Try everything. A very versatile phrase, that I’ve heard on various occasions in my life. My dad’s attitude when we go to an all inclusive buffet (and I proceed to get cross at him for wasting food). The name of Shakira’s song in Zootopia that I heard a thousand times too many when we were forced to choreograph a dance to it in Year 9 PE. The phrase even applies to how many buttons I randomly press in irritation when there’s an issue with my laptop. (Note: this never fixes anything). However, the phrase ‘try everything’ came up the most during last summer, as it was the advice given to me by practically everyone I knew before starting university- and I’m sure that has been the case for a lot of people. And while I appreciate the frustration of being told something too many times, I would still like to pass on this same advice to the incoming freshers- with one key emphasis: focus on the ‘try’ and not on the ‘do/commit’ to everything.
It’s no new news that university is the best chance in life to try something different: freed from the bars of the 9-4 school timetable and for now, from those of the 9-5 job shift, these 3 or 4 years are the best opportunity to get involved with hobbies you wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to. Whether this be in the form of societies, sports clubs, nightlife, volunteering, or anything else that takes your fancy, there’s nothing stopping you!
But it’s not just because ‘you have the time’ that is the sole reason why you should experiment with extracurriculars at university. While I apologise for this sounding like a GCSE Languages speaking answer, the best part truly is that you get the chance to meet lots of different people with whom you can share new and entertaining experiences. For example, one of my favourite societies that I’ve joined has been Gaana Dance. Before coming to university, I knew that I wanted to try a dance club and so I attended a variety of taster sessions, from Salsa to Contemporary to Lyrical. However, Gaana was the one I stuck with. I love the upbeat style of dance, the choreography that’s accessible to all, and the friendly and relaxed vibes in general. I’ve also enjoyed taking part in some of the French Society events this year. While I haven’t taken part in the clubbing or bar crawls which aren’t really my thing, the casual meet ups and pizza and movie nights have been really enjoyable, and I’m especially looking forward to the Languages Ball in a couple of weeks!
Another reason why it’s so important to try everything is because you’re not going to like all of it (and while, as I’ve explained to my dad, this should not apply in buffet restaurants) with regards to hobbies it’s perfectly fine to try as many things as you want and then completely abandon them. Personally, I’ve done this for quite a few things: An ice skating taster where I found myself quite literally stuck between a rock (if ice is a type of rock?) and a hard place, alternating between the fear of taking my hands off the rail, and the fear of keeping them on and getting hypothermia because the rail was So. Unbelievably. Cold. Or getting roped into playing Minecraft with my flatmates, which I found to be an incredibly strange, disconcerting, and confusing game (but then with my very limited prior experience of video games, that was hardly surprising). I’m still glad I tried out these activities though, because there was no harm done (apart from a video of me frozen like Bambi on ice that had been cheekily taken by my friend), and I got a good laugh out of them.
However, the most important thing, which I alluded to at the start of this blog, is to find the balance between wanting to take part in something, and deciding what you can actually commit to. At the end of the day, university isn’t just a funfair and the work you do, even in first year, does matter. So while I wholeheartedly recommend trying a variety of activities, during and beyond freshers week, don’t feel pressured into committing yourself to absolutely everything. And more importantly, even for the societies and clubs you do join, Warwick is fantastic at providing opportunities to get involved as much as you want! I love attending weekly Gaana Dance classes, but last term I didn’t sign up to take part in a big competition as I knew that I would have struggled to go to rehearsals for a few hours every night. After attending the taster for Wind Orchestra and finding the level of difficulty quite high, I knew that I’d have to spend a lot of time practising independently to reach the standard needed to perform at their concerts. However, I didn’t let this stop me from getting involved with music: I instead started going to one of the various small groups within the orchestra (Flute Choir) where the atmosphere is more relaxed, although there are still lots of opportunities to perform. One of my friends loves musical theatre, but doesn’t always have the time to commit to masses of rehearsals for some of the theatre productions: nevertheless, she still goes to the weekly informal group ‘Ensemble’ and the socials run by MTW (Music Theatre Warwick).
Overall, the best advice I can give is get involved- with whatever you want and however much you want to. It’s great to be really committed to one specific society, sports club, or event, but you don’t need to let this close you off to other activities. Even if you can’t commit to coming regularly, or even if you come once and never go back, everyone’s very friendly and no one’s going to mind you coming and having a go. Try everything!
Thanks for reading: Feel free to comment below or send me a message!