Freshers’ Flashback

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I know, I know…. But Activities Week and Freshers’ Week were pretty crazy so that is why it is only now that I am writing/posting this blog I promised you all a long, long time ago! Those weeks certainly were the best way to get to grips with what the year ahead was going to be like. All summer had been pretty quiet and easy to deal with, but the Sunday that Activities Week started highlighted just how quiet summer had been and it was so exciting to see students return and get to meet some of our new incoming students. It reminded me of coming to Aber in my first year and I really was just so excited for the new students to start their time in Aber.

We made the decision to start the week on the Sunday so it would make it easier for the new students to get dropped off by their parents without them having to take leave, thinking that it would mean we would get bigger numbers turning up, our turnout was 50, an alright number but certainly would have been much more successful with a larger group. The Sunday consisted of meeting the new students and handing out their Activities Week T-Shirts (there were 10 different colours for the purpose of a mini SuperTeams on the last day). Once most of them had arrived, collected their keys and T-shirts we all congregated back at the SU for some food and a film. As many a new student would, a handful of them wanted to find the best place in town for a drink after they ate so after everyone had been fed we left them to their own devices. Looking back on the first night from now there are many things we could have done differently to get our new students as engaged as possible, it is always going to be challenging when people have had to travel all day and unpack their life into somewhere new, so maybe for the future we would alter what we offer on the first night…

Day 1 of the activities and we had loads of different options to choose from in both the morning and the afternoon, our best turnouts were on Ultimate Frisbee and Underwater Hockey, really impressive stuff for these two quite niche clubs! The evening event was a bit better attended; from returning students anyway, the SU Cwtch was crowded so our new students had lots of different groups of people to talk to. I thought it was really successful but for me, I like big crowds and meeting new people but for some people it was very overwhelming and quite scary, so would need to think of a better way to make it more suitable and fun for lots of different people without making them feel crowded.

The morning after day 1 and there was a lull in numbers who attended the morning session (not surprisingly) but they soon rekindled after lunch time. The rest of the week seemed to show the same outcomes, heavier attended sessions in the afternoon. We provided food in the evenings too, so the new students were able to sample a few of the local restaurants, Llew Du and Pier Brasserie, a good way to introduce them to their local surroundings.

On the final day, which was the Thursday, we wanted to give the new students a sneak preview of what AberSU has to offer our students throughout the year, so we thought what a better way to do this than to have a mini-SuperTeams event as the normal event is always a sell-out. This was all brought to a close with a final meal at the SU. By this time in the week most of the new students had made friends with the older club and society members so tagged along with them for their evening socials.

So that was my first week in the role where I was actually in charge of students experience done. It was tiring but gave me so much enthusiasm for the rest of the year to come. Which is just as well as from the Friday onwards was just the beginning! We had now entered Welcome Weekend which is when all of the students living in university accommodation picked up their keys and therefore meaning that every single student who had to pick up keys had to be on campus at some point over the weekend so we as the SU needed to make sure that we got our mission across so students knew that we were there for them! Like the previous Sunday, this was really refreshing to see all the new students about to embark on their student journey.

Freshers’ Week itself was manic for everyone in the Union, and everyone in the University in general, my main focus for the week was bringing in the new committee members for sports and societies to organise them for our Freshers’ Fairs. This year we as a union collectively decided that we would try and have as many of our student groups on the same day as possible, which meant a mixture of sports clubs, societies and local businesses. The concept was great, which was that we hoped that we would be able to fit everyone in on both days. This wasn’t the case. It ended up being randomly allocated people based on when they had submitted their application. Obviously I was in charge of organising the clubs and societies, who had to be allocated around the stalls already dedicated to the businesses.

Initially on the day of the fairs it was a mess setting up and getting everyone in the right place was rather chaotic! Despite that and the hundreds of people who came to look round the fairs I personally think that it went rather well. Definitely was a highlight of mine being able to go round to all the stalls to meet the committee members and find out what they all had in store for the coming year!

Towards the end of the week I was completely worn out and actually had to take a day off work because really was just so exhausted! Luckily enough the latter half of the week wasn’t as challenging as the previous one had been and we as an officer team were able to round it off with a visit from the Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, where we spoke about our priorities for the year and we were able to hear from her personally what she wanted to do for the Welsh Education System!

I have to apologise for how late I have got this blog out to you all, fingers crossed I will be a more avid blogger for 2017!

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