Drinking alcohol is often portrayed as the cornerstone of university culture.
American college films often showcase the raucous activities of Greek Life, and fresher’s week events tend to centre around alcohol-laden nights out.
But just because alcohol is one part of university life doesn’t mean consuming it by the gallons is the only way to get involved with social activities and make friends.
So it doesn’t matter if you don’t drink, and whether or not your reasons are religious in nature, a personal choice or due to health concerns. You can still immerse yourself in the student experience and find people to hang out with who enjoy the same things as you.
Here are Study International’s top ways to enjoy university that don’t involve alcohol (and hangovers):
1) Join a sports team
If you’re looking for that social comradery without having to play raucous drinking games and pre-drinks, joining a sports team can give you exactly that. You’ll immediately feel part of a community that looks after and respects each other.
Instead of spending your days hungover in bed, you’ll be out on the pitch with your new family getting ready for the next big game. Not only will you make new friends and form an unspeakable bond, you’ll also be keeping yourself active and healthy.
2) Start a new hobby
It might feel lonely if your flatmates are getting ready for a big night out but you’d rather stay in with a movie and chocolate. But if you throw yourself into a new hobby as soon as you arrive at university, you’ll soon find a community of like-minded people to spend time with.
Whether it is learning a new instrument and joining a band, or attending yoga class, there are plenty of ways to meet new people that don’t revolve around drinking.
Not only would you have a whole group to share your passions with, you’d also have learnt an awesome new skill by the end of the year!
3) Hit the books
Instead of spending your evenings getting drunk and most of your sunlight hours kneeling over the porcelain altar, you can make the most of your extra free time by hitting the library.
Get ahead of your classmates by cramming for your next assignment while everyone else is binge-watching Friends on their sofas. This will come especially handy during exam season when libraries get busy before the clock strikes 9am.
Hitting the books early also leaves more time to hang out with friends or enjoy your new hobby in the afternoon, rather than wasting the morning in bed and having to work while the sun comes out in the afternoon.
4) Enjoy time outdoors
While some students are spending their time in dingy nightclubs, you can embrace the great outdoors by making the most of the sunlight hours. You’ll be able to wake up feeling fresh in the morning, which gives you loads of time to explore outside before it gets dark.
Whether you’re studying in a rural university in Scotland or a major city like Berlin, there are always plenty of green spaces and interesting architecture to find. Getting out and about will make you feel like you’ve made the most of the day, and you’ll see hidden corners that most students won’t even know existed.
5) Volunteer your time
The answers to life’s greatest mysteries aren’t ever found at the bottom of that beer bottle so if you’re in need of that kind of fulfilment, try volunteering your time to a worthy cause. You could work the night-shift at a homeless shelter to help provide people without a home with a comfy bed and warm clothes for an evening, or you could sign up at a local animal shelter to help give mistreated animals some desperately needed creature comforts (and you get to stroke cute dogs… what could be better than that!)
Volunteering your time will allow you to feel fulfilled that you are helping those in need rather than sleeping off that hangover. It’ll also give you the opportunity to meet others who enjoy improving the lives of others… and you never know, you might find your new best friend!
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