Making the most of your time at Essex

The first few weeks of university can be quite daunting and demanding. We all know the journey: new town, campus, people and the list goes on…but don’t think for a second that this can stop you from making the best out of each day at Essex! Remember you are not alone; everyone else is going through the same stages.

As a first-year student living off-campus I remember perfectly well the number of times I used to get lost both on campus and in town, missing everyone back home and feeling that I might have made the wrong decision moving so far away from the ones I care about. You may probably wonder how I managed to overcome these overwhelming feelings. Well, there are so many activities out there to get involved in which will not only distract you for a while, but also help you meet other students with similar interests, make new friends and unforgettable memories.

Volunteering

Nightline was the first of my many volunteering experiences. As I was passing through North Towers one evening the Nightline banner caught my attention. First of all, what does Nightline do? It is a support service run by students for Essex students and the only student support facility opened during the night, which makes it unique.

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Together with your team you will have lots of fun talking to other students, providing customer service, emotional support and information on different academic and social matters, as well as playing games and doing karaoke during quieter shifts!

But Nightline isn’t the only volunteering opportunity you can get involved with!

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VTeam is another great opportunity to have fun while getting to familiarised with both Colchester and the campus. There are over 20 regular projects to choose from, but if you feel like trying something different every week one-off projects are exactly what you are looking for.

Just Play Sessions

Being a huge fan of sweets and never good at cooking, moving close to Tesco and the regular bus service, I kept avoiding anything which required much physical activity.

Getting rapidly out of shape, I started looking for quick solutions, for example, sports which would not require much commitment or experience. Fortunately, the Student’s Union had exactly what I needed and after a while I found myself going to Squash weekly not matter how tired I felt. Not only did I get fit, I made new friends and had such a good time!

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Therefore, if you want to try a sport but you are unsure whether the chosen one is not suitable for you, Just Play sessions are the first thing to go to. Why should you choose Just Play? Besides keeping you fit, meeting new people and having lots of fun, it is free, all the equipment is provided and all abilities are welcomed. What else could you wish for?

 Sport Clubs

 Do you want to challenge yourself with something new?

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Besides Just Play sessions, Student’s Union provides over 45 Sports Clubs through Essex Blades teams. All of them are free and students can join as many clubs as they want to. Even if you are like me, generally not very passionate about sports, among those provided there will be at least one that you will enjoy.

There was for me. Who would have imagined that I would enjoy boxing?! After trying Lacrosse, Rounders, Basketball and many others without much success I finally found Boxing, a great way to relieve stress and to keep yourself fit!

 

 

Some of the best societies to join, depending on your personality

Now that Christmas holidays have come to an end you may find yourself missing friends from home, not knowing what to expect for the remainder of the year at Uni. Joining a society is a great way to meet students with similar interests, to take your mind off deadlines and assignments and to enrich your student experience.

What are the benefits of joining a society?

  • societies aim to bring students with similar interests togeher
  • they organise socials, trips and other academic events
  • provide you with support and information on academic and non-academic matters

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Worrying that there is nothing out there for you?

There are seven convenes in the Student’s Union Societies Guild, which gather together over 100 societies. The convenes are Activities, Arts, Cultural, Departmental, Musical, Political & Representation and Religious.

If you are creative and passionate about arts you might be interested in joining one of the two award-winning societies in this particular group: Theatre Arts and Photographic Society. Or why not both?!

Theatre Arts Society organises workshops every Monday, bi-weekly socials on campus, annual trips abroad and frequent trips off campus as well as playwriting and talent competitions. The Photographic Society welcomes everyone who likes photography whether they have a smartphone, a compact camera or a DSLR. They also organise practical sessions, socials and a number of travel opportunities.

If arts are not what you are looking for and other cultures seem to catch your attention, or maybe you want to learn another language from a fun and engaging environment, try one of our cultural societies. The award-winning societies are African Caribbean, BruEssex, Cypriot, Chinese Student Scholars, French Connection, Korean, Malaysian and Romanian Society, welcoming everyone interested in their culture and activities!

If you are curious about degrees outside your area of study and look for an opportunity to build on your knowledge, the Biological Sciences and the Law Society are the most popular among the departmental societies.

What about debating, raising awareness and promoting equality, diversity and intersectionality? If at least one of these words attracts your attention you might be interested in Political & Representation societies.  Within this group the Feminist, Amnesty International and Human Rights are the most active societies, welcoming everyone and organising talks on various issues, panel debates with respected academics, trips to Europe as well as opportunities to improve your CV.

These are just a few of the amazing societies we have on campus and there are loads more out there than are even more unusual (Harry Potter society anyone?!).

Campus during Winter Break

This will be my second Christmas far away from my family and friends.  Although not spending Christmas Break at home with the ones you love might seem scary at the beginning, it is not at all as daunting as it may sound. Looking back now, I can say that I really enjoyed spending last Christmas in Colchester, so I decided not to go home for Christmas this year.

If you are among the ones spending the winter holiday on campus remember that you have no reasons to feel lonely. There are many other students who choose to do the same, so why not take advantage of the opportunity to meet new people?

While spending the holiday on campus last year and seeing pictures from home I was slowly starting to regret my decision. However, while wondering around campus I met a surprisingly large number of students from my home country who were in a similar situation. We ended up having an amazing time, celebrating both Christmas and New Year’s together. I organized everything from the Christmas tree to traditional food in the same way I used to do every year with my family and for the first time being so far away from them I started to feel like home.

To make things better, Student’s Union organizes a wide variety of events throughout the Winter Break. There will be some Christmas Parties, movie screenings in Cine10 as well as board games and pool tournaments. Those who enjoy travelling and seeing new places were not forgotten either. SU organises day trips to Cardiff, Winder Wonderland, Oxford and Cambridge throughout this time.  And let’s not forget about what Colchester has to offer. Some coffee and hot chocolate always make things better!  There are many amazing coffee shops and restaurants out there which give a warm welcoming Christmas feeling.

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So explore Colchester, try new things, see new places and make the best out of this Christmas!