In this blog I will talk about my university experience of joining the student newspaper Nouse. Despite my initial nerves in first year, this decision has shaped my university experience for the better.
Starting university can be daunting and I remember the mixed emotions of excitement and nerves very well. I recall the advice that family and friends gave me, to get involved with everything. Whether it’s a hobby or sport you’ve done for years or something new, university is the perfect place to get stuck in!
With over 200 societies at York, there really is something for everyone. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to get involved with student media. I’d always enjoyed writing and I couldn’t think of anything better than seeing my work in print. Having walked around the Freshers’ Fair, I decided that Nouse was a society I wanted to join. Although I was looking forward to joining, I was also nervous. I thought everyone else would be more confident and much better writers than me. Despite this initial reservation, I knew that I needed to take every writing opportunity with both hands. I went along to the start of term elections with a new friend I had made on my course.
My election experience
The main elections happen at the start of each academic year during which all positions go back up for grabs, no matter who holds them at the end of the year. To run for a position, you have to give a short speech about why you want the role. This is 1 minute for editor roles and 30 seconds for deputy roles. In first year, I attended the elections in person and I remember watching my friend’s speech with admiration as she was able to speak confidently without a script. I, on the other hand, was much more nervous and made a few mistakes when trying to deliver mine.
However, at the end of the night despite not getting the position I ran for I remember being proud of myself regardless as I pushed myself out of my comfort zone by doing public speaking.
Elections can be daunting and I don’t want to sugar coat this especially if it’s your first one and like me, you’re not the most confident person in the world. However, they make for a good experience and a few elections down I now actually quite enjoy them.
On the first election night, I stayed behind at the end and offered to fill a vacant role. I knew that the experience would be invaluable and would help me to run again in the future. This was the right choice, as by being on the editorial team I got to take part in some amazing experiences. This included going to the BBC Radio York building and featuring on the radio. I was also able to attend the Christmas Formal which was held at Ask Italian in York. This was very enjoyable, as I got to know some of the editors I hadn’t had chance to speak with.
A memorable, lockdown experience
Despite holding a position, I reached the start of the third term without writing a a single article. The fear of my writing not being good enough held me back but lockdown eventually gave me the push I needed. After writing my first article and seeing it uploaded, I certainly got the bug for it. By the end of summer I had written over 20 articles. All you need is a willingness to try and you won’t look back. In the July by-elections, (mini elections held to fill vacant positions and allow editors to move around the team) I ran for Arts Editor. This was a role I had always wanted but didn’t feel it would be possible to achieve. I was successful and this has been the highlight of my university experience.
Interacting with so many amazing people was a real perk of the role. I even set up a number of interesting interviews, including with the journalist and author Helen Russel about her new book. Now, I have written 30 articles and have been lucky enough to see my work in two print editions which is really exciting.
To top it all off, I recently won two awards at the Yuma’s (YUSU Student Media Awards). This is something I could never have imagined when I first joined back in first year. As well as the writing experience, another highlight of my time at Nouse has been the invaluable friendships with other students. Their advice and stories at the paper but also academically have been so helpful and I’ve really appreciated their guidance.
If I had to pass on one piece of advice it would be what I was told in my first year. Make sure to get involved with as much as you can! My university experience wouldn’t have been the same without Nouse. Even if none of your flatmates want to join a particular society, I dare you to be brave and sign up regardless. You might be worried about making new friends in a society at first, and this is totally normal. People within the society are likely to be good friends already but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more! The more you get involved and start conversations with people, the more you will become integrated and you might just make some of your best friends by joining a society.