James Produced by

Second year

BA (Hons) Media Production

First game of the season, pre-game posing

Being a ‘mature’ student, I already lived locally and didn’t need to move into halls, so I stayed in the flat I already lived in. That played a small role in not being able to meet and socialise with my peers prior to my first day at uni. I’m quite an open, talk-to-anyone kind of person normally, but going to university was daunting.

For most, going to Uni is your first taste of independence; the first time away from your family, the first time living in your own place, the first time being away from your friends. A lot of firsts. Many new students will meet people in their accommodation, maybe some of their neighbours. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great way to meet new people, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will meet like-minded people.

Four students taking a selfie

James and friends

A great way, no, the best way to really branch out and meet like-minded people, network, and try something new is by joining a society. ‘What’s a society?’ I hear you asking. Well, SUBU (Student Union Bournemouth University) offers over 90 different societies. These can be anything from surfing, or climbing, to tennis, basketball, or even quidditch. It’s essentially a group that meets regularly to socialise, participate in games, and even party.

During fresher’s week I attended the freshers fair not really knowing what to expect. I walked around and spoke to so many people, I spoke to the rugby team, the golf society and almost signed up to the improv society. As I walked around the gym, I locked eyes with someone who immediately walked up to me and said, “You ever played American football, Son?” I hadn’t. In fact, I had never even watched it, nor did I know anything about it. I was intrigued though, so I followed this person (who turned out to be coach Steve Rains), to the sign-up table and committed myself to the open day training. The lads at the table were really friendly and seemed like a good laugh, I felt like I was with the right people. This was the first time over the last few days that I felt I might fit in somewhere.

As I walked away from that sign-up table, my stomach filled with dread. I had never even played on a sports team before, let alone a contact sport. Three days later I was at the field with what seemed like hundreds of other people, but in hindsight there was probably around fifty of us. We ran, we tackled, tried different areas of the team to find out where would be a good fit. You know what, I loved it! I met people from similar courses to me, met people from courses I would never have mixed with otherwise. I signed up and committed properly.

A rugby pitch with players

A rugby pitch

So, I was now an athlete, by chance, but I wouldn’t go back even if I could. The opportunities have been endless. With the team we have travelled to play other Uni’s, we have parties, bar socials, I am now part of the social media team going into second year, I even played guitar in front of the whole team – I have never played for more than a handful of people before.

What I am saying is, I have my friends from my course, we work together and make projects together. It’s nice. But by joining a society, I really managed to expand my network and grasp opportunities that I would never have been able to if I hadn’t joined the team.

Each society is different, try something new, put yourself out there. Why not try out the role play society, or if at home you were a secret ‘Swifty’ and too embarrassed to tell your friends – join the Taylor Swift society, embrace it. There are also societies catering to religious and faith groups that will help you make connections in your local community. Joining a society might be the making of you, one of the best things you decide to do while at uni. With Bournemouth’s coastal setting along with BU’s open and embracing culture, joining a society will be the icing on the cake. I cannot stress enough what it will do for your confidence, your social life, and just how much it will enhance your uni experience.

People taking part in a charity bike ride outside the SUBU shop

Charity bike ride outside the SUBU shop


You can check out some of the societies here, but make sure you get out there an speak to different ones, see what’s truly available. Maybe sign up for something that never even crossed your mind before.

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