If you’re like me, your Instagram feed is probably full of cheesy club photos, wine cheers-ing boomerangs (of which I have posted a fair few), and groups of guys and girls looking a little- a lot- intoxicated. This tends to live up to the student stereotype of clubbing into the early hours, and drinking away our loans. But we all know this isn’t the reality. The average student is generally very happy to stay in, watch a film, and order a Domino's.
Student Minds is a charity that is doing great work to promote student mental health across the UK. They offer advice on issues, ranging from eating difficulties to knowing how to support a friend who may be experiencing mental health issues. As part of their #bestnightin campaign, they are looking for students to send in pictures of their alternatives to a boozy night out during Freshers' Week.
Here are some of my suggestions for having the ultimate student night in (or at least, a night that doesn’t involve drinking and clubbing). This isn’t just limited to Freshers' Week. I think it’s really important to add in non alcohol-orientated events to your social calendar throughout the year. Not only will you avoid a hangover, but it’s a great way of making sure you are looking after yourself and your mental health.
Have a movie night
You can’t go wrong. After a long day of lectures and seminars, what could be better than settling down for the night and watching a film? You can tuck yourself up in bed and watch it on your laptop, or get your friends and housemates together in the living room. You’ll, of course, need to stock up on movie snacks to keep you going. Grab yourself a blanket, pop on the fairy lights, and enjoy the perfect cosy night in. If you want to make this a regular thing with friends, why not start a film or TV series and meet every week? It’s a great way to unwind, and is a really cheap night in.
Play some board games (yes, really)
Somehow, board games suddenly become cool again when you go to uni. My friends and I have spent many an evening getting a little too competitive during a game of Articulate or Monopoly. It’s simple, but it’s fun. And it’s a great way to pass the time if you have a free evening. You can bring your games from home, or club together and buy some for your house/ flat. And really, you’re not a proper student until you’ve played a game of Cards Against Humanity (buy it, you will have no regrets).
Cook group dinners
No, giving your housemates half of your oven pizza doesn’t count. Why not get a group of you together and cook a big sharing meal? Fajitas, pasta, maybe even a roast if you were feeling particularly like Jamie Oliver that day. Each of you can take on one job, and work together to create a proper home-made meal. Splitting the cost of the food will also make this very cheap. And if it all goes wrong… just order a takeaway.
Go bowling or to the cinema
I appreciate that this isn’t technically a night in… but it’s a fab way to hang out with your friends, with a very slim chance of having a hangover the next day. Some of my favourite uni memories are from doing things like this. Have a look online for your nearest bowling alley, and find out what kind of deals they have on during the week. Most places usually do a student mid-week ‘2 for 1’ games offer (this will cost you about a fiver). The cinema is a perfect place to go in the evening, or even during the day. Student tickets can be as cheap as £3 depending on the cinema chain and location. With so many great films coming out at the moment, why wouldn’t you go?
See what’s going on in your city
I guarantee that there are loads of events running near your uni, especially in the build up to the festive season. From fireworks night events, to Christmas markets, pop up ice rinks, funfairs, outdoor cinemas and crazy golf. Your city centre is full of new and exciting things to experience. It’s really nice to do something a little different from time to time that isn’t just the typical get dressed, get drunk, go to the club, get a McDonalds. And anything that helps you get into the festive spirit- whilst making long lasting memories with your friends- is an absolute bonus.
There is nothing wrong with going out and having a few drinks. But even though it may look like it on social media, no one can do this all the time. All of the above suggestions are great ways to put aside the stresses of student life, and to just have a good (sober) time with your friends. Look after yourself, and let yourself unwind.
Ellie is beginning her third year at Cardiff University, studying English Language. She also writes a blog ‘Forget the World’ about lifestyle and university experiences.
Note: 'Student Blog' pieces highlight the student perspective on issues relating to ProtectED. Consequently, this article reflects the views of the author and not ProtectED.