By Joe, Civil Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham
As a keen fresher in September 2017, I was eager to join all the societies I could possibly fit into my busy schedule. By doing so, I hoped to make the most of all that university had to offer whilst simultaneously finding friends with common interests.
I joined an auditioned choir, Camerata, and the university ‘sax choir’, the former being more musically stimulating and the latter being more sociable. I attended the civil engineering society’s annual hi-vis bar crawl and realised that UoB’s engineers don’t conform to the ‘introverted engineer’ stereotype. Having familiar faces on campus and enjoying quick catch-ups whilst walking between lectures was very comforting and made the campus feel smaller and less daunting in those first few months at the university.
In my second year, I was elected secretary of the wine society which was both challenging and rewarding. We hosted fortnightly wine tastings and accumulated hundreds of members. We were rewarded with opportunities to attend national wine fairs and conventions, including the London Wine Fair which annually hosts over 400 wine exhibitors. I also joined the university gymnastics club as a beginner which was primarily sociable but also allowed me to compete on a national level, even though I was new to the sport! Widely regarded as the week’s fourth training session, sports night was regularly attended by the club.
Whilst on my year abroad in Melbourne, Australia, I was part of the mountaineering club with whom I spent a weekend planting trees for conservation efforts directed at a critically endangered bird species, the regent honeyeater.
Covid unfortunately limited opportunities through most of 2020 and the first half of 2021, but in my final year I am a member of the Birmingham University Singers and I am taking weekly Spanish classes as part of ‘languages for all’. Furthermore, I am a member of the university’s triathlon club with whom I have explored the sites of the West Midlands via three modes: swim, bike, run. The club’s annual training camp in Mallorca during the Easter holidays was a massive success. At the same time as enjoying the Spanish roads and scenery I found I was able to cycle further than I had ever done previously.
Ultimately, I would say that participating in sports and societies complements university work perfectly and leads to improvements both in mental health and academic performance. It teaches one to study more efficiently in order to make the most of all the other uni-related opportunities!