Still have all those flyers from Welcome Week stuffed in a Domino’s pizza bag in your room somewhere, but haven’t actually had the chance to sort through them yet? Or did you have a society in mind but missed the first week and now you feel too awkward about going?
We’ve all been there — getting caught up in the rush of the first few weeks of the university year, and despite our good intentions towards learning a new skill or getting involved with a team, it just didn’t happen and now it’s probably too late to join.
Fear not! Most societies on campus will actually still happily take new members, and so it’s definitely not too late for you to sign up to that new team sport or begin that new hobby you’ve wanted to start for ages.
It’s very easy to get settled into the rhythm of life at university: wake up, class, coffee, dinner, Netflix etc. It’s all too tempting to just stay at home after walking all the way back to your house or halls and spending time making dinner. The enticing lure of binge-watching The Bodyguard and your bed close by is very appealing. The idea of heading back up to campus for the evening just seems like too much effort sometimes.
However, societies are such a brilliant opportunity to expand your friendship group, take a break from class, learn something new, and generally add another element to your week that doesn’t involve a lecture theatre. The opportunity is just too good to be missed.
Joining a society can also dramatically help your time management skills. When the only commitments you have are class and feeding yourself, you can suddenly find yourself with more free time than ever before, especially for those just starting university. It can be very strange to have no commitments to school sports clubs, scheduled study periods or, in most cases, family commitments apart from the odd Skype call.
Your time is really your own at university, which is a first for many, and can be extremely liberating or very isolating. The temptation to stay in bed instead of heading out on a Saturday morning, or spending your evenings in the company of various social media and streaming services can be very appealing when you have nothing else planned, especially as no-one is going to tell you what to do or when to do it.
Personally, I found my new found freedom very stifling when beginning university, the opposite of what I thought it would feel like. I constantly had free time, and with no set commitments I found myself feeling paralysed by the possibilities, and most of the time ended up watching Buffy on my laptop continuously. This also got me into extremely bad time management habits: with all the free time to get things done, I barely finished anything as there was abundant time to complete things, and therefore I never got round to them. It was only when I joined two excellent societies, and then had subsequent social engagements from them that my performance in class really improved.
I was able to maintain a better sleep schedule as I was busy and tired more, and much better able to hold myself to the ‘bed before midnight on weekdays’ rule. I wasn’t tired when I woke up, and was more engaged with life in Manchester in general. There were so many benefits of joining societies, and it’s not too late for you to start too!
Below are examples of societies that are still taking new members, but it’s certainly not exhaustive. Most societies have a Facebook page or email address you can use to contact them and ask if they are still taking new members, so don’t miss out on starting the sport you’ve always wanted to or trying a new hobby just because you think it’s too late, chances are it’s not!
One example is your friendly local academic society. Most undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses have an attached society. This is a great way to meet more of your course mates (especially if you do an arts degree and literally never see them), and these are open all year round. What’s even better is that you don’t have to go to your own course’s society. Are you a Creative Writing student who’s also really into Physics? Join the PhysSoc! You can keep on learning about and discussing a subject you’re interested in, even if you didn’t end up doing it at uni.
Languages societies are also a truly brilliant way of making friends, as well as learning that language you’ve always wanted to learn. These societies are usually a mix of native speakers and those who want to practise, so you get the opportunity to chat with someone who speaks the language fluently, and also enjoy learning about the culture of the country. Languages societies often organise themed food nights, as well as trips to sporting events and film/literature evenings.
Moreover, the University of Manchester Dance Society are still welcoming new members. This is a great one for combining trying something new with fitness. The classes are held locally, with options for beginners and advanced classes, and plenty of different styles! Bring a housemate along too, so you can keep each other accountable for getting out and trying something new, whilst not having to go alone.
The Choir and Orchestra society is made up of the university’s non-audition choir and orchestra, so anyone who’s brought their instrument or their voice can join. Singing in a choir is great for your health, as well as the social element, plus CAOS are know to have some excellent socials, including Disney Karaoke nights!