As my first year at Imperial comes to an end the opportunity to write this article has given me time to reflect and review this introductory chapter of my journey through university. Undoubtedly, a willingness to explore and immerse myself within a multitude of societies and clubs has played an integral role in embracing what ICSM has to offer.
As a fresher, I found that freshers fair was a natural entry point to gaining a greater understanding and appreciation of the diverse range of clubs and societies at Imperial. The student representatives gave me a good idea of the kind of people within the club, which factored into my decision-making process. However, instinctively deciding your suitability to a club solely based on this is something I would advise against. Keeping an element of open mindedness is especially important in first year because you might surprise yourself as to who you end up connecting with at university.
For me, it was important to push myself to be within different social environments and this allowed me to make some really close friends with people I may not have made friends with otherwise. Looking back, freshers fair was an indispensable event to attend in my first year, as it allowed me to really assert my interest in a range of societies, including Indian society, Hindu society, Medics Football, Boxing Club and Imperial Entrepreneurs.
You might be wondering how it was possible to logistically balance my course demands with being an involved member of all these societies. Whilst logistics may play a part in whether you join one or more societies, I would advise freshers to sign up to all clubs that they are interested in, initially. This then allows you to make a decision at a later date on how feasible it is to continue with them. You might find, as I did, that some societies are less demanding than others. In general, I found it manageable to play for a sports club whilst also being able to attend seminars as part of Imperial Entrepreneurs.
Being a member of a sports team was imperative to my experience. Representing ICSM against other universities as part of a football team was fantastic. The strong sense of camaraderie and solidarity built playing twice weekly with my friends was second to none. I would encourage students to consider joining sports clubs regardless of their sporting ability because clubs actually go beyond just playing sport. Sports clubs provide academic tutoring, pastoral care and high calibre nightlife events across the year. I have found that a Wednesday sports night is the best night of the week.
Being a member of Hindu and Indian society allowed me to practice and celebrate my beliefs and culture. Imperial Entrepreneur seminars brought unique learning opportunities in preparation for the future and employment. Regular lectures by successful business start-up owners as well as leading figures in internationally established businesses, allowed me to broaden my academic learning beyond the scope of my course.
As a commuting student, there was a precursive fear before starting in October that I would be unable to get a holistic university experience without living in accommodation. An ardour to participate in different societies allowed me to meet a range of students as well as become a part of a social network including my year group and older students. Had I not been engaged in societies and clubs, my first year would have ended up being rather bleak. I thoroughly encourage incoming freshers to join societies and clubs as it will be an invaluable part of their university experience.