Get Involved…

… by Nick / from Johannesburg, South Africa / BSc Computer Science and Mathematics / 3rd Year (UG)

We are all told that our time at university will be full of opportunities; the things you can study, the people you could meet and the amount of time you will have on your hands. The real challenge is taking advantage of these opportunities to make sure that your university experience is as good as it can be.

I have tried many different things over my three years here at the University of Edinburgh and have decided what worked best for me; the social aspect of university. Whether you are a social person or not is irrelevant. Finding like minded people who enjoy the same activities as you, guarantees a well-rounded and fun experience in my opinion.

Whether it’s be getting to know the people from your halls of residence or your course better, there is a huge value in building relationships by going out for a simple meal or a drink with friends. Your time at university will not be wasted while trying to get to know as many of the interesting people you will come across as possible. Especially as an international student, the people you meet and the lasting connections that you make are some of the most important things you will get out of your time here.

Together with the importance of meeting people is the value in grasping all the experiences that you can along the way. My time in Edinburgh has been filled with exciting adventures ranging from being taken to Los Angeles, California for an engineering competition, to escaping to the Scottish mountains for some incredible skiing on the cheap. Both incredible experiences were only accessible to me because of where I was, and because I made a conscious effort to get involved in the societies that the university had to offer.

The first of the two experiences was a two week trip to Los Angeles in California. I went there as a member of the HypEd Society. HypEd is a society focused on building a prototype version of a Hyperloop pod, a new mode of transportation. The purpose of the trip was to participate in Elon Musk’s global competition where different teams could showcase the prototypes they had built. My trip was fully funded by the Society, the University’s Go Abroad Fund and the School of Mathematics. This trip showcased the possibilities that are available to all students at the University of Edinburgh if you are willing to make an effort and try the things it has to offer.

The second experience that I wanted to share was one from our own beautiful Scotland. During my third year as a sunny side up South African I thought I should get involved in the Ski Society. This turned out to be an awesome decision. During my third year when most people find themselves spending all their time with the friends they have made over their first two years, I managed to get in a routine of joining the ski team on the dry slopes in Edinburgh every Wednesday, and going out for beers and free dinner right after. I met a considerable number of new friends and managed to test out some of Scotland’s best skiing up at Glenshee, a resort two-hour drive from my door (in Scotland??? Right!).

My subsequent advice for any new students would be to take your time at all the society trade fairs. Find as many of the things that interest you, and just go for it, get involved!