Hello everyone. I’m Amy, I’ve just finished my final year of an Archaeology and Heritage Degree here at the University of York and I’m hoping to stick around for another two years to do a masters.
My time at York hasn’t always been smooth sailing. During my first year, I got diagnosed with a genetic disability, and the Covid-19 pandemic certainly shook everything up in my second and third year. Despite this, I have loved my time here at York (hence me wanting to stay for Postgraduate) and I owe a lot of the good times to societies.
What is a Society?
So let’s start at the basics. What exactly is society? Societies are the university equivalent of a club. They’re lead by the students, with funding from memberships and occasionally some money from the student’s union. There are hundreds of societies here at York with more appearing every day. Most departments have their own society, but there’s also loads of sports teams and special interest groups. There’s everything from the African Caribbean Society to Yoga Society and everything in between. There many different ways to get involved in societies; you can join the committee which will mean you have a hand in how the society is run, you can become a paying member or you can join in with Give It A Go week: a week where societies put on sessions intended for newcomers to come and try something new.
Most societies cost about £5 a year although many will let people come to a few events without checking if your a paid member, so don’t let money be an obstacle to getting involved. If you’re unsure you can check with the society and they’ll tell you what their rules are.
You can check out the full list of societies here: https://yusu.org/student-life/clubs-and-socs and if there’s something you’re interested in that isn’t already on this list then don’t worry, you can set up your own society! This leads us nicely onto…
My Societies Experience
I became involved in societies before I even came to York. The first thing that many students do when they get their acceptance email is to go online and find people on social media that might be starting with them, and I was no exception. I quickly began to realise that a lot of the conversations were about freshers week and alcohol, this made me nervous as I don’t drink. I set up a group chat for other people who don’t drink and by the time freshers week had rolled around there was an active group of us who were quickly becoming good friends. In freshers week we met up in one of the YUSU (student unions) bars and since then we’ve been meeting up once a week. At the end of my first year we officially became Sober Society (or SobSoc for short), we have about 30 paying members and 360 members of a Facebook group, we’ve won Best New Society 2020 and we’ve been featured in many news outlets such as the Independent and Nouse.
I’ve made lifelong friends through Sober Society and I look forward to our meet up every week. My university experience wouldn’t be the same without these people and I feel like I’ve been able to do something good for the University of York community at the same time.
One of the best things about societies at university is that there’s no commitment to go to every event. I’ve been involved in loads of different societies in different capacities, I was on the Archaeology Society committee as a PR representative for a year, SobSoc has done collaborations with Flat Earth Society, Social Self Improvement Society, Sewing Society and Humus Society. Personally, I’ve also been to Henna Society, Douglas Adams Society and Swing Dance Society events.
What do our members say?
As you can probably tell, everyone’s experiences with societies are completely different.
I asked some of the members of SobSoc to tell you all about their experiences with societies at York. As you’ll probably see many of them are involved in a few societies, which is common. I’ve kept all the responses anonymous and I’ve edited the grammar in some of these quotes, but they’re all the words of current students here at York.
I met my best friend at uni through our mutual interest in hiking. We met via the outdoors society and this became a regular way of meeting.Outdoors society and Jiu-Jitsu
Joining societies at uni was a great way for me to find like-minded people and get a bit more comfortable integrating into the university lifestyle. Some of the closest friends I have at uni are because I took the plunge and joined societies in my first year, and I think it’s a really good way of meeting ‘your people’Sober Society and Pole Exercise Society
As someone with less common interests and needs I’ve found societies essential for finding people I can share uni life with. The metal and alternative music society has been my go-to for a social life when sports bore me and the disabled student’s network has been essential to me when it comes to connecting with people who have similar needs to myself.Metal and Alternative Music Society and Disabled Students Network
Societies allowed me to meet new people whilst doing fun things. I’ve walked Malham Cove with Outdoor Soc and done scavenger hunts with Sober Soc and Harry Potter Soc. These allowed me to break away from what I thought a typical Uni experience would be to what I wanted it to be, made by the people I met through these experiences.Folk Society, Outdoor Society and Sober Society
I’m immunocompromised and it’s been challenging to safely meet other people. The societies have been great about holding online events and they have group chats as well. I’ve had people to talk to in good times and bad. Without the societies, I wouldn’t have had that social support this year. I’m grateful they are here for us.Disabled Students Network, Welsh Society, Mature Students Association, Math Society, Erasmus Society, Taylor Swift Society and Supporting Women In Science
Societies at university have helped me to make friends who let me be unabashedly ‘me’. Rather than only meeting people on my course or my flatmates I could meet people that I already have something in common. Dougsoc has let me be my loud and chaotic self without worrying about having to ‘fit in’ or seem ‘cool’ and ‘normal’. Sobsoc has proved that it is ok to not want to go out drinking and do the stereotypical student thing, and given me strong friendships that have made my time at uni so much better than it would have been otherwise.Archaeology Society, Sober Society, Douglas Adams Society, Flat Earth Society and Pantomime Society
I’ve met some of my closest friends and even my boyfriend through uni societies and they give me a place to find like-minded people and to feel like I fit in. It’s been a really useful way to meet people outside of my course and gives me something to do at uni other than just lectures and coursework I’m really glad I decided to go to a society event in my first year as my uni experience would have been much less interesting and less enjoyable otherwise.Douglas Adams Society, Craft Society, Psychology Society, Bee-Keeping Society, Quidditch and the Flat Earth Society
Being an international student, I came to the UK alone and knew no one, which made adjusting to uni life in the first few weeks difficult. Joining societies helped me make friends all the way back in the first year, friends who I still spend time with today, some of whom I live with.Sober Society, Literature Society, Malaysian Society, Theatre in Schools and Publishing Society
I hope that has given some of you an insight into society life here at York. From going along to one event, all the way to setting up and chairing your own society there’s something for everyone. Everyone has a unique experience but we all share one thing: that we’re just trying to have fun with like-minded people and make the most of our experience at University. There WILL be a group of people here at York that make you feel at home, there might even be several. I cannot encourage you enough to get involved in societies at York, my experience here wouldn’t be the same without them.
Read more student experiences of societies at York