1. There is something for everyone. With over 200 societies to choose from and 60+ sports clubs at Cardiff uni, you’re never short of choice. From the Harry Potter society to the Speleology guys, the fresher’s fair should have shown you that’s there’s plenty of options. A lot of clubs say they cater for all abilities, and in most cases that’s true, but some are more beginner-friendly than others. Especially the novelty sports. Chances are, not many people have done an awful lot of lacrosse or dodgeball before, so you can bond with your new pals over how inconceivably bad you all are. But that being said, if you fancy something more competitive, again, you’re not short on options. If you haven’t noticed already, most lectures on a Wednesday cease around midday, to allow time for competitions and matches, and the truly committed can even devote Saturdays to running off that hangover from hell.
2. Meet people. Clubs and societies are a great way to meet new people. University is a big and scary place. You’re not at school anymore; you don’t have to sit with people you don’t like. And as liberating as that is, it can be quite intimidating. Upon joining a club, you’ll be surrounded by likeminded people who have (at the very least) that one interest in common, and you can work up from there. Further to this, most degrees have a course based society, so if you want to meet people on your course and bounce some degree enhancing ideas around, it’s the perfect place to start.
The university social scene is thriving, and you can immerse yourself in it in so many ways: You’ve befriended your flatmates, some course mates and probably one of two drunken pals in the toilets of Glam. Clubs and societies can provide you with a whole other friendship group. Not to mention the socials. Primarily on a Wednesday night, but with day trips and weekend activities often included too, rumour has it that these will be some of the best nights of your life.
3. Get fit. This is especially relevant to sports and the more physically demanding societies: The Department of Health recommends that we get 2.5 hours of (aerobic) exercise a week, which is equivalent to 30 minutes 5 days a week, or two hockey training sessions. The fresh air will help to clear you of last night’s Vodka Red Bulls, and the exercise itself releases endorphins in your brain, which result in a positive feeling – essentially boosting your mood. This will benefit you greatly throughout your degree, especially in times of stress: come exam period, blowing off some steam will be a great release and hopefully stop you from becoming a pale, information-overloaded hermit.
4. Push yourself. Learn a new skill. Fail a few times. Learn a new sport. Persevere. Competition and challenges are fundamental to human growth, encouraging hardiness and sportsmanship along with building solid self-esteem. The activities on offer at university provide you with so many opportunities to develop your range of skills and open your mind to new perspectives. A club can teach you endurance and perseverance; and if you struggle with motivation, find yourself a buddy on the team that can encourage you on your down days, and vice versa. But it’s not just limited to sports, if your creative writing is a bit rusty and you’re not sure you have what it takes to be part of the pack, now is the time to do it anyway, because you’ll never know unless you try.