Let’s be honest, sometimes the only thing that gets you through the agonising horror of A – Levels is the fact that people (with this beautiful thing called hindsight) keep telling you, “University will be the best few years of your life”. So you finally make it. Now what do you do?! How do you ensure that you grasp these opportunities that will create lifelong memories! Most of it you’ll work out as you go along, but for you INCREDIBLY lucky ones who get accepted into the Loughborough family, I’ve made a list of the 15 things that you’d regret not doing or at least trying whilst at Loughborough!
(N. B. Side note from Isobel Sigley, “Are you including Papa Si’s in the list?” (Our saviour of takeaways on nights out), “…because you won’t regret going at 3am but you really will when you wake up the next day!”)
1. Trying some form of sport whilst you’re here.
Starting off with an obvious one. “Yes I go to Loughborough, no I’m not an Olympic athlete.” With the incredible facilities and world class coaching you’d be a fool not to take advantage of sport at Loughborough. There are so many different sports on offer for you to try at a variety of different levels from AU (Athletic Union – represent the uni) to IMS (Hall Sports Team), if you have an interest in a particular sport you may as well give it a go!
This year my best friend has got into the AU Trampolining Squad alongside other friends who have joined AU Badminton and AU Rugby.
Try out for some level of sport, even just for the bragging rights to say you played for Loughborough!
2. Buying sportswear or labelled stash.
You’d expect this to go hand in hand with playing sport; not necessarily… It’s a well-known fact that most of the students here walk around in some form of Kukri branded sports kit. Other than sports kit we also have the typical university hoody and t shirts on sale. Pride of place though is the Official Loughborough Sporting AU Hoody which tells anyone that you play sport for the best sporting university in the country. Anyone can buy kit though, as I intend to do at some point. Well I do run to lectures most days when I’ve overslept so I suppose that counts…
3. Getting stuck in during Freshers.
There’s a tendency for the cliché to be banded around: ‘Freshers’ week will be the best week of your life. This is really what you make of it, but there’s certainly enough events provided here to guarantee this if you seize the opportunities. From fancy dress club nights at the union to on campus sports and activities, these two weeks at Loughborough are the most bizarre step away from reality. Gone are the days of A Levels and working all day; here you can roll out of bed whenever you like and straight into a world of no responsibility, no parents and pretty much doing whatever you like! Enjoy every second, when the work sets in the lack of reality bubble will soon burst.
4. Taking part in a Colour Dash.
At this point, I’ve managed to miss each date that this event falls on. I’m determined to complete it at some point this year, if not just for the photo opportunity that I’ve done some form of exercise! The Colour Dash is a (roughly) 5k run around campus where you are pelted with powder paint all in the name of charity. This event takes place twice a year and raising money through the union’s RAG department to divide between local, national and international charities.
5. Going to a Mayhem Event.
One of the best aspects of Loughborough is that the town is pretty much built around the university. We have four nightclubs in town plus may more pubs which for a small town is impressive! We’re also only a short train ride away from Nottingham or Leicester if we fancy bigger city nights out! Mayhem is effectively a ‘club crawl’ with a £5 wristband giving you access into everywhere. It’s very loud, very messy and sometimes themed – most recently the Halloween Mayhem terrorised the locals with skeletons, Harley Quinn’s and ‘dead’ cheerleaders wandering through the streets!
6. (Finding and) going to a DBE.
DBE is a monthly event in an undisclosed location which tickets sell out for faster than you can pronounce Loughborough. It’s a night full of drum and bass, house music and grime and techno music. Even if this doesn’t particularly seem like your scene, this is definitely something to tick off a Loughborough bucket list and to do just to say that you have!
7. Take part in some volunteering or a RAG Raid.
This is one if you’re just simply a decent human citizen. The union offers you the chance to get involved in various volunteering opportunities both on campus and further afield. The RAG organisation offers fundraising activities such as the Colour Dash (see above), a fireworks extravaganza and many more projects including a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro or to Machu Picchu, a cycle from London to Paris and dog sledding through the Arctic Circle. Taking part in a RAG Raid is completely free and you and a group are dropped off in a city bucket collecting for charity for a few hours. Good deed and experience? Why not?
8. Giving everything you’ve got at the Sing Off.
Arguably the biggest night of Freshers at Loughborough. Your hall spends the first few days after arrival memorising a profanity filled trash talking chant that you end up screaming at the top of your lungs squashed into Room 1 (our union nightclub) in an attempt to secure eternal glory for your hall (not quite but this is where your competitive side comes out to the fullest!). The atmosphere of thousands of freshers covered in face/body point jumping around chanting is electric. (And as a quick disclaimer, Falk Egg Hall have a tradition of somehow getting disqualified by different means EVERY YEAR!)
9. Embracing and getting embarrassing photos at the themed events.
Loughborough Student’s Union has been voted the “Best Union” for three years in a row (not boasting, but we’re all a little bit proud) and we have a variety of different events every day of the week to accommodate for different interests. Themed nights tend to be on a Wednesday night at ‘Hey Ewe’ which is our weekly sports night full of cheesy music and all the teams out celebrating or commiserating their sporting results that day. These nights have a different theme every night such as Paint Party, Foam Party, Gunge Tank, Man vs Food and ‘Mass-eoke’. There are lots of other themes on throughout the week in the union and in town to get involved in.
10. Staying in halls for your first year.
Student accommodation is the gap between living at home and living independently in your first home. Sharing a toilet and kitchen with a group of strangers may seem disgusting (it can be) but it’s definitely character building! If anything, I’m now unconsciously much tidier thanks to the bombsite that was my kitchen in first year. At Loughborough, staying in halls is also for the atmosphere. Inter hall rivalry is strong not only at the Sing off and throughout Freshers’ but throughout the whole year with sports competitions, hall points for volunteering and raising money plus Hall Balls are the highlight to celebrate at the end of the year. Believe me, in second and third year you’ll realise how much you took for granted and how easily accessible things were in halls.
11. Getting into the spirit for Halloween.
After experiencing two Halloween’s in Loughborough it’s safe to say nothing makes students put more effort in than the chance to apply fake blood, wear coloured contact lenses and attempt Pinterest skeleton makeup. From Halloween FND and prizes for best costume to house parties plus the Halloween Mayhem, it’s always an impressive time of year and the perfect way to round off the first month back at Loughborough.
12. Attending at least one of the balls throughout the year.
Depending on how much you’re involved in at Loughborough, you may find the end of both terms to be incredibly busy! If you’re staying in halls then you’ll receive an invite to a Winter and Summer Ball, on top of the possibility of the same from your academic department. That’s four outfits already (*stresses about this year*)!! On top of this, there may be two if you’re in a society, plus if you’re part of a sporting club you have the annual AU Ball in addition to the seasonal balls. The balls are usually very well organised and sophisticated and the perfect way to relax and celebrate after a term of hard work. Even if I may have to hit my overdraft looking for different dresses!
13. Joining a society.
This is one I couldn’t recommend strongly enough! Loughborough is home to a vast range of societies ranging from outdoor sports to religious views and performance societies. The yearly Societies Bazaar during Freshers’ Week is always a highlight when over 100 different societies cram into one room and pitch themselves to terrified freshers! Joining a society is the best way to meet people with a common interest. This automatically helps you to make more friends with other interests which may offer you an insight into different activities. Cliché alert, but alongside your course mates and possibly flatmates, these people will be your family throughout your university experience.
14. Completing a Loughborough ‘tradition’.
From the start of Freshers’ Week you start to pick up urban myths about traditions at Loughborough. These include The Naked 400m or the Semi Naked 800m around the Athletics track and jumping in the fountain in the centre of campus in just your underwear after a night out. Though I may not complete all of these, the other week I managed to get a photo with the ‘Sock Man’ statue in the centre of the market square. It’s become tradition to hang things off his outstretched leg. See below for my (slightly tipsy) effort.
15. Getting Instagram-worthy photos at some iconic campus spots.
Every university has that specific spot that is synonymous graduation photos. At Loughborough this is the fountain in the centre of campus in front of the gorgeous Hazelrigg and Rutland Buildings which are the focus of any of our promotional photos. This is the place you’ll definitely want to take photos at some stage of your degree. Also in my department, (English, Drama and Publishing), it’s become practice to take a photo by the Loughborough sign outside the building holding your completed dissertation. Just to show that you made it!