I was a pretty ridiculous fresher. I remember arriving at the end of September with absolutely no idea what I was in for. I moved into McIntosh Hall, danced really badly in Venue 1, attempted to do laundry on my own and get up in time for 9am tutorials. I also remember getting to about this time in my first year and being pretty miserable. Where were all the long-lasting and exciting university friendships that I was supposed to be making? Why didn’t I have an academic dad yet when it felt like everyone else did? Why was I so frustrated with my international relations course?
In short, if you are not having an absolutely brilliant time right now, you certainly are not alone. If you are – fantastic! Well done on settling in so quickly. For some of us it took a little bit longer to get into the flow of life in the Bubble. As I hope all of you already know, there are many resources out there for people who are feeling homesick or unsettled: Nightline (01334 46 2266 or email nightline st-andrews.ac.uk), Student Services (01334 462020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org), or talking to your hall warden.
But for me, settling into the Bubble was really about finding the right people. Finding my niche came in the form of going along to my first Charities Campaign meeting. I was involved with fundraising at school and figured I would enjoy doing it again at university. I was overwhelmed by the number of projects they had going and how many events they were putting on. I signed up to help with a cinema night and was hooked.
Soon I was volunteering more often, eventually coordinating volunteers, joining the committee and, in my final year, leading it all as the Charities Campaign convenor. Through Charities I travelled to Barcelona and Prague with Race2, ran a week of Union events as the head of RAG Week and helped raise over £100,000 for charity. More than that, I made lifelong friends who truly shaped my time at St Andrews.
All of this is to say that if you are having doubts or you are not quite settled, try getting involved in something. It doesn’t have to be Charities – it can be Model United Nations, Ultimate Frisbee, Fine Chocolate Society, Doctor Who, rugby… the options are endless. We have over 150 societies and 57 sports clubs in St Andrews. We live in a very small town and I truly believe that students shape the experience here. As director of student development and activities, I see every day how many diverse and active student groups we have. My best advice is to jump in and join anything and everything that interests you. Whether you want to sing, act, paint, fundraise, volunteer, play sport or try something entirely new – this is the time to do it, whether you are in first or fourth year.
For societies, you can check them out on our new societies portal at societies.yourunion.net. You can join societies at any point in the year; you don’t have to wait for second semester. We also have ten subcommittees of which everyone is automatically a member. You can check them out at yourunion net/activities/subcommittees/.
Audition for a play, go along to a weekly debate or just pop along to a new society event that you might be interested in. Let me know how it goes! I would love to hear from you at email@example.com.