Deciding to go to university can be a big choice. Whilst university offers many exciting changes, change can be scary. This is perfectly natural and there are numerous people who share your worries.
So this month I asked some of my friends to help me by sharing what their favourite bits of University are and how they faced everyone’s worry: making friends and feeling accepted. This month will focus on the student experience; worries about not making friends; and the sport that is so intrinsically linked with Loughborough.
Consistently ranked in the top three for the Best Student Experience and Best Students’ Union certainly plays a role in our experience at Loughborough; from the friendly, encouraging, supportive, community to the multiple exciting events, local shops and restaurants, and chances to get involved.
“I’d say the best thing about Loughborough is the student experience, lots of friendly people and loads of clubs/sports to take part in!” (Tom)
“The actual uni itself is a fantastic place with lots of events going on or charity work/raising money.” (Kate)
With over 100 societies, 55 Athletic Union clubs, Action events, Rag adventures, and Media opportunities there is literally something for everyone. I definitely recommend giving things ago, because you’ll never know unless you try.
With such a welcoming and supportive community everyone really encourages each other, I have never felt judged trying something (my first time trying Salsa dancing I definitely had two left feet, but I went on to become Salsa vice-chair)
“I also love the union. Everyone there is so passionate about creating the best student experience and I love seeing how enthusiastic everyone is.” (Jess)
The Exec team is a student elected body who run the student union with a ‘by students for students’ approach. They listen to the student body and implement the improvements students’ desire. Anyone can make a new society, and there’s the opportunity to be on the committee for a club or hall chair, or even member of Exec.
Similarly, each academic department has programme representatives and regular department meetings to address areas for improvement put forward by students. More on academic support later…
Changes/Worries about not making friends
So hopefully we’ve excited you about what a fantastic, welcoming environment Loughborough is to live in and made you aware of the increasing availability to have your voice heard. It is a home away from home. But you might be worried about meeting new people and making friends. Loughborough has over 17,000 students, and every year first year students are in the same boat. Nobody knows anyone else and no matter what you hear, everyone is nervous about making friends!
“I was worried that I wouldn’t make friends or wouldn’t want to be friends with the people I lived with. It is a daunting experience coming to university. Sometimes I felt that I had to do things, like join drinking socials, but soon realised that I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to and there was something for everyone to do whether that was to go out and party or stay in and watch films.” (Bella)
Despite the myths, going to university isn’t all about getting drunk. Likewise, the pressure to do so is also a myth. I have never downed an entire drink, I just say no and am respected rather than rejected for it. There are many events including Flix; sober nights; wellbeing events; comedy shows; coffee house sessions; and so much more, meaning you needn’t sign up to anything you don’t want to do.
Plus with places in town and nearby Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham and good train connections to London, you don’t have to be part of sport or societies to make friends, you can just meet and do what you like.
“Best things for me: being close to Bradgate park/outwoods/canal for running and walking adventures, obviously the sports facilities; Peter’s Pizza, Goodliffes, and Caravelli are nice restaurants, and everything is close, so easy to get to.” (Daniel)
Also, at university how you spend your time is your decision. Beyond scheduled lectures study is self-directed. Time-management, networking and independence are just some of the skills you will develop alongside all the amazing people you will meet. University is about Higher Education academically, but also personal education and development.
“Because Loughborough is a campus uni, there is always something going on and that’s what I love.” (Jessica)
The independence gained moving away from home is a great step toward the working world. For me, university has enabled me to develop independence safe with the knowledge that there is always a support network to fall back should I need it. Now I feel confident, ready and equipped with the skills to successfully face the working world.
“Best thing is the responsibility of living away from home on a budget. Making a new start improves confidence and gives you independence.”
There are so many instances to make friends, even just around campus talking to people. Remember, almost everyone has similar worries about making friends and likewise wants to meet people, chat, and be open to building new connections. During freshers weeks, there are loads of initiatives in place to help people form connections. Your hall becomes your family – without the nagging!
“One of the best things was being in halls in first year and the friends I made there.” (Faryal)
Sports university of the year and 36 times BUCS winners. Loughborough University-linked athletes won 34 medals in Rio and it’s not uncommon to see and train in the same vicinity of Olympians because of Loughborough’s renowned facilities. Sport is a big reason many people choose Loughborough.
“The facilities, coaching and team spirit at Loughborough has enabled me to go further than I thought possible, to reach the highest levels of my abilities”. (Jon)
“I think because Loughborough is such a big place for sport you meet so many people who encourage you to do things. I think that is generally one of the best things as well. I have met so many people just by getting involved in classes and AU sport. I don’t think I have ever connected to a group of people as much as I have at uni.” (Jessica)
Don’t be put off by myths that you need to be sporty to be accepted at Loughborough. Many people don’t do any sport, some do occasional classes, and if you don’t want to be in an AU team there are less-serious inter-hall and academic department competitions too. I personally discovered a love for sport at Loughborough even though it wasn’t the reason I came. Representing your university in sport, or any area, is a fantastic source of pride.
Tune in next month where my blog will focus on the academic departments; with more on meeting a diverse range of people; as well as job, career, graduate and international opportunities.