by Evey Moriarty
Coming back after a break is weird. After Christmas it took me forever to settle back in: it’s a huge culture shock to settle back into living, as most freshers do, with 20 other people after living just with family. It’s weird to have to revise for exams, and to get used to doing work again (although of course, for the benefit of any tutors reading this, we’ve all been working diligently over the Easter holidays anyway). So far, the sun’s been shining and everyone’s largely feeling optimistic about spending a summer term hanging out by the sea and trying to make the most of our last few months with our current flatmates.
But that’s not all I’ve been trying to get used to. I recently had to give up drinking because of medication I have to take and, while it didn’t really register as A Thing over the holidays as I was mainly being a nerd wandering about in the countryside with my friends and hanging out with my family (I’m nothing if not painfully cool), this is the biggest hurdle in getting used to University again. Getting used to teetotal student life is really odd, and this week I’ve mostly been thinking about the relationship between fresher life and alcohol.
It’s kind of love/hate, I guess – love it on Wednesday nights in Revs, hate it Thursday morning lectures – but it can’t be denied that drinking is a large part of the first year experience. I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, I mean, we’re all young, living away from our parents, and contrary to what a lot of people think, we do work pretty hard. We deserve the occasional night out or we’d all just go mad. But what do students who don’t drink do to blow off steam?
They do exist. There are plenty of students (although obviously a massive minority) who don’t drink at all, for religious or medical reasons, or just from choice. One of my flatmates doesn’t drink at all, for similar reasons to myself, and she’s just as fun as any of our friends that drink on a night out. I’m not like her, I’m afraid – I can be painfully shy, and being sober in a crowd of hundreds of dancing, loud drunk people might just be my personal idea of hell. I’m attempting a sober night out twice this week – one for a friend’s birthday, and once for the Amnesty International night in Sin City on Thursday (which you should all check out if you’re free) – and I’m sure it’ll be, if nothing else, character building.
I think one thing that’s great about University here is the amount of non-drinking related activities that actually are on offer if you look for them. We have a lot of amazing societies that have socials, gatherings which I know are deliberately planned so that a good proportion of the activities are just as fun for those who don’t drink. We have an on campus cinema, quizzes, music nights… I even once went bowling in Swansea (the closest thing to sport you will ever get me to do, and pretty much universally declared as a humiliating failure on my part, but that doesn’t matter).
So I guess the overall feeling is that this term’s going to be a good one: we have the weather on our side (so far), we have exams, but they’ll end, and we have each other to make the most of before we’re split up. And I’ll have fairly daunting task of getting used to being a fresher who doesn’t drink, but, hey, at the end of the day, I’ve always liked a challenge.