President of Queen Mary Students’ Union, Miranda Black, offers her advice to the freshers of 2016.
In September 2012 I came to university with approximately 50,000 kitchen utensils, countless pieces of stationary and a copy of Robinson Crusoe tucked under my arm ready to study English at Queen Mary. But despite my many whisks and post-it notes, I really wasn’t prepared for Freshers at all.
Hi there, I’m Miranda – pretzel addict, lover of Disney, and your Students’ Union President. In March 2015 I ran for Vice President Welfare in the Students’ Union elections. I knew very little about the Union as a whole, but I had a passion for student mental health and the role seemed perfect. I loved everything about the position but there was so much more I wanted to do. That’s why I decided to run for President and one election later I am writing this to you all.
This is my fifth Freshers’ Fortnight and I couldn’t be more excited for it. It’s a bit like New Year’s Eve- you make resolutions for the year and probably end up drinking a bit too much. Much like New Years, this month makes me reflect on the past and some of the things I regret missing out on when I was a Fresher. I was so worried about my grades the experience passed me by a little.
So if I could go back in time and talk to Fresher Miranda, I would tell her this…
- Don’t be afraid to go back to Queen Mary Theatre Company’s improv club! Then maybe you’ll be quicker/ funnier when you have to write this article in a few years’ time.
- We both know you’re rubbish at sport. But the Union runs a ‘Get Active’ scheme where you can give loads of activities a go without having to commit to anything. You can even buy tickets to swim at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park and potentially become the Rebecca Addlington of Doggy Paddle.
- Go along to the ‘Welcome Fair’ each year of your degree – there are always loads of freebies and it’s a great way to see what’s going on. Just know that it can get pretty busy, so also head to qmsu.org after to see what you’ve missed. New societies, clubs and opportunities are being added all the time.
- Always buy Ben and Jerry’s when you see it on offer. Ice-cream makes everything feel better. And on the topic of food, you don’t need a Dixie’s every time you leave Drapers. But those nuggets…
- There are so many ways the Union can help to make you more employable. Your Course Rep (and future flatmate) will run for CUB Editor. She’ll get it and a graduate position to boot because of her experience running a university publication.
- Following on from that, you should really get to know Course Rep! QM wants students to be partners in their learning. It’s no secret we pay a lot for our degrees, so let people know about the changes you want to see! If you can’t get hold of your Course Rep, you can also contact the Vice President Education.
- Get involved in Raise and Give (RAG). Fundraisers make such a difference, especially for causes that don’t get enough attention. Also, try out some of the Volunteering opportunities. In 4 years you’ll volunteer as a marshal at the London marathon and it’ll be the best day.
- Go to as many events as you can. It’s a great time to meet people who are in the same boat, and get to know what’s what before the semester begins. It doesn’t even matter that you don’t live on campus- there are loads of daytime events too.
- Run for a position on Student Council or submit your ideas! You can be part of creating change and get involved as much or as little as you like. Elected officers are there to support you with the changes you want on campus, locally, and even nationally.
- Don’t beat yourself up over every grade. You will learn from your mistakes, and there is so much more to your University experience.
That may be a lot to process but above all have fun because the three years will go by so quickly. And remember, the Union is here to ensure that your time at this university is a happy one. If you’re in need of help, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with myself or my team. There are so many ways to get in touch. You can visit the Union website www.qmsu.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, search ‘QMSU’ or ‘Miranda Black QMSU on Facebook, tweet @QMSU or @PresidentQMSU or follow us on snapchat (qm-su).
Lots of luck, and happy new (academic) year!