Heading to university can be a very exciting time for new students.
Taking your studies to the next level - often in strange and unknown surroundings - can seem overwhelming, however.
With so many opportunities opened up to you, how is a student to know how best to make the most of it all this Fresher's term?
Joining a society can be a great way to integrate yourself into new surroundings and make friends along the way.
Most institutions have hundreds of groups to choose from - it would be impossible to take part in them all.
The best thing to do is to work out your own personal priorities - what are you looking for in a society? Careers contacts? Fitness? A good drinking buddy?
Here are some of the categories they fall into.
Keeping physically active
Aside from competing in the inter-university leagues, there are many different ways of keeping fit.
You can counteract heavy drinking schedules and academic-induced stress with classes like yoga, zumba or even hill walking which are a boost for morale and a great way to meet new people.
University is a great time to try something new, so why not try a martial art or ultimate frisbee?
Thinking about employers
The job market is increasingly difficult to enter for new graduates so thinking about how to boost your employability through the societies you join is a good idea.
If you want to become a lawyer, join the law society, an engineer, the engineering society. If you’re not sure what career path you want to go down, join a society that improves your transferable “soft” skills.
Many employers want to see evidence of leadership skills and organisation. Take on a position of responsibility in a society so that you can learn how to manage people.
Making a difference
Join a society which volunteers in the community. Have an aptitude for music or sport? Get into local schools and inspire children to get into what you love.
The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London has over 25 volunteering and humanitarian societies, including, SOAS Against Human Trafficking and Students Against Incarceration.
Learning a language
Broaden your cultural boundaries by brushing shoulders with native speakers of, let’s say, Spanish. As you learn your new language you’ll be forming new connections, improving your employability and possibly travelling abroad.
You could even discover that you have a different personality when speaking a foreign language.
According to New Republic, academics Jean-Marc Dewaele and Aneta Pavlenko asked over one thousand linguists whether they “feel like a different person” when they speak another language. Approximately two-thirds said that they did.
You’re only young once, so they say, so enjoy it while you can. Not all society memberships need to be especially career boosting, or serious - far better to make the most of all the free time left over for something fun and unusual...
The Durham University Assasins’ Society involves members “hunting and killing each other across Durham using a variety of safe 'weaponry',” according to the society’s website.
“Some members turn into cool, calm, collected and ruthlessly efficient killing machines, whereas others become jibbering wrecks, torn apart by paranoia, lying awake at night huddled close to their excessive arsenal of destructive weaponry.”
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