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Written by Alex Dewing, BA Comparative Literature

In my first year I thought I was too late to join societies. I didn’t make time for them, instead, I made excuses: “I live too far away so there’s no point going”, “I won’t know anyone there and will just feel awkward”, “I’ll have a better time watching Netflix alone in my room”. And although I did have a nice time watching TV show after TV show, I was lonely.

Fast forward right to the end of Term 1 of my second year when I decide to head over to a Dungeons and Dragons event held by UCL’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society. This was their last event of the term and although I didn’t exactly socialise with many people I made a promise to myself that come Term 2 I would join the society because of this and, importantly, I’d actually go to events. I followed through with it and have since made some of my closest friends, met my partner, and actually joined the committee. So I think that makes me living proof that it’s not too late to join societies, right? 

You don’t have to be a Fresher to be a new face

I decided to give societies a second chance after I realised that I could use societies to find people who’d not only be willing to listen to me talk about D&D or movies, but would be excited to chat with me.

One of my fears was that, since it was second term and I was in my second year and therefore not a Fresher, people would already have made friends and there wouldn’t be a place for me to fit. Boy, could I have been more wrong. 

People had made friends but everyone recognises the anxiety of being the new face and they’ll make an effort to welcome you. From there, it doesn’t take long until you find people who you click with, for me it took a few runs of some boardgames and a couple trips to the pub. No matter when you show up, people are going to make space for you and are as excited for you to be there as you are. 

Societies are just filters for friends

UCL is a big university: as of 2018/19 we had nearly 42,000 students. That’s a lot. But when you look at the amount of people who have joined societies the number drops to 11,372. That’s just over 25% of all students. Now, of course, many people find other ways to meet others and make friends, some people flock to their course mates and others house mates, but there’s something special about societies and clubs. There’s such a huge range on offer that it’s essentially like a filter for friends. I will admit that in my first year I had very few, if any, friends and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my biggest regret of that year was not joining any clubs or societies. Now I am a proud member of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Society and UCL’s Film & TV Society. Together we watch a lot of films, play in Murder Mysteries, and go to the pub. Often. These groups have allowed me to meet people based on a joint love for all things nerdy and all things film, but trust me, the friendships are more than just mutual interest. Societies just make it easier. Believe me when I say, it’s not too late so just join in.