As a first year, I took the opportunity to join the kayaking club. I chose to do kayaking because it was a sport I enjoyed growing up but didn’t have the opportunity to do it on a regular basis at home. For kayaking I had two options, to participate within the university's club, or find an external club. After doing a bit of research I decided to stay within the university because it was closer to my accommodation. Plus, I knew there would be other students there, so I could make more connections within the uni.
The one main thing that stuck out in this club was the fact that you had an opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications. Don’t worry, you're not forced to do these qualifications, it's just something that the club offers at a reduced rate.
I have only been attending for a few weeks, but I already love it! It’s a very relaxed and fun environment, and everyone there is 100% supportive of each other. All the group bonded quickly as we all had this common interest in kayaking, even though for some of the group this was the first time they had ever been in a boat!
Surprisingly, in the kayaking club, we don’t just go kayaking. We have plenty of ‘dry socials’ as well which suits everyone. Generally, once a week we meet up and go down to the pub for a meal and some drinks, then straight to the club for the people who enjoy the nightlife. If you don’t like the idea of going out for drinks, don’t fret because we do other activities like gorge scrambling and laser quest throughout the year! We also do day trips where you can go kayaking on the river and lakes around Leeds; sometimes even a weekend away to the Lake District.
Personally, the kayaking club has allowed to come out of my shell and become more sociable. Adjusting to university life can be hard but surrounding yourself with good people can make the transition so much easier. In the short period of time that I've been with the club, I have already learnt how to capsize as well as how to rescue myself from a capsize (which is quite useful). Since I have joined the club, I've made friends for life. It has also made me realise how my enthusiasm to try new things can be infectious, allowing the more introverted people in the group to gain confidence in themselves as well.
As a first year, I would highly suggest other first years to join a society or club (even if it isn’t kayaking) because it’s an amazing experience. Societies can help you make new friends but also allows you to try something new. For instance, I went to a taster session for Lacrosse because I had never tried it before. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but at least I tried it! And because I tried something new, I now have new memories to look back on during my time at university.
In conclusion; I would highly suggest going to as many taster sessions as you can, as you may discover a hidden talent. You may find friends for life. And finally, you’ll have fun.