I’d like to start this post with a quick disclaimer: I am not against drinking or nights out, especially amongst students. I understand it’s a part of our culture, so I am not at all trying to be the voice of a minority and start a social revolution. I’m sure the NHS would appreciate it if I was, but that’s a whole other topic.
I choose to be sober 99% of the time for various reasons. Notice how I don’t claim to be completely sober – I have a soft spot for mulled wine at Christmas, and every so often I try new ciders that come out in flavours I think I’ll like. That is the extent of my drinking, the 1% of the year when I’m not completely alcohol-free. And even then, I will never get drunk, and I do have a reason for that too.
I have suffered from chronic tension-type headaches (and occasionally migraines) since I can remember, so I really don’t want to induce a headache upon myself through a morning hangover when some days I wake up with one just as painful anyway without the fun of being drunk the night before. Unfortunately, where one’s hangover will eventually subside and comfort food actually comforts, my headaches do not, and the only cure is for me to sleep and wake up again the next day. This is a tad inconvenient when my headache has started the moment I’ve woken up to my 9am alarm.
Another more basic reason why I don’t drink is that I simply don’t like the taste of alcohol. Of course, I appreciate the taste of spirits such as vodka are not supposed to be savoured for their flavour but are rather quick ways to get drunk, but I can’t stand most drinks. I had a short love affair with vanilla vodka, but even that has waned. Wine is repulsive to me (unless mulled, as I mentioned) and I can’t stand gin, at all. Honestly, I’m happy here with my mug of English Breakfast tea, I promise.
So what is it like to be sober as a student? Well, a lot easier than you might think, actually.
For one, I don’t have to budget for a night out. That’s right – my weekly allowance goes on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream galore. Sure, it’s not good for me – but neither is alcohol. So the health comparison is out the window there.
Secondly, it means I often don’t go to bed later than 1am, so I don’t struggle to turn up to my 9am/10am lectures without looking like death warmed up. It’s very refreshing to be the one sipping a cuppa out of a flask rather than devouring sandwiches and downing litres of water for survival. I must say though, I am always impressed when I do see these people and they have turned up on time with their meal deal and entire reservoir of Volvic in tow. You have my respect, as I struggle to do the same on my headache days.
Finally, I think my lack of nights out means I put a lot more into days out. I’m not one to lounge around day after day indoors, and by 2pm on my days off, I’m itching to get outside and do something. Because of this, I often plan to do things on my days off, such as going shopping or actually going on a day out on the train or bus. I know this concept isn’t rocket science, but I think the money I spend here is money others would spend on a night out, so for me personally, I believe I get what I want out of my university experience by choosing to do this instead. Again, this is my personal choice, and I wouldn’t judge someone for budgeting for a night out in LRV rather than a day out at Trentham Monkey Forest.
So, that’s what it’s like for me as a sober student, and a couple of reasons why I choose to be one. I hope if you’re reading this because you feel you have to drink when you start university (which I did) otherwise you’ll be isolated from society, I’m living proof that you don’t. It’s very cliché, but just be yourself, don’t follow the crowd just for the sake of it, and I promise you’ll get more out of your student experience that way. If that means drinking, then drink! If that means being extremely selective over alcohol because you want to appreciate the taste of the expensive liquid you’re consuming, however boring it may seem to some, then do it!
University is where you figure yourself out a little bit more, so enjoy the time you have as a student.