I can clearly remember my experience of Freshers’ Fair in my very first week at Durham – although it’s likely that I’m confusing that with attending it again in my second and third year (they were giving out free burritos this year – you can’t blame me). The first time was a whirlwind of grabbing all the freebies I could get and scribbling my name down for any society which even vaguely appealed to me (and then regretting it with the onslaught of emails in the following days).
In my second and third year – while taking breaks from running my own stand at the fair – I was more conservative with my sign-ups, but still couldn’t help being caught up in the excitement. Durham just has so many clubs and societies on offer, and while I wish I could have tried them all out (there’s even a society for that – the ‘Try Everything Once Society’) I’m pretty pleased with the selection that I have been involved with over the years, and in this blog I’ll share some of my highlights:
Vegetarian and Vegan Society
I had only been vegan for six months before coming to university, so I was really looking forward to meeting some like-minded people to share experiences and food with! When I attended the Welcome Meal hosted by Veg Soc at the beginning of term, it was my first time meeting freshers from other colleges, and some of those people are still close friends to this day. I went on to become President in my second and third year, and I’ve continued to meet incredible people and be part of some amazing activism, from speaking in front of hundreds of students at the student climate strike, to running our own vegan market event!
Highlight: It’s so hard to choose, but one of my proudest moments has to be getting shortlisted for a National Societies Award this year and having our impact recognised on such a huge level.
Durham University Quidditch Club
Yep, it’s a real thing. I went along to the taster session because, like most, I’m a massive Harry Potter nerd, and although I was disappointed that the broomsticks were just sticks and there was no actual flying, I stuck around because the game is actually really fun, and the team consisted of some of the most hilarious people I’ve ever met. I played Quidditch for two years, alternating between playing Beater and Chaser, and we trained twice a week on the weekends, even a few times in the snow (which obviously just turned into a massive snowball fight). In my second year I became Social Secretary for the club, and I had so much fun organising our ‘Pasta and Tactics’ evenings where we’d get together for a pre-tournament carb fest, and watch Youtube footage of our opponents.
Highlight: Attending the British Quidditch Cup, where teams gathered from across the country for a two day national tournament – it was surreal to see so many people passionate about the sport and our team spirit was amazing, even when we didn’t win our games. I would definitely recommend trying out Quidditch if you get the chance!
Castle Events Committee
The great thing about the collegiate system is that there are clubs and societies on both college and university level – and my main involvement in college has been through the committee that organises our college balls. I spent two years as a Creative Coordinator, which involved creating and organising decorations for the three balls throughout each year, and I loved having the opportunity to work creatively as well as improve my leadership skills by managing a team of Junior Creatives.
Highlight: Seeing last year’s June Ball dining marquee fully decorated and complete with 60 handcrafted centrepieces.
The great thing about clubs and societies is that you can commit as much time as you have – you’ll notice that I reduced my involvement in my third year when my degree had the biggest workload, but alongside running Veg Soc, I’ve still enjoyed attending the occasional life drawing session run by Art Society, or trying out a yoga class for the first time after one of my best friends become Vice-President of the Yoga and Pilates Society.
It’s also been amazing to see how societies have continued to run despite not being able to meet in person, using video meetings and online workshops as an alternative to in-person events. For Veg Soc, we’ve started running ‘Veg Talks’, choosing a different topic to discuss every week over a group video call as well as continuing to support our online community through our social media.
What societies do you think you’d be interested in joining at university? Or is there a society that doesn’t exist that you would like to set up? I’d love to know your thoughts – until next time!
To download our new 2021 prospectus click here.