In a feeble attempt at rebellion, I refused to take part in any sort of extra-curricular activity at school, but on a whim signed up to write for The Courier at Freshers’ Fair. And, once I’d been initiated into the Union bubble, I was joining things left, right and centre, so much so that my degree is now just something I do in my spare time. But even if you don’t want to spend an unhealthy amount of time in the Union building, there are so many ways to get that little bit more out of your brief time at uni. Whether, like me, you’re desperately trying to make the most of your final few weeks, or whether you’re planning on doing in second year all the things you meant to do in first year, now is a great time to write a bucket list. Put what you like on it, but maybe prioritise uni-specific things – you can see the Angel of the North anytime, but once you graduate Sepak Takraw clubs are few and far between.
One of my many regrets from my time at uni is that I never joined a sports club. OK, so I could never have made the football first team – I’d have struggled to get into the thirty-first team – but there are many, many opportunities to get involved with university sport, some serious, some less so. As someone completely devoid of athletic ability, I’m maybe not qualified to comment, but I’d guess that being part of a team makes keeping fit a lot easier, and certainly a lot more fun, than jogging round a park on your own in the rain.
“Talking of the NUS, this is perhaps the ultimate item on a political bucket list – an entire institution that nobody seems to quite know what it’s for, but that some people take very, very seriously indeed.”
Whether it’s to change the world of just for the lols, a brief foray into the dark world of student politics is a must for the bucket list. Student politics ranges from things that have an immediate impact on your degree, like more ReCap, to the rewording of obscure articles in a constitution you never knew existed.
If you’re part of that large group of students who don’t know what SSC or PTO stand for, or part of that even larger group who don’t care, maybe start with something low-commitment, like signing a petition for one of the many student campaigns knocking about. Alternatively, just throw yourself into a Student Council meeting and revel in the intensity, whilst wondering how you ever made it so far through uni without knowing exactly how we elect our NUS delegates. Talking of the NUS, this is perhaps the ultimate item on a political bucket list – an entire institution that nobody seems to quite know what it’s for, but that some people take very, very seriously indeed.
Societies can potentially have a much bigger impact on your time at uni than any of your lectures, or that time you slid down the stairs on a mattress. There are some truly bizarre societies out there, and also some more serious ones, but if you make the effort and turn up to a few events (although joining a society and then having no further engagement with it is also something of a rite of passage), you could be opening yourself up to the best friends you’ll ever make, or maybe a career in tightrope walking. The nights out are epic, and the people will all be like-minded so if you have a love of baking, or perhaps a perchance for paintballing, I’m sure you’ll find the society for you. On a serious note, if you’re a first year who doesn’t really get on with their flat, or aren’t mad keen on your coursemates, then a society can really help to branch out and find some people who get you. Even for a jaded and experienced third year, your potential bromance or perhaps even romance could be out there on the tennis court/stage/venue of your choosing so why wait to find out? Join a society and see how your uni world can expand.
The Courier has kind of dominated my time at uni, so I’m probably a bit biased here, but I would thoroughly recommend getting involved with student media. We’re fortunate to have one of the best and biggest student newspapers in the country, and there are opportunities with radio, filming and photography too, thanks to NSR and TCTV. It’s a chance to meet great people, and with you all working together, it means that you all become close very quickly. Also, there’s plenty of chances to celebrate with the Media Awards, and everybody knows the Courier Christmas party is legendary… There’s not much more to say apart from it’s brilliant, join it.
“We’re fortunate to have one of the best and biggest student newspapers in the country, and there are opportunities with radio, filming and photography too, thanks to NSR and TCTV”
Of course, there are plenty of things to do outside of uni too. Go for a night out in Sunderland, or spend an afternoon at Tynemouth Beach, or start a flashmob on Northumberland Street. The toon is bursting with cafes and bars, art galleries and cat sanctuaries, fancy restaurants and less than classy takeaways. There’s even some history if you care for that kind of thing. There’s something for everyone. Equally, the beauty of Newcastle is how easy it can be to get to other places. You’re a stones’s throw away from places like Edinburgh and Alnwick (um a little known movie phenomenon Harry Potter was filmed there?) But please, do something more memorable than just going to lectures and writing essays and getting stuck to the floor in Sinners..