Top 10 Ways to Get Involved with Student Life
First and foremost: Welcome to Cardiff University! Moving into University can be a huge challenge for many students, especially since some of you may have come to university without knowing anyone from your prior life. This can either be appealing or daunting. I myself found it very exciting, however, it can also be extremely daunting and you may feel like you’re missing out as you view stories from some of your old school friends whom went to different universities together. I came here only knowing one person (whom I hardly have seen in my time here) and I’m here to give my Top 10 tips in how to get involved and meet new and like-minded people whom you never know may well turn out to be some of your best friends for life.
Interact (Flatmates/Housemates, other flats/houses near you)
Now we all understand that you don’t choose your flatmates in your first year as you are all coming from different areas of not only the country but the world. But that’s why interacting with students in your flat, block or even halls is always an excellent way to meet students who are not only like-minded but also we have a hugely diverse range of students here at Cardiff University (hence the number of societies that there are on offer to join). Walking to lectures and food shopping with my flatmates are some of my most cherished memories from my time in first year and it’s amazing to see that such small things like that can help you feel included and have fun at the same time.
As I mentioned earlier, we have a numerous amount of Societies in which one can join. In all honesty I can’t actually name anything that there isn’t a society for (there was even a Tesco Meal Deal Society in my first year!). If you’re struggling to fill your free time and/or are feeling left out I’d strongly recommend joining one. All of them are very welcoming to new faces and it’s another excellent way of meeting like-minded students with similar extra-curricular interests as you. It doesn’t have to be a sport, it doesn’t even have to be an art, it can literally be anything that takes your fancy and just because you’re in one, that doesn’t stop you from joining another. You can be a part of multiple societies if you wish. I myself was a part of 4 in my first year all of which just had a direct connection to what my interests have always been.
So we’ve gone through your local community in halls/student living and we’ve gone through societies. Now let’s get into the course you’ve come here to study and the area you specifically are planning on pursuing going forward. It goes without saying these will be the most like-minded people you will meet,. Interacting with your peers here is not only important as it helps build morale for group assignments and labs, but going forward, these will most likely be the people you turn to if you need help with anything (such as catching up on a lecture, revision etc) and of course going forward once you’ve graduated you may even end up working in the same place!
Now on the topic of jobs, we're in an interesting time currently with the future of Student Loans and how they will be functioning all up in the air as we speak. Some students are better at budgeting than others, some students may not need a loan whilst others may receive vastly greater loans than you. Regardless to all this, it is not compulsory to get a job but in a city such as Cardiff, student life is very prevalent and you may well see many students working in places you visit. Initially, when I started my jobs I was in need of extra money, but the friends I've made whilst working are right up there with the best I've made. Never discount colleagues as a potential listening ear as most of them are in the same boat as you since they're working probably for the same reasons you are. This provides another opportunity for future networking but mainly to meet more people/students who you may gel with.
Even if you aren't an athlete there are plenty of sports you can get involved with. You don't even have to represent the University and can just do it for fun with the Inter Mural Games (IMG League) where you represent your course or separate society. Giving yourself the chance to be a part of a team can be invigorating and can really benefit you mentally. You may not win every time, but you get to blow off some steam and at the end of the day you rest well which is one aspect of Student Life that tends to be very difficult as we all have our separate commitments and our sleep routines can all go haywire! But one part of sport that I would strongly suggest not missing is our Varsity event which usually takes place just after the Easter break versus Swansea University. It is always one of the biggest events of the year and is amazing to be a part of, however, it's not compulsory! If it's not your thing, it's not your thing, but I'd recommend going at least once just so you get a feel for our strong spirit and comradery here at Cardiff University.
Arts (Music/Drama etc)
Now to the other side! Are you a good artist, actor or musician? Or maybe you want to get experience working backstage. We have countless societies in the Arts and most can merge into each other, and, just like with you not having to be an athlete to get involved with the sports area of student life, you don't have to be a music, drama or art student to be involved with their societies either. All of these societies are super welcoming and are very grateful to see new faces. You don't have to have perfect pitch to be a part of one of our choirs and you don't have to be the next Leonardo DiCaprio to be a part of one of our drama societies. Many of these societies do "Give it a Go's" in which are all free to attend to see if it's for you or not. If it is, this provides an excellent way to meet another versatile group of students to interact with.
Events (Res Life/SU/Matches/Concerts)
In terms of events, you are spoilt for choice! The Residence Life Team have numerous events on throughout each semester, whether that be a Coffee Lounge in your halls (where you can interact with us and ask us questions or the other students in your halls), a Waffle Sunday in Cartwright or an individual event in which has been planned by one of our many RLA's. These usually involve free food and a always a very welcoming atmosphere.
But it's not just us who have events going on, our Student Union has at least two gigs going on every week and also have featured evenings on in The Taf every day of the week, perhaps come and test your mettle with your flatmates at one of The Taf Quizzes on a Thursday? The Student Union also offer events such as sales of vintage clothing, fairs and crazy golf.
On top of that you will also of course have friends who are playing in matches or in concerts and it's always nice to go and support them, you'll also get to know a like-minded audience as well as the mental aspect of getting yourself out and about which is always advantageous should you feel yourself at a loose end.
Our Student Union
Asides from the numerous events our Student Union hold, we have one of the most accomplished Student Union buildings in all of Europe, it would be a waste not to make the most of it. Facilities include numerous areas to study, restaurants, Starbucks and even a Student Lounge where you can study, play pool or table tennis all for free. As well as that there is also the new Esports area in the Lounge. As well as these facilities, the committee are always on hand to ask questions and are working within the vicinities of the Students' Union. They are responsible for promoting everything going on through emails to your Student email account.
Not a fan of a lot of the stuff I've mentioned? No problem! Luckily for you we are in a city, and not just any city - the capital of Wales! Cardiff has a range of things to offer but if you are looking for cost effective ways of just getting out the house/flat you can do something as simple as going out for a walk in Bute or Roath Park. Our sunsets can be absolutely spectacular and during the Summer these parks will seem more like your home than your bed. They provide a great opportunity to meet up with friends, have a barbeque and have a kick about, or a throw about if that's what you prefer.
As well as our parks, it's very much worth exploring the City Centre and Cardiff Bay as they offer a change in scenery and a range of various activities (which I'll go into in the next tip!) and attractions that many people come to Cardiff specifically to see. The Cardiff community in general are very friendly especially in comparison to most areas of the UK and you should feel right at home.
Activities in Town
What can you do in town? What can't you do in town more like! In the City Centre you have access to cinemas (all of which always have student deals running), the Motorpoint Arena in which holds numerous various events whether they are stand up comedy or a concert/gig, we have St Davids Shopping Centre (Dewi Sant) where they have a variety of stores as well as Cineworld, restaurants and Mini Golf too! Bowling is on offer by the Cinema Vue and around the corner from there is our iconic Principality Stadium (formerly known as the Millenium Stadium). A personal recommendation from me would be to watch a rugby match in the Principality Stadium, even if rugby isn't your thing, the atmosphere for sure is one of the best. Aside from that, the Principality Stadium host many large scale events, especially concerts. Last and not least, you can't come to Cardiff and not visit the Castle! During the winter, the town lights up and there are many stalls throughout the castle where you, your housemates, course mates or just friends in general can all have a great time as well as enjoying our own Winter Wonderland just outside City Hall.
My final tip is a simple one, if you're worried or confused or completely unsure on what you can do in town, don't hesitate to ask! The Residence Life team are here to help.
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