How to Survive College Without a Sip of Alcohol



When you think of college, what comes to mind? For some, it’s finally studying what you want, late nights spent in old libraries, or making lasting friendships. But for many, college equates to partying, and moreover, alcohol. Nearly every movie or TV show about college students depicts them drinking – excessively. Whether it’s giant frat parties or divey bars, you are bound to confront alcohol at some point during your college experience. But what do you do when you can’t or have chosen not to drink alcohol?

For the entirety of the 2015-2016 school year, I studied abroad in Paris. Being of age to drink made alcohol a regular part of my lifestyle, and was the center of my social life. Over the summer, however, I contracted a virus that caused me to become extremely ill from drinking. Even one glass of wine meant I was sick to my stomach the whole next day. I desperately sought out doctors before school started, but no one could figure out the problem. When school did roll around, I was confronted with a choice: go out sober while all my friends got drunk or stay in alone. Thankfully, I eventually learned how to keep up a social life and entertain myself without alcohol. So if you are for any reason in college and not drinking alcohol, consider these tips to get you along.

1. Catch up on TV shows

Now this may seem a little obvious, but when you’re working hard in school it’s normal to slack on keeping up with your shows. Even when I need a break from my schoolwork, I tend to just rewatch a comedy I’ve already seen (The Office, anyone?). Not going out every night means you can seriously binge on those dramas that have been on your list for ages (Westworld! Stranger Things! Game of Thrones!) Just make sure you don’t go too crazy and go to bed at a decent hour.

2. Go to the Movies

Stay up to date with all of your Film Major friends and go to the movie theater! This is a fun and relatively cheap outing that you can get your friends to join in on. Whether it’s the latest Marvel movie or a gritty thriller, the movies are a great nighttime activity.

Pro Tip: Check if your school offers student discounts for movie theater tickets, or go to theaters that offer discounted tickets to students!

3. Read a Book

To some this might sound lame, but I know I miss reading as much as I did when I was a kid. I always chalk it up to being too busy, but after having hours free every weekend, I had no other excuse. Mull around a bookstore (which can be a fun activity in itself) and pick out some stuff that looks interesting to you. Soon enough you’ll be so focused on the story in front of you, you’ll forget going out was even an option!

4. Cook a Meal

Turn on that Food Network and get cookin’! Assuming you have a kitchen, making a meal is a great way to bond with friends without the pressure of alcohol. It’s also super cheap! Each friend can buy one or two of the ingredients and then help cook it together. Or if you’re like me, the savvier chef of your friends can do the cooking, while you volunteer to do the dishes.

5. Get Move Involved with Clubs

The sober life can be a lonely one, so maybe it’s time to make some new friends! Many clubs are “dry” and offer fun, sober activities, and may be philanthropic and beneficial to others! If it’s earlier enough in the year, check out club fairs to see if there’s anything you might be excited about. Nothing piquing your interest? Start your own club! Most schools are very accommodating when it comes to starting clubs, and have resources to help you reach out to people that might be interested in joining.

6. Delete Your Social Media (Or at Least the Apps)

RELATED: 5 Ways to Detach Yourself from Social Media

This is probably my biggest, most helpful tip. One of the hardest parts about not drinking isn’t the absence of consuming alcohol, but not being with your friends to drink it. FOMO almost directly stems from seeing posts on social media. So if you know you’re going to stay in that night, do yourself a favor and delete Snapchat and Instagram. You’ll be so much more engrossed in whatever activity you’re doing instead, you’ll hardly think about your friends getting sloshed at some dingy bar without you.


Many of these tips are alternatives to going out with your friends, but it’s also entirely possible that you go out and simply not drink. You don’t need to drink alcohol to have fun, and you’ll also save so much money. Just make sure you don’t get taken advantage of and become everyone’s babysitter!

Best of luck and happy sober college life,

Antonia Becker

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