By Ellie Strahan, First Year, English and Classical Studies
The Croft Magazine // With so many societies to choose from, it can feel overwhelming. Ellie Strahan discusses how to make the most of what the SU has to offer.
On the surface, societies can be considered as entirely beneficial to overall student wellbeing at uni. They’re an opportunity to get out of your regular routine, to meet new friends, try new things and be more active. They’re a perfect opportunity to meet people outside of your course and halls, which can be vital for those who don’t get on with flatmates or have few contact hours within uni itself.
On top of this, the 400 societies the SU boasts means there is genuinely something for everyone; from rugby to quidditch, pole dancing to fashion sustainability. There’s also a massive number of volunteering opportunities, giving not only the chance to meet new people but also a huge sense of wellbeing that comes from helping others.
However, it can be quite a sweeping statement to say that all societies, regardless of category, are beneficial to your wellbeing at uni. Depending on what type of person you are, the suitability of every society can vary massively, and not just in terms of interests.
When starting uni, it can be really easy to get overwhelmed by the vast amount of opportunities available to get involved with. Going to the Freshers’ Fair back in September, I remember being drawn in by countless promises of pub crawls, quizzes, casual meetups and nights out, all while being united with other students by that common interest that got you to come in the first place.
However, in an experience which is pretty similar to a lot of others, I quickly found that many of these societies could be expensive (joining one sport cost me £100 for the year, which a lot of students just flat out can’t afford) or surprisingly inactive (one society I joined has only had one meetup in the four months since I’ve been at uni).
Whilst everyone is meeting each other and making new friends, feeling excluded from these opportunities can feel really isolating
For those who don’t drink but still want to socialise it can also be difficult, as a lot of societies are massively based around nights out. In my first week of uni, I remember being told by a second year that there was no point in joining most societies if we didn’t go out. I also remember a friend wanting to join her course society but feeling too uncomfortable because every social was based around drinking.
Whilst everyone is meeting each other and making new friends, feeling excluded from these opportunities can feel really isolating. With this in mind, it’s no wonder that you hear so many stories about people dropping out of societies within the first couple months of uni that they joined so eagerly back in September.
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New Decade? Why not do something different! 🌟 . . Whether you want to try debating 💬 hockey 🏑 creative writing 🖋 or Chinese Lion Dance 🦁 there's a Bristol SU Society out there for you. . . You can meet lots of our societies at the Refreshers Fair on 26 January, but it gets even better 🤩 The fair is kicking off Refreshers Week (because we didn't have enough fun at Welcome Week). Don't miss it!
Despite this, an increasing number of people are definitely becoming more aware of these drawbacks and are working to ensure that everyone feels welcome in these student-run societies. Of the five I joined in September, I only attend one of them now, but this is one that I genuinely enjoy going to. It makes deliberate efforts to be regularly running and include those who don’t drink or go out, which can make a massive difference.
There are also loads of opportunities to join different societies later on in the year if the first ones you joined weren’t for you. The Refreshers’ Fair is a great way to join some societies you hadn’t thought of before and there are a ton of Give it a Go sessions running throughout February, which are a perfect opportunity to see if a society is your thing before signing up. There will definitely be something for you, whatever you enjoy, and if things didn’t work out in the first term then don’t let yourself be disheartened.
Societies are such a huge part of what makes uni life so unique, and the benefits of putting yourself out there to try a few definitely outweigh the potential difficulties that can come with finding the right ones.
Featured image: UoB A Cappella Society
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