10 things you really should do before you leave university for good
There's more to these three years than drinking and sleeping, and you owe it to yourself to find it
Harrison is a political journalist and second year History and Politics undergraduate. He edits Exeter University's student newspaper Exeposé, having written for a number of publications, including The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and The Egyptian Gazette.
Wednesday 22 January 2014
University is a notoriously diverse place, but whilst virtually all students rave about it, some come away with a tinge of regret, having not experienced many of the vast array of opportunities on offer.
So here are 10 ways to make the most of these three years of spare time and suspended reality – not all of which need involve copious quantities of alcohol.
Do something mad on a night out
“Remember that night we abducted a llama?” That's how the conversation will go in 20 years' time for these French teenagers. And it's these sorts of random antics which make for great fun on the night and numerous laughs in years to come. Unique experiences of that ilk will be the things you remember – not whether you got 60 or 61 in your latest mind-numbing essay.
Visit friends at another university
Trips like these are so much more than the old classic cliché "a great opportunity to meet new people" might suggest. Granted, you will probably make for a novel new attraction for local students for a night or two, but seeing other campuses is a great insight into how varied university life is for students nationwide. You can catch up with old friends, take some time out from studying and explore a new place. And there is even the potential for a road trip too.
Join a sports team
More clichés about keeping fit and all that jazz are obvious, but the camaraderie that team sports bring is just as important. The infamous socials – perhaps sport's biggest attraction – are another unique experience you might regret missing out on.
It can seem as if student bodies only ever talk endless drivel about how many societies there are at the university and why you should make the most of them, but there is a reason for that: some of them are actually pretty good (though, lets face it, most are borderline average at best). The quirky ones offer the chance to do something different, notably doing those outdoor trips you have been planning since the previous decade. Most universities have an expedition society, or variations of it, which can take you up mountains, cycling or hiking. A number of groups even do subsidised trips abroad, so take a quick gander at what is on offer and there is bound to be something you fancy trying.
Watch some student performances
All artists have to start somewhere - Coldplay formed at UCL, and Queen did the same at Imperial - so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that you might see future stars by checking out a student band. Universities tend to have a thriving arts scene, from music to theatre and comedy – all of which are a good chance for more relaxed socialising. One for the hangover, perhaps.
Take part in a protest
Students have long been characterised as a rowdy bunch of lefties, but politics is a part of university life that evades many. Given the privilege of time, which numerous members of the public do not have, and the idealism of youth, students can positively contribute to grass root politics. As individuals, political activity can be hugely educational too, whilst also providing a sense of doing something meaningful. Larger protests in big cities potentially have the added bonus of being a good excuse for visiting friends.
Prank your mates
Most students are fairly jovial during their degree, so a bit of light-hearted fun can only really go down well. Juvenile classics like filling a room full of balloons or leaving cups of liquid outside doors tend to hit the spot nicely.
Write/say something controversial
Student media is a great chance to put something contentious out in the open, in a relatively calm environment and with comparatively limited repercussions. Student newspapers, radio and television present a valuable platform for alternative opinions to be heard and particular topics discussed – and if you are the one doing it, it will be a subject that matters to you. Poking fun at prominent figures, criticising a university initiative or putting forward a radical political opinion might not change the world (or your university) but it could get some of your friends to actually think, which could make for a nice change, at least.
Go to an edgy venue
University is the ideal opportunity to try new things, so while nights at the student bar or biggest club in town are fairly safe bets, you might just find a hidden gem by varying your venue. Fringe events are often the ones you hear people waxing lyrical about, so the effort of trying everything once will probably pay off in the end.
Revisit first year accommodation
We have all taken a moment to wonder who got our room in halls after we left. Curiosity could be satisfied by getting to know them and reminiscing about life as a fresher, but actually doing so is highly unusual. Realistically, said person is probably quite interested by what you got up to as well, but knocking on their door is liable to end in a massive cringe fest, so being savvy about how you might meet works for both of you. Getting into a party there or wandering by after a night out is probably as a good way as any, but it is that chance meeting we would all rather occurred.
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