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Get More Out of University Life this Year

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Welcome to the new year – what will it bring? One thing is for certain: another semester at university. Some of you will be excited about going back, others will be wishing Christmas holidays lasted a little bit longer…

This blog post is aiming to address both of the above audiences. If you already find your university life an exciting and fulfilling experience, can it get any better? For those that see university life as a bit of a chore and just a ‘have-to-get-through’ period, I can guarantee that taking up just a few extra-curricular activities will dramatically spice up your student experience.

Bored studentHow can you improve your student experience?

It has been shown that there is a strong correlation between a sense of belonging and the feeling of happiness. So in order to be happy at university, you need to feel you belong. And to feel that, you need to get involved. Naturally, we care about a place or a project a lot more if we have contributed to it, if we have dedicated a part of ourselves to it.

University is just the place to try out everything you have always been meaning to, and in this process, discover and develop new talents. Having said that, a lot of you probably did sign up to a bunch of societies and extra-curricular activities in Freshers’ Week (or Refreshers’ Week if you are no longer in the first year of university). What you might have found is that you haven’t committed to any of these extra-curricular activities fully, and dropped a few in the process. This is precisely why now is the perfect time to either go back to those you already joined or try something new entirely.

New year planWhy is now the perfect time to make a change?

1) You have already experienced the bitterness and the sense of disappointment of not following through with your initial idea/plan.

2) Your secret desire to become a cheerleader/ actor/ chess champion has not diminished as much as you hoped it might if you ignored it for long enough.

3) It’s the start of a new year and having already had the first semester, you can be a lot more strategic and realistic about your objectives and fully achieve them.

4) It’s simply another chance to test out your limits and learn new things, which is just as good as the chance you had at the beginning of the academic year.

And…

5) If you are already busy, engaged and dedicated, it’s an opportunity to review your commitments and either expand your repertoire or drop some extra-curricular activities that perhaps are no longer fulfilling, and replace them with more interesting hobbies.

Happy studentsWhat are the benefits of extra-curricular activities?

As you can see, the reasons are many and convincing. Now it’s time to cover the consequential benefits of getting involved in extra-curricular activities as a student:

1) The obvious benefits: making new friends, having fun, learning new things.

2) The less obvious: independent of what extra-curricular activities you take up, you will immediately become more attractive to future employers. A well-rounded student experience demonstrates initiative, curiosity, independence, personality and eventually a diverse skill-set and versatility. Of course it is even better if you commit to an interest and stick it out for a few years or possibly a lifetime, but attempting in itself is commendable.

3) The non-obvious/overlooked: you enjoy university life a lot more as a result and have fewer regrets once you’re a graduate.

I personally only got really and truly involved in university life in my second year, and it not only completely transformed my student experience but changed my attitude for the rest of my life. Having worked as a student representative, I have seen similar transformations happen to a number of other students, which has strengthened my belief in choosing the proactive lifestyle, whilst at university at least.

Having read this article, you will hopefully feel that there is every reason to get more involved in all aspects of university life, and very few risks in doing so. Go ahead and make this a year to remember, you’re only a student once! #YOSO

This blog post was orgininally published in January 2015. It was updated in January 2016.

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Written by Dasha Karzunina
Originally Russian, Dasha studied at the University of Nottingham. During her degree in maths and philosophy, she fell in love with university life and was soon involved in student politics. She took on various roles of responsibility within the student theatre, student media groups, sports teams and student democratic structures. Her passion for higher education and student interests led to her representing students full-time for a year and then gaining a role within QS as International Research Liaison.Dasha is a keen linguist, a runner and a theatre enthusiast. She believes in the power of words and excellent presentation and takes every opportunity to travel. Her ambition is to empower the world by ensuring more people have access to high quality education.

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