Every university in London has a Student Union, which is an organisation of students that arranges social events, sports activities and sometimes helps to provide health services, legal support and places to live. Student Unions are run by students with the aim of creating a fun and supportive social life at the university.
The Student Union encourages students to join sports clubs and societies which are run at the university. This provides a great balance to your academic studies and helps to feel part of the university’s student community.
As soon as you enrol at your university, you will automatically be enrolled into the Student Union. This means that you can use the services and facilities on offer from day one.
Your first contact with your Student Union will be during your first week on campus. During your first week, you will need to register for the course and make yourself familiar with your new environment before classes start the following week. The Student Union will arrange a number of different social events and activities designed to help you settle in and make friends. This might include tours around the local area, boat rides, team quizzes and themed evening events. If you are staying in university halls of accommodation, there may also be events going on there.
Get involved with as many events as possible, it is a great way to make new friends from the UK and from all around the world.
During Fresher’s Week, there will be a fair in which the sports clubs and societies of your university will all present themselves to provide you with information about them and to sign-up new members.
You will often find a wide variety of sports clubs, ranging from basketball, football and rugby to bowling, hockey and swimming. Most UK universities do not schedule any teaching for Wednesday afternoons. This allows the more competitive teams to travel around the UK and compete against other universities’ teams. Most clubs have different levels that you can join, from ‘just-for-fun’ to highly competitive levels.
You will also find a number of societies which may focus on a hobby, a culture or an activity, such as the music, Brazilian or ‘Model United Nations’ societies. Members of these societies meet up regularly to discuss and debate relevant topics. Many also hold regular events which you can get involved in.
Find the right balance
As student societies and sports clubs are a great place to make new friends and to have fun, some students initially sign up for many different ones. It is certainly possible to be involved with more than one society, but you have to ensure you find the right balance between your social life and your academic studies. You may also want to work while you are studying, so you need to stay flexible with your spare time.
You can find out more about a university’s student unions on the university website.
Arriving in a big foreign city like London when you don’t know anybody can be a bit of a frightening prospect. But university life is about being social and there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people from the moment you get here.