I’ve had a really enriching time so far at York. Arriving, I wasn’t particularly nervous but there was a clear variety of avenues that I could pursue and communities I could join to feel supported. My college, Constantine held a number of events weekly (including a free dessert night!!) and it was also through my college that I found one of my favourite activities at uni: sport.
There is a brilliant air of inclusivity yet also one of real competition in college sport and I’ve had a fantastic time playing for Constantine Football Club. I’ve had the pleasure of playing each week in a team with teammates who are undoubtedly far better than I am! On the pitch it serves as a nice break from my studies and the same can be said for off it. The socials and casual meet ups after games are great ways to make friends and it’s an honestly non-overly macho environment.
I study at the Department of Theatre Film and Television and the first term was fairly quiet to allow you to get used to university life, so I would use this period to really experiment and explore doing anything that excites you! I didn’t fully realise before I started studying here, but greatest thing about TFTV is how great the staff are. Some may envisage university as a colder, more isolated space than school and yes, you have plenty of independent study but the staff at TFTV are always welcome to field any questions or worries that you have and it goes a really long way in improving your study, making the difficult-to-grasp topics far more manageable. I’d also strongly encourage using your first term to do as much as you can independently, you’ll have the spare time and you’ll be gaining valuable experience.
There are a number of extracurricular opportunities to explore through the department, with a weekly round-up email highlighting these. It was through this I got a paid role as a runner on a shoot for The Guardian which ended up being one of my favourite experiences. Recently an opportunity to work on an ESports panel show just came up and I’ll certainly be throwing my hat in the ring to work on that. FilmLab (a department-wide student-run service) is another ace way to pick up some really nice kit to make whatever mad-hat film concept you can envisage, or just straight up experiment! I spent a whole day messing around with oils and paint to create some pretty cool (and pretty damn weird) footage.
There are also a bunch of masterclasses going on in TFTV from top industry figures including heads of effects companies and television producers and these are good opportunities to network and gain real insight. I also enjoy going to many of the wider universities’ open lectures; I attended one on nanotechnology in medicine and another on air quality, both were excellent and eye-opening! There have also emails from the Disney Channel offering a few opportunities for a year in industry. Alongside this, if you can secure your own placement within the industry, the department are willing to accommodate as long as its subject-appropriate!
Of course it’s not easy, and if you’re a little averse to opening up to strangers like most, just having a chat with everyone and anyone you can here really is one of the easiest and best ways to get the most out of your university experience. It’s a melting pot with people of all different nationalities, cultures and views of the world and even if you don’t agree with everyone’s viewpoints you can only grow by engaging yourself with as many fellow students as possible. Now in my second year I’m living with a Peruvian, an Austrian and a bunch of southerners. All of whom make my relocation from Leeds appear a little less impressive. It’s always nice to spend my days learning and drawing from such a variety of peoples.
I’d also strongly suggest just going full steam ahead with any society or activity that piques your interest even in the slightest. It’s important to remember there are no wrong decisions, and almost any group you join will be full of like-minded individuals and possible friendships. I left joining YSTV (York Student Television) until the last term of 1st year and wished I did it sooner!
Lastly I’d recommend getting out in the city as often as you can. It’s a lively city with loads of fascinating people and probably has a lot more going on than it might first seem! I’ve got pretty niche tastes in music and if you look out for certain events you can find events for Hip-Hop, Drum n Bass, techno, all the like! I even ended up going to a big band reproduction of the alternative Hip-Hop album Madvillainy, which just goes to show the dynamic and surprising culture the city has. Look around, find exactly what excites you and dive right in, it’ll feel like home before you know it.