I’m sure you will have heard it many times before, but university really does give you the chance to find yourself and meet your people. The way I did that was through joining a range of societies and taking part in volunteering projects. From sport to music to activism to Animal Crossing Society, there is so much to get involved in! No matter what your hobbies are, there is always the opportunity to continue this whilst at university. The number of sports teams at York are particularly impressive. The collegiate system at York means that you can enjoy a sport at a more relaxed level by playing for your college although there is still the chance to play in matches against other colleges. I’m here to share my student society experience.
Continuing with music
Throughout school I was a member of a brass band and orchestra – often competing up and down the country in competitions. Going to university, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue this hobby. But then I found Concert Band which gave me the opportunity to play my instrument in a much more relaxed environment. Playing in a band gives me the chance to meet like-minded people and do something fun and relaxing with my weekend.
Music felt something really familiar to me but going to university I wanted to try something new.
Trying something new
Activism was something I had always been interested in getting involved with, but living in a small town I have never had a chance to do.
Therefore, once at university, I joined the Amnesty International Society. In weekly meetings, we discuss different topics relating to human rights and we often have workshops and webinars. Recently we have covered topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the ‘Stop the Killer Robots’ campaign. I was so nervous at first because I felt out of my depth, but I have made so many good friends and gained so much life experience. Amnesty has also given me the opportunity to take part in student activism in the form of attending Climate Strikes. Living in a city such as York means there is always some form of activism going on especially as York is a Human Rights City.
Getting more involved
I loved attending Amnesty Society so much that I decided to run to be on the committee. I am now one of the Events and Fundraising Officers. This means I get to help plan lots of great fundraisers for the society which helps to bring the society together and raise money for charity. In the past Amnesty Society have run clothes swaps, quizzes and music nights. One of the many great things about university is that you can so easily organise your own events. Your social life is really what you make it!
Also, the Students’ Union (YUSU) will always support you in this by helping you advertise and offering their venues to hold your event in. I highly recommend getting involved in a society committee. It is a brilliant way to influence the society you are a member of. Plus it is an amazing thing to put on your CV.
This year I have taken advantage of one of the many volunteering opportunities that York has on offer.
I have attended crash courses with the charity OpenMinds to learn about different mental health conditions that impact children. Next term, I will be going into local schools with the charity to deliver lessons to children about mental health. As an aspiring primary school teacher, this opportunity is good for my career development, but it is also a great chance to feel like you are making a positive impact on the community. This helps you to feel part of the community in York, which makes you feel more at home.
Volunteering does not have to be a huge commitment. For me, volunteering with OpenMinds only takes up an hour a week and therefore is perfectly manageable alongside my studies. There are plenty of opportunities to complete one-off volunteering or to make a long term commitment such as to volunteer in a school. Therefore, I would highly recommend getting involved with volunteering whilst at university.
Overall, there are so many opportunities to get involved at York. I have only named just a few! While I’m at an Amnesty meeting my housemates may be at karate training or Louis Theroux Society! It’s not just a cliché – there really is something for everyone. Don’t be afraid to try new things as well as continue with old hobbies and your university experience will be greatly enhanced.
Read more student stories about societies