Before I arrived at university I was worried about three things; 1) I would lose my flat keys in Fresher's Week and end up sleeping with the campus foxes 2) In my first seminar, a journalism lecturer resembling Jon Snow, terrifying and intelligent, would boom at me, "Young lady, what are your views on the Blair Years?" to which I would murmur something about liking his dress sense and 3) I would be taunted for my lack of interest in consuming vast quantities of alcohol.
As it turned out, my keys have always remained safely in my pocket and Jon Snow was a darling. However, drinking at university has been a slightly more complicated matter .
I have always had an unenthusiastic attitude to drinking. This is not for religious reasons or a dislike of the taste, but the idea that one Tequila shot too many can lead to a day spent with your head next to the toilet bowl is enough of a deterrent to put my glass down after just a couple.
I spent Freshers Week in a state of sobriety thus far completely unheard of at university. I love dancing and student night life without alcohol, a fate that made me as ostentatious as a porpoise hiding in a wardrobe. This didn't faze me at all, but confused the hell out of my new friends:
"How do you even walk into a club?"
"Can you dance sober?"
"Can you even talk to people?"
So how does an abstemious Fresher fit into a daunting new world where every student's blood is laced with Frosted Jack's and your social life revolves around who spilled what gossip during the most recent game of 'Never Have I Ever'? Does teetotal-ness exclude you from making new friends, having a great social life and enjoying student culture? Or, the most frightening thought of all, does it make you boring?
In sympathy of my self-esteem I want to bark, "No!" and for the majority of the time, this is true. Since attending university, I can count on one hand the times I have been singled out for not drinking. Laughably, the worst thing that has happened is a drunken boy accosting me and slurring, "Don't you think you're just a little bit too sensible?"which I'm sure my ego has never truly recovered from.
So far I have managed to make great friends and have an exciting, if crazy, social life on all but no alcoholic stimuli. Some of this is my stubbornness to be unfazed by a group of rowdy first years, and some of it is because the rowdy first year's antics make for really excellent blog entries.
Student life and alcohol are so deeply intertwined that separating the two would be as difficult as imagining Tom Selleck without a moustache, and until Kopparberg becomes ten pounds a bottle, that's not ever going to change. What perhaps needs some alteration is the idea that student night life isn't bearable without alcohol. Whilst it's heartening to realise I personally don't need a drink to have a great night out, the same can't be said of everyone. And that's nothing if not a little bit upsetting.
My fear of not being accepted as a non-drinker dissolved within the first few weeks of being at university. I was not judged and discarded based on how much beer I could chug. Being a sober Fresher doesn't mean a life spent sat in the corner sipping J2O's and fending off intoxicated friends trying to tip Apple Sourz down your throat either. If club life isn't your cup of tea, sober or otherwise, then join a film club, arts programme or debates team. Universities are bursting with opportunities for the curious student wanting a different experience.
University is a place to learn, make friends, have fun and most importantly, find and follow what you truly believe in. It's okay to swim against the tide. The uncharted seas of intoxication aren't for everyone.