Being a teetotal student is a little against the norm but there are plenty of us. Here’s my experience, offering some tips to ease your mind.
I’ve never liked alcohol. I’ve never enjoyed the taste, how it made me feel, or how unpredictable it made certain situations, so I don’t drink or smoke or anything. That’s not to say I judge anyone who does, it’s just not my cup of tea (a drink I always reach for), but it’s often meant I’ve felt like the odd one out with a real case of FOMO. I was really excited to start university and then one day, it hit me: I’m never going to fit in.
For those of you that don’t know, being teetotal, or a Teetotaler, is someone who abstains from drinking alcohol. Some of the most common reasons for being teetotal include health/medical, religion, or philosophy. Sometimes, in cases like mine, it’s as simple as the taste. Although I’ve always been confident in my choice, you may be able to see why I was concerned.
If you’re sitting there feeling that same concern, rest assured that my university experience hasn’t felt any lesser because of it.
You’ll find that in your first lecture, or induction session, there will be icebreakers. So, I seized the opportunity there and then to be open about my choice. Sure, a few people had questions, purely intrigued about the concept and my reasons behind it, but that first leap really helped going forward. My cohort recognised my teetotal status when organising events and activities so that I didn’t have to miss out all the time.
University clubs are another great way to socialise without the obligation to drink! My university offered a real variety of clubs for those with shared interests, including singing, every sport under the sun, and anime. There was something for everyone. Joining a club that you’re interested in means making friends with like-minded people. The best thing is if there’s a club you want that isn’t there, make it! Lots of universities are open to new club ideas. Being teetotal doesn’t mean being unsociable.
And what do students love just as much as pubs? Coffee shops! Organising study sessions or catch-ups at a local coffee shop meant I still saw my friends who do drink and kept well-caffeinated for all my early morning lectures.
Naturally, I gravitated toward others who had similar likes and interests as me. Now, quite a few of my friends are also teetotal or don’t drink alcohol a lot. I thought I would be the only one, but the more I was open about it, the more I found people who felt the same way.
Of course, I’ve encountered peer pressure, people who’ve said, ‘go on, just one?’, but these people either learn how unhelpful that is, or they’re just not meant to be your friends.
I won’t lie, I still get nervous when I tell new people about being teetotal. Mostly, everyone is very polite and simply curious, however, that isn’t always the case. But that’s part of being a little different, and it won’t stop me from educating others about it.
Your time at university is your own, so enjoy it how you want to! If that’s going to the pub, or sitting at home with a good book, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you did what you wanted to do.