Emily is a third year student, who now works for the Students' Union as a Welcome Respresentative, she has run and been part of multiple societies, run volunteering projects and was a winner at this years SU Awards. Read on as she shares her top tips for new students joining this September...
A bit of back ground, I completed a foundation year in first year and did not get involved at all! Huge mistake on by part, I went home frequently and the rest of my time was spent going from bed to uni and back to bed pretty much. 2nd year rolled around and I was actually starting my degree, having learnt the first time around I changed tactics I got involved in the SU, not only started working with them, I got involved in Societies and volunteering, all of which now are things that I have enjoyed doing and most are able to go onto my C.V so it was a win win change really.
Very cliché I know but you get free pizza… You get to know all the societies and sports clubs around at the uni so you already get a feel for the kind of things available. I gave myself 2 weeks to decide if I wanted to join anything rather than jumping in headfirst and signing up to everything, the fair gave me a chance to check out social media and training times etc.
The fair itself is a lot of information in one go but once you get over how busy it is, it’s a bit easier to navigate, I wouldn’t say to avoid stalls but if you’re conscious of not wasting paper sometimes instead of a flyer it was easier to give people a like on facebook or twitter etc, it meant I was kept up to date with opportunities rather than forgetting a piece of paper in my bag that I would come to find about 2 months later.
I found it very difficult in first year actually getting the motivation to go out and meet new people, Found I often would only go to an event if one of my housemates were going. Meaning I missed out on meeting some amazing people and getting more in touch with some of the societies that I wanted to join so I would definitely recommend going to at least a few day time events independently.
Getting involved in the SU was probably the best thing I could have done, everyone involved, all the societies and committee members are what make it, they’re your home away from home.
If you aren’t sure if you enjoy an activity, try it first, then you will know.
I would recommend you get involved in a campus/city tour. I won’t say that I learnt from experience but it definitely helps save so much time if you know your way around a bit better! And you get to know what is close to you etc.
This is also a very easy way of getting to know other people, not just the staff/students leading the tours but the people you wander around with, it’s easy to start up conversations on a tour as everyone is in the same boat really.
Highly vital. Find the closest pub to campus the Duke or 92 in Chelmsford. This is your hangout, after lectures, exams or just when you want to chill out. When you walk in you usually know at least 30% of the people in there, either they’re friends of yours, course mates, lecturers, anything goes and it’s a great way of just having a relax with people and chat outside of study times.
Most have a great social atmosphere with good food, good music and all your pals, Something which was definitely key in making the following years at ARU awesome.
Pubs around Cambridge are common, close and usually easy to get to, If in doubt, Spoons is always a good shout. The Duke and 92 also offer extra discount if you have a Totum Card!
Keep in touch with people at home. Getting stuck into university life is great, but honestly I missed out on so much in my first year because I was homesick, it’s a thing that can happen to anyone. But it’s something that usually would only require a phonecall, its okay to take a few minutes out to check in back home with a friend or family member.
I now write letters to people at home, its timeout from the world just thinking about what to tell my family. Setting up the Arts and crafts soc was awesome as I got to share this with other people and offer them the chance to send letters to their friends and family.
Don't be afraid to talk to someone if your struggling, the Union are great at directing you to the right people, helping you get involved or if at anypoint you are worried about your studies, you think you might drop out, or just need to talk to someone about your course you can book an appointment with our Independent Free Advice Service. This is run by the Students' Union so its confidential and separate to the University itself.
So maybe you read all of this and your still wondering, what is a Students' Union? Meet some friendly faces and find out more here: