Your uni experience doesn’t have to include alcohol (a shocking revelation)!

By Laura Dowson, BA (Hons) Illustration, 2nd year.

So you’ve heard that you have to drink and party 24/7 to fulfil a typical university lifestyle. (Yawn.) You are wrong. Shock – but some people actually don’t like to drink. It could be for a medical reason, you could suffer from horrific hangovers (me) or it might just be a personal choice. All of these reasons are okay and completely valid! If drinking isn’t your favourite hobby or you’re searching for other things to do in Sheffield as a student, I think I can offer some fun alternatives, because (another shock) you don’t have to be bladdered to have fun guys.

Food, food and more food
Grab a friend or friends and go out for food! There are so many cool places in Sheffield you can go. I recommend Kommune – a food hall that has recently opened. It has so many different food stalls to suit everyone and even a bar should you or a friend fancy a drink.

A great alternative is to invite people over for a takeaway at your place or go to a friends and order a bit of everything! Just pig out if that’s your thing, have a chat and maybe play games. What’s not to like?

I recommend ‘The Treehouse Board Game Café’ across the road from Aldi as a happy medium between going out and staying in. There are hundreds of board games to choose from, and it’s free for students to book a table before 7pm each Wednesday, and half price on Wednesday evenings. It has a bar with soft drinks (and alcohol) and food, and it’s a nice, wholesome atmosphere where people can have a chat and play some good old fashioned games.

The pub for games and quizzes
Just because you aren’t drinking doesn’t mean you can’t participate in a pub quiz alongside your friends, regardless of whether they’re drinking or not. The Frog and Parrot do a music quiz every Wednesday at 9pm with free entry, and The Hideout does one every Monday. If you think about it, being sober for a pub quiz kind of gives you the edge? Everyone loves a bit of friendly competition!

For pub games I recommend The Cavendish as it has Pool tables AND board games (including Cards Against Humanity) to hire while you’re there. I also recommend The Common Room as it has a lot of pool tables and TVs if you’re a fan of sport. It’s also located on Division Street which has a few cute independent shops to explore such as Mooch Vintage and Vulgar.

Going ‘out out’
If you don’t want to miss out on a night going ‘out out’, I recommend a Leadmill silent disco. I have done this sober and had such a good time! You really don’t need to be drunk to enjoy a room full of people listening to completely different music and making fools of themselves – it’s really quite entertaining! Plus you don’t feel pressured to interact with people who are absolutely bladdered because you have headphones on. You can still enjoy what Sheffield’s night life has to offer, but I would also totally understand if being around drunk students when you are sober would be slightly annoying.

Nature in Sheffield
Explore Sheffield during the day – it’s one of the greenest cities in the UK. Visit the Botanical Gardens off Ecclesall Road, or the Winter Garden in the city centre. Take photos, or just chill.

If animals are your thing, there are now TWO cat cafés in the city centre where you can go and have tea and cake! Heeley city farm is close by too. In summer you can swap drinking in beer gardens for ice creams and music in a park – it’s really not such a bad alternative!

Take advantage of the student bus fare and take a bus to the Peaks or Castleton. Try not to feel like you are only limited to the city centre. There’s a whole, beautiful South Yorkshire to explore while you’re a student here.


In conclusion – just don’t feel like you’re less fun as a person just because you aren’t necking 15 Jäger bombs every other night. It’s fine if you do and it’s fine if you don’t. The choice is entirely yours.