Hi everyone! As I promised in my previous blog post, I am going to talk about the societies York has to offer to its students. Like that you can all get an insight of what extracurricular activities here look like and you can start planning which societies you should join next year.
York has approximately 200 societies led by students that are recognised by YUSU (York University Student Union). Here’s a complete list of societies in alphabetical order. As you can see, there is pretty much everything and there is at least one society for each taste: from the Dance Society to the Doctor Who Society, from the History Society to the Wine Appreciation Society. I mean… look at that list… I am sure that there is at least a society that arouses your curiosity!
Now before you start panicking and going like: “OMG, there are at least 30 societies that I would like to join, how can I do that?”, I will explain to you how it works. At the end of Freshers’ Week, there is a huge fair, called (guess what…) Freshers’ Fair. Here all the societies will have a stand and you can sign up, without obligation and for free, to all the societies you would like to try out.
In addition, in the first week of the term, all societies activities are free, so you can try out as much stuff as you’d like without having to pay a membership fee. This project is called Give It A Go: it’s organised by YUSU and it happens at least twice a year (normally at the beginning of first and second term). Once you have tried out everything you can, you can make up your mind and decide which societies you really like and want to join (time-wise, I’d suggest not more than three) and just then pay the membership fee (that is normally not more than £5 for a year) that gives you access to all the society activities.
Of course, I am not in the position to write about every single society on the list, so I will just write about the two societies I am part of: the Latin American Society and the Drama Society.
The Latin American Society
The Latin American Society is the one closer to my heart. In fact, I am also part of the committee for the year 2016/17 in the role of Social Secretary (or, if you prefer a fancier title, Events Coordinator) which is basically the person who makes sure that the weekly activities run smoothly, who organises the parties and the social events and does the fun stuff. In case you were wondering, I don’t come from a Latin American country, I just love their culture. The society is very inclusive and we have all kind of nationalities: Latin American, British, French, German, Italian, Indian, Spanish.
Our weekly activities include Spanish Lessons for beginners and a conversation club for whose who are proficient in Spanish with mother-tongue teachers, a Latin American movie screening in original language with English subtitles, and our hugely successful Salsa class.
Occasionally there are some special events, like our monthly Latin Fiesta which involves a special class (normally Bachata or Salsa Cubana), Latin American-themed cocktails and a night of dancing to the rhythm of Latin American music. We also organise BBQs in summer term, and in the middle of the spring term (so right now!) we take part in ISA Global Week events. The Global Week involves a Cultural Performance in which International Societies perform typical dances (last year we won the first prize and this year we are working hard to win again!), a Food Festival and a Beverage Festival in which typical dishes and drinks are offered to the visitors.
The Drama Society (for short DramaSoc), as the name suggests, is a Theatre Society. They put on two shows every week in term time. On a Monday evening, Open Drama Nights stage original plays written and performed by students. These shows are free for everyone. There is also a bigger show every weekend which runs for three nights (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). These are normally well-know (or less well-known) productions put together in just four or five weeks. They are usually ticketed, but there’s a discount for DramaSoc members.
The weekend shows are big events, exclusively produced, directed, acted and organised by students. Around a production there are at least 20 people (between cast and crew) involved in each weekend show. I normally act as a Stage Manager for some shows and I am involved in the rehearsal process and the actual performances. It’s a lot of hard work, but it is fun. Moreover, I learnt a lot of useful skills, met new people and started considering to go into professional Stage Management after my degree.
Every week, on a Monday night, after the ODN, the company of the weekend show for that week gets into the Drama Barn (DramaSoc’s own Theatre) and has its get in. Then, on Tuesday is tech run, Wednesday and Thursday are dress runs and on Friday night the show opens. On Sunday, after the end of the last show, the company has the get out and on the Monday the next company for the next show gets into the Barn.
Of course, it is not easy to juggle all these extra-curricular commitments, have a part-time job and still do well on my degree. I am pretty busy and don’t have much time left for myself, but I like my life as it is. In the end, it is loads of fun and it all makes experience and looks great on the CV.
I really hope that this post will be useful and I am counting on seeing many of you in the Latin American Society and DramaSoc next year! 🙂