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Fresher’s week – the time of new experiences, reinvention and most of all a massive piss up. But not for me. Now I’m not saying I didn’t have new experiences, because I most definitely did, I had never rubbed someone’s back to stop them choking on their own vomit before, I had never seen so many people succumb to the pressure to drink and most importantly I had never felt the need to lie about the fact that I personally chose to stay completely sober.
Yet in the days leading up to moving in my biggest concern wasn’t living with slobs or whether I would hate my course but what if I was ostracised because I chose not to drink, not for religious reasons and not because of some traumatic incident but simply because the idea never appealed to me? I asked all my friends for advice, they came back with everything from lying about having a medical condition to employing the bottle trick from Coyote Ugly but my saviour came when my parents bought me non alcoholic beer and I tore all the labels off in the hopes that no one would notice that I wasn’t really taking part in the traditional drinking games.
The first night was terrifying. Not an hour after my parent left the drinking games began, the most terrifying aptly having been named “the scary game” in which everyone pours some of their own alcohol into a communal cup and if the chosen card is your card you have to drink its entire contents. While it may seem dramatic the scariest part of that night was watching the cards being turned over, slowly, one by one and fearing that if it landed on me I would either have to fess up or become the first person on the chunder chart when I inevitably failed to down my first ever pint. Thankfully for my housemates and my stomach, the odds were in my favour, with 11 other people in my house and it never landed on me.
Despite my fear, fresher’s turned out to be an amazing time. Maybe I got lucky but by the third day everyone in my house had figured out that I skipped actually drinking. And so on the third night I left my comfort zone (which consisted of the two quieter girls in my house) and went to Sugar for the first time without them and with the more outgoing personalities of my house, the ones who happily and fully embraced the fresher lifestyle. It was then that I realised they didn’t care at all, one of them even told me not to feel pressured to drink, another making sure I was ok and telling me how their best friend didn’t drink either. When I stopped assuming people would judge me I came to the conclusion that I could have and had been having a great time without alcohol so why ruin it by worrying?
Our next trip out was so much more enjoyable because I didn’t feel boring, I was having the time of my life without a single drop of alcohol, much to many drunken fresher’s surprise. I even found other people who didn’t drink and I began to actually get compliments on the fact that I could handle/enjoy a club without being off my face, the most memorable coming from a guy who probably doesn’t even remember me… even though he asked for and I told him my name four times in under half an hour.
So let’s face it, on the whole I feel I get the best of both worlds, I enjoy the nightlife, the drinking games, the funny moments without the hangovers, the throwing up and best of all without the memory loss (giving me ample blackmail material). Therefore while freshers may stereotypically be a time of new experiences, reinvention and a massive piss up it doesn’t have to be. I got the new experiences without the alcohol and most importantly I don’t want to use this time to change this particular aspect of who I am, I don’t need to and neither does anyone else who feels they can’t take part in the university experience just because they want to do something slightly differently.