Expectations and settling in

Aims and expectations (1st August 2011)

Why I chose to go to the Netherlands, and what I expected. Read the entire post.

The effect of social networking (22nd August 2011)

There’s a very active Facebook group which I completely overlooked before I came. I had a very hectic summer so I hadn’t thought much about UCU except the arriving part. This seems like a massive disadvantage as most people’s first questions were “are you on the Facebook group?” to which my first response was a confused expression.

Facebook, it appears, has had its impact on many a social experience, which now includes your first day at University. No longer can you turn up having a completely fresh start and know that everyone else will be the same as you – not knowing anyone, a little nervous, a little excited.

Times have changed and the social dynamics had already been set. If you’re on the Facebook group you are top dog and already have your friends sorted and hence do not need those of us who forget about such things. My neighbour is already a member and there are talks of Facebook group midnight meet-ups – what a way to feel left out of the circle! However, even if I had thought about looking for a group I wouldn’t have found it – I also can’t find it now!

Exeter’s “Welcome Week” v Utrecht’s “Intro Week”

22nd August: “Welcome Week” for Exeter and “Intro Week” at UCU are a little different. During this week at UCU you join in activities with your “family” which includes having “dads” and ‘moms’ (which annoys me no end, I highly dislike the American spelling of mum). When I read about this I thought it sounded a bit silly and American (though apparently some universites in the UK also employ the system), but I can now see the beneficial side and I am willing to go along with it and reserve my judgements till the end of the week.

28th August: This is the end on intro week and the family system and so I will given my opinion on it as promised. I actually think it is a really good system. Once you get past the awkwardness of calling someone younger than you “mum” and “dad”, you really get into it. It’s nice to have a group of people to do activities with, unlike at Exeter where you make your own plan based on what all the societies (committees) have to offer.

The activities though are more diverse at Exeter, as you would expect – I especially enjoyed the day surfing and a BBQ that surf club provided. The ones they offer here are fun though and I enjoyed all of them…

Since the activities here are set up by the UCSA (University College Student Association), the equivalent of the Students Guild for Exeter and Student Union for other universities, you never get to see what the societies are about. This is a downside for them as they will only get members if people know they want to join. That is fine if you are a hockey player or want to work on the Student newspaper, but less well know societies like Exeter’s Ultimate Frisbee and Scouts and Guides would suffer if they didn’t have the option to throw taster sessions.

However if you don’t get on with your halls/unit in Exeter, as I didn’t, you don’t have anyone to go to these tasters with, and so your options are actually much slimmer. The family system stops this as it gives you a second basis for creating friends if you’re unit does not turn out to be  that great. In summary I think the family system would be better than the current system at Exeter and other UK universities, as long as the societies could still having taster sessions so you can check them out too.

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