The next few weeks are a landmark time for Kit and many other students: the start of university. Such a rollercoaster period is a wild ride for anyone, but can be made more difficult by not drinking. This post isn’t just for teetotal folk, though, there’s some useful information for anyone starting uni.
When I first came up with the idea for this post, I figured that my freshers’ week would have gone very differently. Not to mention the fact that I thought I’d be posting it about a year earlier, but that’s university for you.
Neither me nor Lydia drink any alcohol at all. Because of this, a large portion of the Freshers’ hype was lost on us to begin with. When so many people use drinking as a social vehicle, it can be daunting to approach this sober.
I was surprised by how many other people don’t drink, either. Within the group I started freshers’ with alone, there were three of us, and a few who barely drunk. There were, of course, also a few who claimed not to and then were completely plastered the next time I saw them, but these were the exception rather than the rule. From cultural to medical reasons, I was surprised how many sober people there were, given what a rarity I was back home. Most people understood that this and didn’t judge me at all. In fact, I participated in many games of ‘never have I ever’ with just water. Written down, that seems like one of the most uncool things I’ve ever said, but in the getting to know each other stage, it was less about getting drunk.
My first piece of advice would be to not not go to drinking events just because you’ll be sober. I’ve avoided these gatherings since, but in the initial stages, it was a helpful way to meet people.
Online group chats saved me, to begin with. Both Lydia and I joined group chats through Facebook and I used the app Campus Society to meet a few people before we went. Be careful with that, though – not all Facebook groups are set up by legit sources. Neither of us ended up close with group chat members by the end, but it definitely soothed our anxieties pre-university, and gave us a starting point.
Which brings me to the next point: don’t just stick with the first people you come across. That’s not to say that they might not be the people you spend the next few years with. However, I made the mistake of sticking like a limpet to the first group I found, because of how afraid I was to meet new people. In a time when many are keen to widen their social circle as much as possible, this didn’t go down well. Even if you think you’ve found your people, use every opportunity to meet more.
Sleeping and eating are also important things. I forgot to do either properly for several days and as a result, had unnecessarily heightened anxiety. Making the same mistake is not recommended.
One of the most important pieces of advice that I wish I was given is to get used to being alone. It’s worryingly easy to be lost in the urgency of freshers’ and feel like you have to be constantly making social connections. However, that can be an ineffective cover for the other major change; likely your first time living alone. Take some time to familiarise yourself with your room and your independence. That’s not to say that you should be avoiding people and installing yourself as a hermit in your room, just take some time out of socialising or you may find yourself relying too much on others.
Also, remember to register. Until you’re registered, they won’t release your student finance, and this caught a few people out.
Good luck to Kit and everyone else starting university! If you have any other advice, feel free to comment below.