I can’t believe that my degree is over, and how quickly the time went! Now that I’ve finished I’ve been looking back at my time at uni and although it was incredibly busy and sometimes stressful, I’m pleased to say I don’t think I would have done anything differently! I got involved in everything that I wanted to during my degree and my university experience was about far more than just my degree. Here are some of my favourite university experiences, you could take inspiration from these if you are looking for some ideas of what to get up to next year!
I knew before I came to university that I wanted to make the most of the huge range of societies that the university had to offer. I would advise new students not to rush into buying membership for everything, but at the same time, don’t be afraid to try something new! Societies are great as they allow you to meet people with a shared interest, but from a range of different cultures, backgrounds and fields than the people you might meet on your course. Not only this but classes/lessons through societies are often FAR cheaper than what you would be paying elsewhere! I knew I wanted to find something active and I ended up joining Bellydance Society. I fell in love with the dance and the culture that surrounds it, as well as making so many amazing friends and at the end of that year I applied to be on committee. I got the position I applied for and also continued in my position this year. As Publicity and Events Officer I have gained brilliant experience of marketing and event management including planning and running sell-out shows. Being on committee was one of the most stressful but rewarding experiences of my degree and if you find a society that you love I would really recommend applying for a committee position.
At the beginning of my final year I realised that I had done lots of things for myself during my time at university, but hadn’t really done anything to give back to the community that have made me feel so welcome. So I went to the volunteering fair and looked into a range of opportunities, there is everything from helping at animal sanctuaries to working with people such as children with disabilities or elderly people in care homes. I chose to volunteer for ‘Clubbing Crew’ which runs nights out at the Student’s Union once a month (on a Friday) for adults with learning disabilities. The experience has required very little commitment – just one evening a month, finishing at 1am which meant it didn’t interfere with my study time but has been one of the most fun and rewarding experiences. The feeling of knowing you have helped someone have a good time is amazing – when you see a shy and quiet individual turn into a total diva, dancing away with a giant grin on their face, is fantastic. I would 100% recommend a volunteering project as it will benefit you and the community.
Throughout my degree I have been involved in outreach opportunities within my department. For me, this has consisted of volunteering at our departmental museum during open evenings (which led to me gaining a part time job as a museum tour guide) and assisting during the Animal and Plant Sciences ‘Annual Christmas Lecture’ which involves 1000 local primary school children descending on the Octagon for a lecture by a member of staff, followed by activities designed and ran by undergrad students. Although I don’t particularly want to go into teaching, the experiences have massively increased my confidence working with children and I have found it really rewarding to help inspire the next generation of scientists.
End of year ball
The end of year ball for your department is a great way to celebrate the year with your coursemates, and a good excuse to buy that dress or suit you’ve had your eye on! The food at my ball was pretty good and although I have heard mixed things from other departments at least there is usually free alcohol to wash it all down! I would especially recommend attending your ball to final year students. I saved some money so that I would be able to buy photographs so I have memories of my time at university.
Even if sports isn’t your thing, I would thoroughly recommend attending a varsity event. It’s a great way to get into the unviersity spirit, particularly if you have friends competing. In particular, the final event, the ice hockey has a great atmosphere and is really good fun! However make sure you plan to get there early and either leave early or wait for the rush to finish after the event as the trams are usually packed!
Walks in the peaks
With the Peak District on our doorstep, Sheffield is a fantastic university if you enjoy walking. During my first and second year I went on walks in the Peaks with Natural History Society (now named Nature and Wildlife Society) who run walks once a month out into the Peaks. During my final year, having been so busy I have often been unable to go walking on the dates that the society had arranged, this led me to contact the Walking Club who usually run two walks every week. Both societies are full of very friendly people and walks usually just cost a few £s in bus or train fare. Walking with a society is great if you don’t want to worry about working out transport and planning a route. If you are feeling more adventurous, obviously you can always get on a bus and go by yourself or with friends!
I hope your time at Sheffield is as great as mine was!