Although university classes started this week, last week was ‘Welcome Week’ which meant the uni held a whole bunch of events to welcome all the new students, and ease the returning ones back in. I thought I’d start my blog with the biggest and busiest event – the ‘Fresher’s Fair’, aimed to help freshers (first years) see all of the clubs, societies and sports groups the uni has and choose which ones they want to join. For me, this was a particularly busy time! Me and my house mate are this year’s new Co-Presidents of Film Society, meaning that we are in charge of the running of our society, including organising our booth at the fair. We had also just moved into a new house and so everything was all quite panicked, but we managed to pull it off!
It was personally very important for me to make sure our booth was as good and welcoming as it possibly could be, because when I first came to the Fair, two years ago, I was very nervous. I had been too shy to go to any events before the fair, and my flat mates were all very private people so I didn’t know many people, apart from two I’d already met from my course. I mainly shuffled around the fair with my head down, only looking up occasionally and not talking to many people. I finally caught the eyes of two guys at the Film Society booth, who had a very modest stall, and they told me about their society. It was very causal and you just had to come along on a Thursday evening, and they would just watch a film and then go and socialise afterwards. It sounded perfect and incredibly low commitment, in case my studies got in the way, so I pinned their flyer to my pin board and waited until the following week.
It wasn’t the only society I joined, as each year I join new ones, and new societies are made. However, it was Film Society that became my favourite part about university, the two guys running the stall turned into two of my best friends and I met so many more people and friends through the society. When I made a couple of other friends through my course and other events, friends who I am now living with, I introduced them to the society and I soon had a big, very close-knit group of friends. In my second year I was the society Secretary, meaning I was in charge of all the emailing and then this year me and my house mate decided to split the Presidency role.
The best part about the Fair is that everyone is always very welcoming, they even have a quieter hour at the start of the Fair for those uncomfortable with large crowds, and there is always a lot to get involved in.
One example of this are the social societies. Film Society comes under this title, but others include the Harry Potter Society, as pictured above. I joined this society last year and they run events like a Sorting Ceremony at the start of the year and a Slug Club once a month. They also have Quidditch tournaments between the houses which are so much fun! Other social societies include: Lego Society, Game of Thrones Society and Baking Society, among many, many others.
There are also faith societies and academic societies. These include a very wide range of faiths who also organise their own events, and the academic societies have groups for all the courses taught at the university. There are so many societies, you’d never be able to join them all, or even hear about them all! There are also recreational societies which tend to either do more specific activities or use their time to make or create things. Pictured below is the Knitting Society, but there is also a Medieval Re-enactment Society and Games and Video Gaming Society and a Parkour Society.
There are so many types of societies, I could go on all day about them. And the best part is that if, even among all these societies, you can’t find the one for you then you can set up your own! The Student’s Union, who work with the students at uni to improve our experience will help you out and it’s so easy. Some new societies this year include the previously mentioned Game of Thrones Society and also a Disco Society who kept us all energised through the fair with their non-stop music and dancing.
In addition to societies there are also sports to join, and these are so varied you will undoubtedly find the sport you enjoy or love. I got involved with Archery a bit last year, but have decided that this year I’m going to become a full member and turn up to practice a lot more often. There are also ways to do sports without joining a club which is more casual, or ways to sign up to clubs and leagues and compete and train a lot – it’s entirely up to the individual. Outside classes and studying, the freedom university gives you allows you to choose which ways you want to spend your time.
Overall the Fair is chaotic and overwhelming but undoubtedly one of the most important things I attended when I joined university. Inevitably I signed up to way more societies than I could have ever possibly attend but that doesn’t matter. You get to meet a massive range of people of different ages, cultures and courses and, like me, these people can end up being some of your best friends.