Hey, I’m Ruby a second Geography student at the University of Exeter on the Penryn Campus. As rewarding and interesting as the course is, I must admit that societies do make the university experience! Joining Surf Society (FalSurf), Hip-Hop Society, Geography Society (GEMS) and Feminist Society (FalFem) completely transformed my whole experience and was the main way I met all of my closest friends at uni, so I couldn’t recommend giving it a go enough. 

The University offers such a wide range of societies and volunteering opportunities, which may seem daunting at first but is actually such an exciting opportunity. When else in your life will you have such easy access to incredible facilities, new skills/hobbies and a bunch of likeminded students? So, let’s talk through how to choose a society that best suits you and what it’s like to be part of a society. 

FalSurf Society

Why join a society? 

I found being part of a society so beneficial, especially in my first year, for my confidence, social skills and wellbeing. Being surrounded by like-minded people and committing to a regular activity can really settle the nerves of joining university and avoid you potentially feeling “like a small fish in a big pond”. Chatting to committee members (you can find their names/emails on the SU webpage under their associated society) is a great gateway into this socialising since they are always super keen to get new members involved and integrated into the group. So don’t hesitate to take that first step and reach out to the committee members – you never know where it might lead you! 

Engaging in societies that relate to your course can elevate your interest for the subject beyond the classroom. For instance, GEMS hosts lots of fascinating environmental talks from lead researchers as well as many very useful networking events that can inspire potential career pathways. Plus, getting to know people in your department is super handy to keep on track with your course. 

Thinking more professionally… imagine you are an employer, who would you rather hire: someone part of societies and teams who display teamworking and genuine passion or someone who has just completed their degree with no additional attributes? Especially if you become part of the committee in your 2nd or 3rd year, being involved can really help your CV stand out to employers.  

Society socials

Which society should you join? 

From sailing to squash, crochet to climbing, there’s over 120 societies to join here at Penryn campus. Don’t get carried away with finding the “right” or “perfect” society for you, just look for something that makes you feel fulfilled and brings a bit of positivity to your week since that’s what they’re all about! 

Already keen on or experienced in a particular sport or a hobby? Carry this on! The University has so many opportunities and facilities that can grow this passion. You can compete or collaborate with other nearby universities; Falmouth Uni and Streatham campus are the most obvious links but there’s lots of alternatives too. 

Always dreamed of trying out a new interest? Uni is the perfect place! Here’s some you may have never considered… 

  • Ultimate Frisbee 
  • Volleyball 
  • Bee Soc 
  • Aerial Fitness 
  • Hip Hop Dance Society 
  • The 93% Club Penryn 
  • Penryn Produce (student led veg-box scheme) 
  • Anime & Manga 
  • Boxing 
  • Cheerleading 
  • Radio 
  • Kayaking 
  • Knitting and Crochet 
  • Surfing (very bias, but how could you not try this if you’re coming to uni in Cornwall?) 

Here’s the link to the SU website to have a deeper dive 🙂  

Cheerleading practice

Advice for your first session and making friends 

  1. Check if there’s a ‘taster session’ in Freshers’ Week (known as Welcome Week) as they give an insight into what it’s like to be a member. 
  1. Be open-minded to trying new things. Everyone’s in the same boat and wants to meet people. Make sure to introduce yourself (name, accommodation, where you’re from, things your excited about etc). Stay authentic to yourself because you’ll naturally attract friends who appreciate you for who you are. 
  1. Feel free to ask questions if you’re unsure about something, as I mentioned, the committee is always there to chat. 
  1. Be consistent. Luckily since Penryn is a smaller campus, it is really easy to get to places, so there’s no excuses not to go. Don’t just attend sessions, actively take part and suggest new ideas for how the society can grow even further.  
  1. Socialising outside of sessions is also important to foster independent connections. Meeting at the beach, cafes or on campus are great options to get to know each other.  

In conclusion, I cannot recommend enough getting involved in a society. It’s not just about the activity or potential employability, joining a society is about building lasting friendships, expanding your horizons and enriching your entire uni experience. So, don’t be afraid to dive in and make the most of this exciting opportunity! 

Best of luck in your new adventures,