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Drinking culture at university. Is it a big problem?

(94 Posts)
Littleham Thu 18-Sep-14 15:10:55

Is it true that there is a massive amount of drinking at university?

If the social life revolves around drinking / clubbing, do students who are not that way inclined get marginalised?

ISingSoprano Thu 18-Sep-14 15:17:10

In my (limited) experience universities are massive institutions with a huge amount of clubs, societies and interest groups. There will always be those students who drink a lot, those that drink a bit and those that don't drink. Apparently it is newsworthy that freshers weeks are one big alcohol fuelled party. Not much is said about all the sports clubs who are running taster sessions, or the conservation society who organise a beach clean.

CabbagePatchCheryl Thu 18-Sep-14 15:21:36

1) Yes

2) No.

There is a huge diversity of people at most universities and people tend to socialise with people with shared interests/outlooks. If you don't drink or like to go out on the town, you'll may well be in a minority but you will always be able to find like-minded people to hang out with provided you have other interests.

I say this as someone who went to a relatively small uni. At the bigger ones there is an even more diverse range of groups to get involved with.

Littleham Thu 18-Sep-14 15:31:08

Thanks. DD1 has plenty of interests, but they are of a quieter nature eg orchestra. She is going to Bristol, which has a huge number of societies.

CabbagePatchCheryl Thu 18-Sep-14 15:39:29

She will be absolutely fine. She may find halls a little daunting but even there she will find like-minded people and obviously learning to deal with people who you might not necessarily choose as friends is part of the uni experience and growing up!

I bet she will find loads of friends and activities. Exciting stuff - wish I could do it all over again smile Good luck to her!

Littleham Thu 18-Sep-14 15:50:56

Thanks. She is very independent, so not worried about that aspect at all.
Just the drinking / clubbing / vomiting after too much wine / lads stuff. But hopefully she can avoid it after Freshers week (or even during it).

secretsquirrels Thu 18-Sep-14 16:52:26

DS has tried out the drinking clubbing thing recently, even went on a lads holiday to Kavos.
He tells me he has tried it but it's not for him and although he has some tickets for a couple of events at Freshers he doesn't plan on going clubbing again. He's picked out some sports / special interest clubs.

Littleham Thu 18-Sep-14 17:07:38

That's good to hear. Hopefully she won't be the only one who hates it then!

Notsoskinnyminny Thu 18-Sep-14 18:54:43

DD didn't drink when she started last year and hated the whole freshers let's drink anything and everything til we puke mentality of her flatmates. After xmas her flat settled down because the rowdier ones were massively overdrawn after an excessive first term and the slaggy girl got a boyfriend so didn't need to go out on the prowl so the clubbing stopped and they started going somewhere cheap about once a fortnight for something to eat and then back to the flat to play drinking games.

She's been on a few fresher nights since she went back so she can catch up with people but can't wait for everything to settle down.

Littleham Thu 18-Sep-14 19:27:36

She had to write a small statement of likes / dislikes, so if we are lucky she won't get the worst drinkers & clubbers. But if not, I'll tell her it may die down by Christmas.

Notsoskinnyminny Thu 18-Sep-14 20:15:39

I wish she'd been able to do that, we she had an awful first term and a half and I drank enough wine and gin for the pair of us essential after tearful, late night phone calls.

But she loves uni now, couldn't wait to go back and I've only had a handful of texts since Saturday and I can't stalk her twitter because I don't know her new username wink

Littleham Thu 18-Sep-14 20:28:09

That must have made you very anxious, but it is nice to hear that it has turned out well. Very character building if you survive it!!

We made the mistake of watching a home made you tube 'typical fresher' thingy. Big mistake. We couldn't believe some of the stuff & some of the attitudes - very plastered & privileged people....calling cheaper halls 'The Povos' or 'Poverty Hall'. shock Amazed the bus driver let them on his bus really. Hope it isn't as bad and that they are in the minority (they probably are just a small group).

Kez100 Thu 18-Sep-14 20:49:57

DD has been a fresher this week and I think the answer to your first question is yes. She has lovely flatmates who have allowed her to be herself (she drinks a little and doesn't like clubbing very much). However, they are not big drinkers at home but have been this week. My DD has enough money but only really for food and a bit extra - certainly not enough to blow £30+ every night.

However, your question two, she has not felt marginalised at all but she is very pleased she wasn't allocated some flats where it has been party central all week.

Most Student Union activities in Freshers' week seem to revolve around clubs which is a bit unfortunate as I expect there are many Freshers who just want to study and meet people normally. I suppose they don't have that much money and clubs will throw in things for Freshers to get them through the door and knowing where the clubs are for the future. Leaving the Union whatever money they have free to lay on the odd extravaganza - like the Ball.

My DD took DVDs and wished she had taken some board games too. The two nights they had in they wanted DVDs together and had a great time.

madeofkent Thu 18-Sep-14 20:57:44

DS's course tend to go out together once a week, to a pub where they keep board games, and nurse a drink or two all night as they play. His flatmates tend to keep big clubbing nights out for celebrations. Occasionally they go round to each other's houses and watch a DVD or something and take a few cans round, but he certainly doesn't seem to drink to excess, nor do many of his friends. He is a musician, you would think they would all be hellraisers, but in fact most of them are usually quietly composing all by themselves or listening to each other playing or to each other's compositions.

As far as I can make out, the ones doing business studies seem to be the worst!

Littleham Thu 18-Sep-14 21:05:04

£30 + a night shock That is so not happening! Bristol seems to be Club central for Freshers week, but there are loads of societies to join.

TheLeftovermonster Thu 18-Sep-14 21:24:11

Plenty of businesses do their best to ensure that they do!

MillyMollyMama Thu 18-Sep-14 23:00:36

DD went to Bristol and there are plenty of students who will go out clubbing a lot. It has a huge number of students from wealthy backgrounds and they can, and do, afford it. There are cheap nights on a Monday which a popular as long as you don't have a tutorial first thing on a Tuesday. Your DD will have to be strong to resist the drink culture of freshers week and it is full of partying. Staying completely out of it might not be a good idea. Does not mean you have to go all the time though.

If she is a music student, she might get in the orchestra. If not she will have to be brilliant and indispensable . DD found music clubs were for music students and hardly anyone else got a look in. There are lots of sports and other things to do that don't involve drinking though. It can be difficult to find the non drinkers in the catered halls apparently. A friend's DS has chosen to go to Bristol for the clubbing!!! No-one goes to the Union at Bristol although it has been refurbished. They have been useless at organising anything for years. The students organise their own balls in the faculties or halls. University is a time to try something different so cheap clubs are not that sinful! No-one studies in freshers week but it is a full on test of the new student's organisational skills and hangover recovery powers.

Littleham Fri 19-Sep-14 08:12:21

She is self catering & just not interested in drinking / noise / clubbing. Sounds like Freshers week might be a bit miserable.

Very good on the violin, so it would be a shame if the music was only for music students, but I guess she will find out one way or another.

crazymum53 Fri 19-Sep-14 08:57:59

Hi Littleham I went to Bristol Uni and still live there.
dd has played in one of the Bristol music centres which hold concerts at the Victoria rooms, where the Music Dept is based, and from what I can see on the noticeboards there is a good range of music groups.
Most music groups are accessible for non Music students. There are some orchestras where you need to audition for a place, but other such as Orchestral society, choral society where you just need to turn up.
Depends which self catering hall she is based in. The Stoke Bishop halls are some distance away from the club scene and as it was originally a Quaker area the only bars are in the halls and are fairly easy to avoid.

Littleham Fri 19-Sep-14 09:11:14

smile Thanks crazymum53. You have made me feel so much better. She doesn't mind which orchestra she gets into, as long as she can play, make friends and hopefully travel. There are also two language groups that she plans on joining and they seem to meet up for meals, conversation, quizzes etc. It is the whole drinking / what school do you come from thing that worries me.....

She is in Stoke Bishop, in one of the more basic self catering halls. Dropping her off today - she is as cool as a cucumber & I am having some last minute nerves. I'll update you on how it pans out.

secretsquirrels Fri 19-Sep-14 09:28:47

Littleham All the best for today, it feels a long time since this time last year UCAS and all that.....
They don't have a specific "Freshers Week" at DS uni. He goes next Saturday and lectures start at 9am on the Monday. He also had to write a little about himself for halls allocation and I encouraged him to be as honest as possible. He is hoping for a nice group who will socialise but not too outrageously.

Littleham Fri 19-Sep-14 10:26:56

Thanks secretsquirrels. Good luck to your ds as well & I hope he gets his nice group.

It has been great to have 'travelling companions' on this journey through UCAS / applications. (Might need your advice on STEP in a state school for my son, as it looks like we will be heading the same way with him.)

Kez100 Fri 19-Sep-14 10:32:45

The problem my daughter has found is that the societies don't really start until week 2. Week 1 has a Freshers Fair at the very end of it and that is where you sign up to the societies and next week (week 2) is when the societies start and, for most, the first session is free/cheap.

So, in week one, when you want to get to know everyone all you really have is the Union events (or other independent events which are even less controlled or in flat arrangements). As a not-very-heavy drinker it isn't the easiest of situations and very much comes down to the group you are with. Luckily they all met online before and she mentioned in there she wasn't a big drinker (they did too!) but at least it has come as no surprise and made her more easily able to be herself.

Littleham Fri 19-Sep-14 10:39:41

Thanks. I've warned her to expect this situation, so hopefully she will be able to tough it out. There seems to be a bit of a gap in the market for the non / lighter drinkers / non party animals.

Unfortunately she doesn't get allocated a flat number until she turns up today, so no chance to meet online. Probably advantages and disadvantages to this!

ijustwanttobeme Fri 19-Sep-14 11:32:16

DD met her flat mates online (University of Birmingham)prior to moving in. I think questions were asked (about socialising etc), when it came to room allocation?

DD likes going out, but doesn't want her home to be party central.

She is in the cheer leading team and has said, they party quite hard. However, at the cheer events DD said there was never pressure to drink or behave in a certain way. Even when they went to Spain at Easter, some got rat arsed and others just drank a little.

DD and her flat mates really gelled, and as they weren't heavily into drinking, did plenty of other social things, but still occasionally went to pubs and clubs.

Your DD will find plenty of people with the same interests as her.

Sometimes stories of drunken students having fun during freshers week etc, are just there to fill column inches.

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