University societies in the UK are a great way for postgraduate students to meet like-minded people in a social environment – joining one is a way to build new friendships, gain new interests and maybe even develop new skills.
Not only are they great fun, but they can also help all students – home and international – to settle in to their new university life. However, some societies are rather more obscure than others… but this doesn’t mean you should necessarily dismiss them out of hand.
Think back to your childhood… were you a big Winnie-The-Pooh fan? In an ordinary social situation, you probably wouldn’t start a conversation with someone you just met by talking about how much you like Winnie the Pooh. But if you are at one of the meetings of the Pembroke College Winnie-The-Pooh Society, expressing your love for the Pooh Bear at the beginning of every conversation is just another ordinary thing.
We all know that in everyday social situations it takes some time to break the ice and start talking about something “interesting” because we can never be sure how the other person will react. Indeed, it could be said that a conversation that we really enjoy rarely happens because neither we nor the other person dares to break the ice. But imagine you are attending a meeting of an odd university society whose name itself is provocative enough to break the social ice (just think of the names such as Bored Beyond Belief Society or Stitch & Bitch Society – yes these societies do actually exist!); you probably won’t need to spend hours on answering questions such as “What’s the weather like today?” and you will immediately start socialising in the way you always wanted to.
Is this opportunity to overcome the social norms that frequently hamper our everyday social life one of the reasons why the university societies with seemingly obscure mottos are so popular among students?
Let’s take Sheila & Her Dog Society as an example. This society encourages its members to regress back to their childhood and do any kind of childish things such as making cardboard crocodiles, watching cartoons, or reading children’s stories in silly voices. If you think better about it, telling your employer that you are spending your free time making
cardboard crocodiles won’t increase your future job prospects. Moreover, if you propose your friends to spend a day singing children’s songs or rolling in mud it is not likely that they will be thrilled. But once there is a university society that encourages that kind of behaviour people approve of it and make it a fascinating experience. Let’s admit it; we all want to do obscure things such as wrestling in custard (and yes there is a Custard Wrestling Society!), but we will never initiate them or even admit to our friends that we want to do them when they ask us. We have an inner voice telling us: “This is not something that you should do, and do not admit to someone that you would do it.” However, university societies give us the excuse to express our repressed urges by putting the blame on somebody else, and that’s why we like them!
Obscure societies uncovered!
These are some of the more unusual university societies amongst the many more that exist: The Assassins Guild Society This society at the University of Leeds encourages its members to “assassinate” each other by using water pistols, cardboard knives, and other highly dangerous weapons – definitely more interesting than playing video games.
Click here to check out how they do it.
The Extreme Ironing Society No one really likes to iron, but if you do it in a different way it can become interesting! Ironing on top of a mountain, on the boat, in the middle of the street – no location can be challenging enough for those who enjoy this modern day extreme sport. Check this video to see what extreme ironing is about.
The Beekeeping Society Members of this society hide their beehives around the university campus and enjoy in everything that is related to honey. Call them if you ever want to order a jar of homemade honey.
Bored Beyond Belief Society A good thing about hanging with a bunch of bored people is that anything that you say may sound interesting.
Sheila & Her Dog Society Who wouldn’t want to become a child again? Well at the University of Cambridge you can – read their constitution on this link .
Stitch & Bitch The interests of this university society are not as explicit as their title suggests. They are mainly interested in knitting, but sometimes you may find them drinking tea and discussing the ideas for their next knitting project.
20 Minute Society One of the more adventurous societies if racing against time is adventurous enough for you. Members of this society can receive a text message on any day between 9 and 11 a.m. giving them a certain location in the city, and they have to reach that location within 20 minutes.
Pembroke College Winnie-The-Pooh Society For all the Winnie-The-Pooh fans! You can read more about the society by checking their web-page .
The Custard Wrestling Society Probably the most obscure society on this list. If you don’t know what custard wrestling is, check this video.
Please send us any info about obscure societies at your uni – the weirder the better!