Caught up in the excitement of Welcome Week, freshers and hanging out with my new housemates I had not yet gone to a taster session of a sport or society. I had a look online to see what was still running and I saw that the Salsa Society had a taster session later in the week. I was nervous to go as I didn’t want to leave my housemates, no-one was interested in going and that nearly put me off attending. It is interesting how you grow so attached or loyal to friends you have only known for a week or two and become settled and comfortable. This of course is great but it meant that I was less inclined to push myself out of my comfort zone again to meet more new people as I had done in the first week. Nevertheless, I went to my first salsa lesson on my own and it was the best decision I made in my first few weeks at uni.
I am still thankful to my past self for being brave enough to go to that session on my own. Lots of other students also went on their own and everyone was so friendly. I made a friend straight away and many more in the weeks to follow from the society. They had lots of events running such as performances outside of the Owen building and socials eating pizza and dancing (not at the same time obviously).
I also went on a trip to Madrid in February, as well as to salsa congresses in Liverpool and events in Blackpool. I have continued dancing since at different levels of commitment, but that is the great thing about salsa: that you can dip in and out as well as dance socially at any salsa club.
Having this skill has helped me to make friends in any new city I have moved to such as Barcelona, Leeds and Amsterdam and so the dance floor has become my home away from home. At the end of my first year I got voted into the committee as the Equality and Diversity Officer. I loved chatting and getting to know the new people who joined in my second year!
I also joined the Jitsu club after a few weeks as this was the martial art I had done for years at home. They welcomed me with open arms and I taught, trained and helped out casually in my first year. Each consecutive year I took on more responsibility, running one session a week in my second year and then taking over as Lead Instructor in my final year. Running the freshers sessions has been one of my favourite parts of this year, having 50-60 people attending these event as well as running the demonstrations at the sports fairs over the years.
In my first year I also wanted to play netball, I missed the try outs but was able to go and play social netball. I didn’t miss an opportunity to get onto the team as one of the coaches saw me play and encouraged me to keep coming as they would have the scouts from the team coming in a few weeks’ time.
They also had social sport teams so you could be on a team even if it wasn’t one of the main uni teams; a group of girls I met were keen to be in a team together. I was already very busy and Collegiate Campus was a 45 minute walk from where I was living at the time (or a 15 minute bus ride where I may have got lost a few times, but we won’t talk about that…) So I decided I already had enough on my plate with Salsa and Jitsu and let’s not forget studying as well as having time to relax and see friends!
From my personal experience sports teams tend to be more of a full-time commitment as you would play or train 2-3 times or more a week on top of socials; Wednesday tends to be sport clubs social nights. But it is also a great community and you could have the chance to play Varsity! I found that the societies tend to be a bit more relaxed and casual, and that suited me as I wanted to do a lot of other things too!
There was definitely more than enough time to be involved in a society or sports club or even both and it’s a good break from studying. I met most of my closest friends through these clubs. Over the years I also tried the Pole Dance Society, Swing Dance Society, Climbing and even the Judo Club. It’s never too late to join a club, whether that be in Welcome Week, refreshers in your first year in January or February, or even in your second, third or final year! I would without a doubt recommend having a go, you never know what you might enjoy or even who you might meet!
Written by #HallamInsider Chandni Soren