It can be daunting moving to a new place for university, but joining societies can be a good way to meet new people who have similar interests to you. First-year is often filled with new and unfamiliar experiences, and so joining a society can also be a good way to create a routine and be part of a community. Societies are an integral part of university life and are a great way to meet a range of people you may not have normally met – people who don’t live in your accommodation or do the same course as you, for example. There are many different types of society, and these different types will suit people with different interests.
Societies are also a great way of forming a deeper connection with people that you may not be able to form by meeting people in environments such as lectures or clubbing, as you can have proper conversations and take part in activities. They are also a useful experience to put on your CV, as it shows you have interests outside the academic subject you are taking. There will also be opportunities to apply to be on committee later in the year. Being on a society’s committee gives you some responsibility and requires organisation and teamwork, which are also valuable skills.
For each subject taught at the university, there is usually a society related to this subject. It can be a great place to meet people who do the same course as you and can also help you develop your knowledge of your subject, by introducing you to topics which you may not have studied in lectures. Subject societies events ranging from bar crawls to guest lectures.
However, it doesn’t matter whether you actually study this subject, you can still go even if you’re just interested in the topic. Subject based societies are also an opportunity to learn about something you don’t know much about by other people who are passionate about the topic.
There are also a range of different societies for different interests and hobbies. They can be as varied as an Acapella society to a Cocktail society. These include societies based around topics such as food and drink, media, music, games and many more. It can be a chance to try something new or a chance to keep up with an old hobby or interest whilst you’re at university.
A sports society can be a brilliant way of making friends whilst also having the added bonus of being a way to keep fit. Exercise is also a great way to help your mental health, with those who are regularly exercising facing lower levels of depression and anxiety. It can also help manage stress and help improve sleep. It can be very easy to get into a rut of just staying in your halls at the beginning when everything is unfamiliar, and so taking part in a sport can help you to get outside and explore.
Sport societies often have regular training schedules and so this can help develop a routine whilst at university. Being away at a university is often the first time in most people’s lives that they don’t have a set structure over their days. It can be disorientating being without a set routine and sport societies can be an excellent way to carve structure into a week.
Universities also offer many different religious societies for many of the mainstream religions. Religious societies are a way to connect with people with similar beliefs to you and also to develop your relationship with religion. It can be comforting to continue what may be a large part of your life back home to university. To have the familiarity of a religious community can help many people to feel less lost whilst moving to university. Many religious groups don’t just organise activities that are strictly related to religion, often there are social activities such as walks and volunteering in the local community. You also don’t have to practice the religion of the society you go to, joining a religious based society of a religion you are not part of can be an excellent chance to explore a different way of thinking.
A society which is based around volunteering is a great choice because it is not only social but also fulfilling. This can include services which help your local community or groups that are based around helping students at your university. They provide opportunities to help others, whilst also meeting people at your university who care about similar issues to you. It also can give you useful experience that can help when applying to jobs.
[Editor’s Note: I might be biased, but, volunteering with Birmingham Nightline is a great way to get involved in a society. Applications to train with us are currently closed, but keep an eye on our Facebook page if you’re interested to see when they open again!]
It can also be incredibly rewarding to support a cause you believe in through a campaigning society, whether it be political or social and university societies are an excellent place to start. Universities are known for having active student communities, which hope to enact change in the wider world. It also gives you a chance to meet other people who share similar passions and worldviews.
To round off this post, I would thoroughly recommend joining a society when you come to university. I found that they were the best way to help with homesickness as they helped me to feel involved in the student community and meet lots of new people. I also personally found that it helped me make a lot of friends and also solidify other friendships from people I met in other ways. Societies are a really important part of student life and can give you an opportunity to take part in a diverse range of activities and interests.