It is common knowledge that the main activity that takes place in Freshers’ Week is binge drinking. The 2008 Student Induction Fact-finding Report reports that almost half of students questioned would like more events without an alcohol focus.
What does this mean? It doesn’t mean that students don’t enjoy getting drunk; that seems to be an integral part of the first week at University. Instead, it means that many, with hindsight, would probably have preferred to have slightly less binging and slightly more non-alcohol fuelled social interacting.
I fall into the smallest of minorities in this, in that I was possibly the only person in the entire University who didn’t touch a drop during the week. Does this mean that I did not enjoy the week?
Far from it. Freshers’ week was, as it should to be, one of the best weeks of my life. The vast numbers of new people to meet, the large numbers of social events to attend and the opportunity to join societies for sports I did not know even exist, all amounted to a truly unforgettable five days.
Freshers’ week is possibly the best opportunity in your life you have define yourself in the knowledge that people will not judge you, an opportunity that few jump on with regards to the alcohol question. I managed, which is a credit to my flat-mates more than anything.
It’s possibly far easier to say that you don’t drink at all, rather than to say that you will only have a couple. Two will soon become three, which in turn will lead eventually to vomiting and a small amount of post-event memory loss. While abstaining is genuinely very difficult at first, it is possible, but only for those who are utterly determined.
No sooner do you put your bags down than a bottle is thrust in front of your face. The expectation is thus set before you upon arrival, almost certainly before you have encountered any of the college Welfare team.
As a result many well-meaning arrivals are dragged under, possibly never to return. The induction system, while effective at achieving its aims, does create forced assimilation. A re-think is essential.