F E ATURES
September 2012 - Le Nurb
opinionated: Stereotypes and Other Liqueurs: Do you have to get drunk to enjoy University?
Should Universities Ban Freshers’ week?
ne night last year, I O was out with friends and someone offered me an
still remember the I excitement I felt before I started university. I wasn’t
alcoholic drink. I politely turned it down, explaining that ‘I was not thirsty’. In return, I was given a look as if to say I had ‘I LOVE JESUS’ tattooed across my forehead. Is it such a crime that I did not come to university for the excessive nightlife? Many people see moving away from home and starting university as a chance to finally spread their wings without the eyes of Mum and Dad and everyone else cramping their style. Some take this as an excuse to binge their lives away. Not me. Personally, I was given more independence before coming to university and got all of that out of my system - I think there’s a parenting tip there. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good night out and the odd drink here and there but I don’t smoke or do drugs.
“Why go through all the trouble of having an amazing time if you won’t even allow yourself to remember it the next day?”
I do not choose to do this for religious or cultural reasons; I just simply don’t see the point. I am not labelling or judging those that choose to do so – please, go ahead, be my guest – but don’t expect me to hold your hair up while you puke the night away in the loo. There needs to be a clear distinction here between those students that have a good time - be it in or out of the clubbing scene – and those that seem to only be satisfied when they are legless. Facebook and Twitter is teeming with comments from students from the latter group: ‘OMG can’t wait for Freshers’, already stocking up for a mad week’ ‘Gonna get smashed 7 days in a row #freshersweek’ Unfortunately, this stereotype is loud and kicking in university. I have witnessed some near atrocities and heard stories crazy enough to turn my head in disgust. Working as a student mentor for younger students, I often get asked this question.
“It can be hard for those not into drinking and clubbing to feel included or feel like they are making the most of their experience.“ It can be a laugh watching your friends get drunk and make a fool of themselves, but that soon becomes annoying and embarrassing when you are left playing the chaperone. I tell my mentees that drinking and socialising do not have to always go hand in hand. I think this is a common misconception that is causing more harm than good amongst young adults. Who said that you MUST drink to enjoy uni? Do I have to be a black gang member from a ghetto to enjoy rap music? Do I have to be a liar to become a good politician? (Maybe that wasn’t the best example, but you get my point). Those that believe you do I think are in the wrong place, for the wrong reasons and are probably mixing with the wrong people. Stop caring so much about what others will think and meet like-minded people through societies and other events, whatever it is that you are in to!
thinking about the degree or how I would get on with the work; it was all about Freshers’ week.
“I couldn’t wait to make new friends and party day and night” However, I must admit that Freshers’ week gave me much more then I was hoping for. No one prepared me for the tears and that empty feeling that home sickness leaves. Nor the panic I felt when it was over and I didn’t feel like I had made as many friends as I thought I would. Despite the ups and downs, I wouldn’t have changed it for anything; it felt like the first week of being an adult. The University of Bristol was considering cutting Freshers’ week down to three days because they thought students drank too much. Talk about stating the obvious, we all know that the majority of students spend most of Freshers’ drunk - but that’s their choice. The government and student bars have promoted smarter drinking; what else can be done?
“I think that universities should begin to look at the reasons behind why students binge drink, rather than blaming them for it.”
recycling always goes to Nando’s with a sombrero on
DANIELLA NZEKWE I drank a lot during my Freshers’ week, so that I would feel more confident when meeting new people. Plus I knew that I didn’t have to go home after. It is also worth remembering that not all students drink to the point of collapse. What about all of the other things that Freshers’ week has to offer? It gives you a chance to meet the people you have been talking to on Facebook. It’s a time to settle into your Halls, explore the campus and adjust to your new life. I remember bursting into tears on my second day in Halls, because I couldn’t get my internet to work. I went downstairs and a student contact came up to my room to help me. The student contacts are really superheroes because they are always willing to help and no question is too small or silly. Having that week to build support networks is really important, as this will help you to have a more successful first year. I do think that Freshers’ week could have a festival-style layout. It would be nice to have different bands and artists performing around campus. Not everyone likes clubbing or listening to the same type of music. Ultimately, Freshers’ week is what you make it. If you asked five people what Freshers’ means, you would get five different answers. My Freshers’ week was like a discovery of freedom and choice; everyone has the right to feel that. University is like a crash course in adulthood. It’s the first time that most of you would have lived away from home, and been in complete control of your life. That’s something to be celebrated. What do you think? What did Freshers’ week mean to you? The debate continues Twitter @presidiva_dani