Societies at Royal Holloway
Just like in America, staff and students alike here say that the best way to experience uni is to get involved in extracurricular activities. So I dutifully went to the Welcome Fayre, where I was slightly overwhelmed by a sea of enthusiastic devotees of pretty much anything you can think of, offering me leaflets and soliciting my email address. Some really dedicated ones were even in costumes, or “fancy dress” as they call it here (side note: this really confused me one time when I was going to a formal occasion and they said no fancy dress). Despite declining the majority of the leaflets I was offered, I came away with far too many. When I asked older students how to choose what to join, they all said the same thing: try everything and see what sticks!
Well, I took their advice to heart, and so far I have tried 12 societies (Americans say “clubs”) and local organizations.
I’ll start with Photography because I have a picture for you. Each week in Photography, they set up an interesting scene or something and then teach us how to best capture it. Their very first one? Fire swinging!
Yes, indeed, that’s blazing fire hurtling through the air on the end of a string! And a lot of it not on a string: as you can see, there were sparks going everywhere!
We set our cameras on long exposures to get the trail effect. The blue dots are from a Circus Society girl who walked by and joined us; she happened to have some flashing glowing lights with her.
Another really cool society I tried is POLO. Yeah, that’s in CAPITAL LETTERS because it’s SO COOL. Polo!!! Yeah, like on horses! It was so, so fun! One of my friends told me that he loves polo because it’s all the best parts of other sports combined: you get to hit a ball, you get a big stick, you get to go really fast, you get to run into other players a bit, you get a HORSE.
Unfortunately, there are no pictures of me playing polo because, well, I was playing polo. And let me clarify that by “playing polo,” I mean I was very excited that I was able to ride the horse slowly and occasionally actually hit the ball a few feet with my stick.
I do, however, have this awe-inspiring picture of me hitting a pretend ball on a pretend horse.
You really have to focus on that imaginary ball, or it gets away from you!
In case for some reason you were wanting to see actual polo players on actual horses playing actual polo, here’s a photo from the exhibition game they did for us at the farm.
So when I was at the Welcome Fayre (I don’t know why it’s “fayre.” That’s not normal. I feel like I have to say that or else you might think it’s British or something. During the first week I was here, I was sitting at a table with some British people, and a horse and carriage drove by, and like three of my friends immediately looked at me and said, “That’s not normal! That doesn’t usually happen! We don’t drive around in carriages!” …I’m sorry, I was in the middle of a sentence there and totally broke off; I’m going to close the parentheses, and we’re just going to redo the whole paragraph, ok?)
So when I was at the Welcome Fayre, I got a leaflet from the Trampolining Society. And in real life, I was like, “Oh, thanks!” but in my head, I was like, “I seriously don’t need to jump on a trampoline that much.” But then one of my friends went and came back and said it was the bounciest trampoline she’d ever been on and that it feels like flying.
Well of course, I couldn’t pass that up. So off I went to Trampolining, and yes, it was definitely the biggest and bounciest trampoline I’ve ever been on. It’s so bouncy that the first lesson is how to stop bouncing. It’s so bouncy that some talented people, of which I am not one, can do flips on it. It’s so bouncy that you really do feel a little bit like you’re flying. It’s so bouncy that… only one person can go on it at once.
Yeah, I had a turn, and then there were like 20 more people until I could have another turn.
And I got a little bored.
And next door, they were punching people or something.
So then I watched and then I got roped in and then I was doing ninjutsu. With one of the instructors because I made them have an odd number of people, whoops.
Ninjutsu is different from a lot of other martial arts because there’s no competition or sparring, even in practice. It’s only for self defense, so the goal of every single move is killing or severely maiming the other person. And there are no rules of politeness; we kept being told to dig our nails into each other. I felt like I was in assassin class.
I’m a theatre major, so I’ve had some experience with stage combat. And ninjutsu is just like stage combat except you actually beat the other person up. Which was a WEIRD change for me. I kept being like, “Are you sure you want me to kick you? Really? Are you really sure?” And of course, this is to the multi-black-belt instructor, who is probably made completely of steel.
Also, I like to make my stage fighting pretty, so I have a tendency to point my toe or sort of curtsey when I lean over. Which I learned, in real life, would have made me dead in about 2 seconds. The instructor kept being like, “Right, but if you do that, I can just punch you.” “Right, but if you do that, I can just poke out your eyes and put my finger through your throat.”
He was really helpful and actually really sweet, and I definitely had fun, but a career in ninjutsu may not be in my future.
Well, the other societies I tried were nice, but I don’t have anything in particular to say about them. Sorry, that’s a total cop out. To be honest, I’m sure I could blah blah blah forever because I’m a total chatterbox, but it’s 1 am, and I want to go to bed. So I’ll just tell you: the other societies I tried were Textiles, History, Savoy Opera, Absolute Harmony (acapella), and Global Cafe (international students). I also tried a Bible study (which I absolutely love) and two churches, The Journey and Ascot Life (which are also both lovely).
Oh, but no matter how tired I am, I can’t in good conscience go to bed without sharing my obligatory cute animal photo. He was at the polo place.