Did you know that in an average week in UCD there are approximately seven meetups with free tea, coffee and chats? That once a week you can get discounted screenings at the cinema and two thought-provoking debates with free pizza? At least three dance classes, music classes, drawing classes and choir meetups take place collectively along with soup runs and river clean-ups that take place about once a month? There are organised nights out, there are games nights at least twice a week and there are about two plays a week being performed?
Did you know that all of this and more is because of different UCD societies putting work in alongside their degrees to give students a reason to be on campus for something other than their courses?
While many students may be aware of some of these activities taking place, many people don’t actually know about the many opportunities that students have to engage with their faculty on a different level. This is through faculty societies such as the Engineering societies, the Science societies, the Legal societies and Art’s societies but also societies that exist purely to bring individuals with the same interest together, allowing them to offer experiences and build memories together.
Many people initially think of societies as a way to make your CV look a bit more impressive and while it’s undeniable that some of the soft skills you learn can benefit you further in life, that doesn’t tend to be the reason that people stay in societies or become members of committee. The reason tends to be that the experiences and friends you make, tend to stay with you for life. You’re less likely to remember the Law lecture at 9am and more likely to remember the debate that took place that evening. You may not remember the percentage you got in your 2nd year midterm but you certainly will remember the standing ovation you got performing in the February musical.
The thing that deters most from taking the steps into the Freshers’ tent during week 2 of the first term is thinking that there isn’t a society for you. However, with over 90 active societies on campus that most definitely isn’t the case. You also can join a society at any point throughout the year even if you missed the societies tent during Freshers’ week and we have a Refreshers day for any incoming second semester Erasmus students.
The other thing to say is that societies are not like a module or a course. They are there to make your time in college more enjoyable and so if you sign up to a society, you are free to attend the events that suit you and occasionally miss the odd coffee morning when you have an assignment due. Or better yet, take that free cup of coffee and then use the caffeine to help you finish the final few paragraphs of that assignment!
Societies give you the opportunity to leave your building and visit other areas in the largest campus in Ireland, give you the chance to meet people you’d never have met other than because of societies and in general broaden your skills making it so that at the end of college you feel like you came out of UCD with more than just a degree.
The main thing we need to stress is that college really is not all about the lectures, labs and tutorials; you are here to experience what student life is all about and to have a series of years that you will never forget. There is a society for everyone on this campus and this can range from something you have already been doing for years whether it be debating, dancing or drama. Not only can you build upon those previous hobbies, but you can try something new that you’ve always wanted to try or just throw yourself in and find your next favourite thing. There is even a food society so if all else fails you have something to fall back on that you know you’ll enjoy. There is nothing stopping you taking it one step further and joining a committee and becoming involved in managing events and finding yourself in a leadership position that will put you in a better position across the board in life.
By James Alkayed, Societies Council Chair, and Joanna O’Malley, Societies Council Communications & Social Media Executive.