Starting university in a different country can be exciting and daunting at the same time. You need time to settle down, make friends and get to know the place. Having friends with whom you can connect makes life a lot easier in a foreign country. They don’t necessarily have to be from your country or speak your mother tongue. You just need like-minded people to connect to, and the best way to meet people outside your course or accommodation is Clubs and Society. Let me tell you a story about how I became part of an amazing Society and how it gave me some friends whom I can cherish for the rest of my life.
Having started my course in the middle of the pandemic, meeting new people was a luxury. I arrived in UK sometime towards the end of February, a time when restrictions where still in place. The only people I met in the first couple of weeks were my 2 flat-mates and some of the buddies from my hometown. I have always loved meeting new people and connecting with them. But our classes were completely online at that time and that didn’t really leave me with much option to meet new people. I started looking for ways to connect with people. I then joined the “PostGraduate Society”. We had weekly socials on zoom at that time, which gave me a chance to talk to people. We used to simply talk about our week, movies, food, hometown pretty much anything and everything and play online games as well. I loved the Society and every member of it.
Sometime towards the end of May we had our AGM. AGM is the Annual General Meeting where the next committee is elected for every Club/ Society. Every committee has signatory and non-signatory roles. Signatory roles are- the President, Vice-President, and Treasurer. Non- signatory roles include- Social media officer, event manager, engagement officer and so on. I have always loved planning and organising events and taking up responsibilities. But deep down I also had this fear that I might find it difficult to manage my time and won’t be able to commit myself to it. I have missed out numerous opportunities due this fear as well. During the AGM the signatory roles were elected. (If you thought that I ran for a signatory role, then NOPE, I did not, guess old habits die hard😉 😁) I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage a signatory role along with my hectic schedule. But I loved the society and the people so much that I wanted to be at least a small part of it. Then came the non-signatory roles. They were looking for someone to handle the social media and communications officer role. I still have no idea what came over me at that moment, I just put my name forward. I was like “Ya I would love to take up that role”, and just like that I got the role. To be honest, I was a bit worried even after I got my role. Turns out it was the best decision I made after coming here. I enjoy every moment of it. As part of the committee, I get to plan and organize events which is something that I have always loved. As social media and communications officer, I am responsible for maintaining the Society’s social media pages. This means that I have to create posts and content for social media. I have always been a creative person and now I get to show off my creativity on our social media pages. You should know that I had no prior experience with content creation. I have never used any of the designing tools or ever created a poster. I was so nervous when I put up my first post. It took me hours to design it, but I was equally excited about it as well. I picked it up quickly, I might not be a professional, but I have come a long way in the short span of time. I realised that all my fears of not having enough time were unfounded.
Now, that the restrictions have eased, we conduct our weekly socials in person, either at the Wates House (Student pub at uni) or at some other pubs in Guildford. I got to meet so many amazing people because of the society, some of them are PhD students and some do masters. I enjoy the conversation with PhD students the most. They are incredible and are so passionate about their research. Our President does his PhD in Sociology and is from Brazil. I have met people from different parts of the world through the society. Every week we come together and talk about our week, how bad or amazing it has been. We are never out of topic. Apart from socials we also organise lots of other activities for post graduate students like hiking, movie night, online game nights, London trip and lots more.
Do read about our Society here: https://www.surrey.ac.uk/news/spotlight-postgraduate-society
I would advice everyone to join a Society as soon as they come here. PG Society is not the only one, at Surrey there is something for everyone.
Check out our societies here: https://www.ussu.co.uk/getinvolved/clubs
Join any society that is of interest to you. Most people simply join a society in the beginning and then just completely ignore it. Getting involved doesn’t mean simply signing up, it means showing up and taking part in events conducted by the Society. The good thing about joining Societies is that you get to meet like-minded people and who knows you might even get some good friends for life. Even if you do not run for a committee position, joining a Society can give you an amazing experience. Now, if you are some one who loves taking up responsible jobs or organising events or anything of that sort. I would advise you to run for a position. I have had lots of opportunities even before coming to Surrey to take up similar positions, but I never took it. I have always been worried about time-constraints and how it would affect my work. But the truth is, you have got more than enough time, its only a matter of will power. Now that I took up the position, turns out its not so hard to handle a society along with studies. Even a signatory role is not that hard to manage.
Being part of a committee is not only fun, but also adds value to your resume. Soft skills such as communication, team work, organising and time-management always contributes to an outstanding resume. The experience I gained as Social media officer for the society certainly gave me an advantage for my part-time marketing role at the university. (Read my previous blog to know more about my part time job at Student enterprise and SETsquared). The hours that you work for the society can also be counted towards the employability award as well. Check out more about employability award here: https://study.surrey.ac.uk/extracurricular-study/employability-award