine by fitting in some socials during the day. There are some societies that lean away completely from any drinking, for example, the knitting society. A night out may be fun for those that enjoy it, but meeting people in a calmer, more relaxed environment can allow for deeper connections and a way for people to truly get to know each other.
But the pressure to go out drinking doesn’t just come from societies. As a fresher living in halls, it’s often part of the culture to hold flat parties or ‘pres’ before a night out. It can feel weird to abstain from alcohol when everyone around you does not but never feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to – honour your own needs and preferences and most likely no one will judge you for it. If they do, then they are not worth befriending.
“Honour your own needs and preferences, and most likely no one will judge you for it”
A night out doesn’t always have to mean getting drunk at TP. Quiz nights, pub socials, or cocktails with friends are a great way to have a more relaxed, but still fun night. Even if you choose to remain sober, chances are there will be others either doing the same or keeping their alcohol intake to a minimum. Try to surround yourself with the right people who feel inviting and supportive – and remember you can always leave whenever you want.
University is a time to have new experiences, and that doesn’t have to involve alcohol if you don’t want it to. Engage in activities that feel fun and in line with your values, and most importantly don’t let any external pressures move you away from that.