School is over, summer is in full swing, and anticipation to begin your new life at St Andrews is likely also beginning to set in. So too, however, is the nervousness surrounding making friends once you are here. Luckily, there are many opportunities to meet new people in this town and an excellent way to do so is through our plethora of student societies and subcommittees.
Our union-affiliated societies are all student-run and members pay a fee (£3+) to join and get involved. This fee allows members free (or cheaper) entry to society events, the opportunity to run for committee positions, and in many cases, discounts at local businesses. Subcommittees are different though because they are larger than societies and are funded by the Student Association rather than by membership. As a result, every student at St Andrews is automatically a member so there is no fee to join or attend most events. On occasion, however, subcommittees do hold events you pay to go to such as Saints LGBT+ Glitterball.
As there is such a selection at St Andrews, I will separate societies into broad categories. For more information visit the union Societies A-Z. Additionally, each society will be present at the Freshers Fayre (in whichever form it takes this year) to answer any questions you may have!
STAR (Editors Pick!)
Obviously, the most important society in St Andrews is the subcommittee known as STAR: St Andrews Radio. With STAR, you can host your own radio show each week. We also have The Record – the News and Opinions section of STAR which you’re reading right now! Then there’s StarTV – our vlog section – and Hearing Aid – a biannual print magazine (with online articles too) which focuses more on music. If you want to get involved with any or all, catch up with us in Freshers Week, or email [email protected]!
The first group of societies are those related to your chosen degree subject. Subject associated societies are an excellent opportunity for you to meet others interested in your degree or a topic that you enjoy. They frequently hold events such as lectures and debates to help expand your knowledge. They also have society socials, excursions, and often an annual ball! For example, Philosophy Society hosts regular debates and Geography Society holds GeoBall every year.
Secondly, there are a wide variety of political societies available to you in St Andrews no matter your ideology, from Students for Independence (STAUSFI) to the Conservative Association (STAUCA) to Democrats Overseas. Political societies hold events such as street stalls, guest speakers, socials, and fundraisers. These societies also sometimes hold collaborative events; for example, STAUSFI and STAUCA held a debate on Scottish independence in March.
If advocacy and fundraising are close to your heart, then St Andrews has copious amounts of charitable societies on offer. These are a fantastic means of making friends with similar causes to you, like human rights or conservation. They hold regular events such as fundraisers, protests, campaigns, and socials.
One charitable organisation that has a big presence in St Andrews is the Charities Campaign. I spoke to Vice Convener Tyler Kedens who told me:
“We are a union subcommittee which raises money and awareness for our three student-selected charities. The campaign comprises of three subcommittees: Race2 – a charity hitchhike across Europe, RAG Week – an entire week of charitable events, and CATWALK – a charity fashion show. We also organise fundraising events throughout the year! The strength of the charities campaign is in its broad nature; there is such a variety of events and positions that anyone can get involved!”
Another significant group of societies are those based on culture and religion. These are centred around creating a sense of community through socials and withholding traditions from home. Cultural societies also provide opportunities for any student to learn about their lifestyle and language through events such as food festivals and language classes. Furthermore, religious societies often host debates centred around spirituality and philosophy.
There are also a variety of opportunities in music and theatre at St Andrews. The vast majority of performing arts societies are affiliated with the Mermaids subcommittee. A few examples are Just So (musical theatre), Dance Club, and Blind Mirth (improv comedy). Additionally, Music Society runs a variety of groups such as the Symphony Orchestra and Ukelear Fusion (ukulele band). These groups host regular shows, socials, and, workshops. Some even get the chance to perform at the Edinburgh Festival each year! No matter your performing arts interests, there is a society in St Andrews for you!
Lastly, there are many societies focussed on hobbies and interests. These societies are mostly centred around social events and they vary widely depending on society; from GamingSoc tournaments to RockSoc’s open mics. I spoke to RockSoc President, Britt Mcardle, who explained more:
“We have been going since 1991 and our goal is to bring people who love rock and metal music together. Our main event is a fortnightly club night held in Sandy’s, featuring a variety of themes! We also hold pub quizzes and live events such as open mics, musician socials, and we won runner-up for the Best Event Society Award for our live concert! RockSoc’s central thing is we provide a welcoming space for everyone who wants to find out more about alternative music and culture.”
To conclude, societies are one of the best ways to make friends at St Andrews and there are many of them for you to choose from. The choice may seem overwhelming, but my advice is to attend any society events you are interested in (even alone!), see which you get a feel for and undoubtedly you will find your place in St Andrews!
This is part of a series of articles designed for incoming first year students. Up next – sports! What do we play, what are our facilities like, and what the heck is korfball? More on that in the next article.