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14th September 2018

A fresh take on Freshers

An alternative way to enjoy Welcome Week, without party focus. Jessica Blair debunks the myth that university excludes sober students.
A fresh take on Freshers
Source: Mushin @ Wikimedia Commons

This week, thousands of Freshers will descend upon Manchester. Many of them, no doubt excited to explore the university’s infamous breadth of opportunities for debauchery. Manchester’s far-reaching reputation for nightlife can make coming here seem overwhelming. This is a particular problem if such exploits are just not your thing, and finding alternative social events can seem daunting.

According to a survey from the Office of National Statistics released last year, over a quarter of 16-24 year olds have stated that they do not drink alcohol. Whether it be for cultural, religious or personal reasons, avoiding alcohol or preferring a different focus to your Freshers week needn’t be seen as a condemnation to the peripheries of university social life. There are plenty of ways to enjoy your Manchester Freshers experience, minus the booze!

One of the many benefits of going to University in a city like Manchester is that there is so much to do outside of the traditional student world. The city has a host of cultural activities: from multiple cinemas, and art galleries, to a great skate park that welcomes beginners. There’s plenty to do in the city that doesn’t revolve around alcohol. So, if you fancy a break from the endless leaflets for cheap drinks at Revs or free entry to Tiger Tiger, venture beyond Oxford Road and make the most of being in a new city by exploring the many fantastic opportunities Manchester itself has to offer.

Whilst exploring the city can provide plenty of ways to have fun without alcohol, Freshers week is also an important chance to immerse yourself in student life.  The University of Manchester has hundreds of societies catering to all kinds of hobbies, and meeting people you share a passion with could be a great way to get involved in student life and make friends without the focus on alcohol. There are also societies for which avoiding alcohol is an intrinsic part of their ethos, such as the Islamic Society. During Freshers week, ISoc will be hosting completely alcohol-free events including a Pyjama Party and LazerQuest trip.

This year there is also an ‘Alternative Freshers Week’ being organised by students from MMU, UOM and Salford University. This is a student led alternative Welcome Week that is working with LGBT societies, Feminist societies, and People & Planet societies on a number of incredible events. These include a DIY art exhibition, environmental activism workshops, and organised discussions focused on sexuality and gender diversity. ‘Alternative Freshers’ offers the chance to meet with fellow creatives and get involved in Manchester’s rich art scene and proud culture of social activism.

Manchester offers a wealth of ways to experience a Freshers outside of the booze fuelled stereotype. However, it is also important to note that being sober does not exclude you from regular Freshers events. While many new students may find a bit of Dutch courage helpful in going to parties and attending events such as Pangaea, it’s by no means a requirement. You’ll discover that despite expectations, there is no judgement for your choices regarding whether you choose to drink. Everyone is ultimately here to make friends and the overwhelming majority of your fellow Freshers won’t care if you’ve got a drink in your hand, they’ll just be glad you’re there.

More information regarding ‘Alternative Freshers Week’ can be found at:

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