Editor's Note: The importance of putting yourself out there


MUSE editor Elizabeth Walsh offers her advice for getting involved and making the most of first year.

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Image by Luke Snell

By Elizabeth Walsh

Starting university can be daunting and I remember the mixed emotions of nerves and excitement very well. It only really hit me that I was facing the biggest change of my life, so far, as I sat in the car driving up.

Something else I remember clearly is the advice many people gave me, which was to get involved with everything you can from the start. Of all the things I was told in first year, this definitely turned out to be the most important. It’s also the number one piece of advice I want to pass on to you as freshers this year.

With over 200 societies at York, there is something for everyone and, as you’re reading this, I’ll assume student media is something that interests you. If I’m right, then joining Nouse (pronounced Nooze) is without doubt the best decision I made at university, something many of the editors will agree with me on. If you’re thinking of joining, I encourage you to be brave and put yourself out there. What’s the worst that could happen?

During my first elections I didn’t secure the role I ran for, as my speech was admittedly not very good, but I didn’t give up either. At the end of the night, I asked the then editor if I could fill a vacant role until the next elections and they agreed. I was online editor for a few months and although I didn’t get massively involved, something I really regret, I still managed to have lots of great experiences. I would have missed out on these if I hadn’t put myself out there. I went to the BBC Radio York building and spoke on the radio with other editors and attended the Christmas social to name a few.

Despite really wanting to write, I always doubted myself and so it took a pandemic and way too much free time to push me to make the jump. After seeing my first article online, I kept writing and by the end of summer had written over twenty. Fast forward to now, I have been Arts Editor for a year, which I absolutely loved, and I’m currently Muse Editor which means I help oversee the whole cultural magazine. If you would have told me this in first year, I wouldn’t have believed you, but giving things a go really does make all the difference.

In this edition, we have a range of articles written by a very talented team that will hopefully help you navigate the new world of being a fresher. They will also point you to some of the places and societies (Nouse included) you can get stuck in and get to know people.

A great way of putting yourself out there is reaching out to people first – you never know, that one conversation you initiate could turn into a lasting friendship. I remember asking one of my, now, close friends if she was in the same seminar as we both were speed walking to the Spring Lane building. It can be as simple as that. In this case, why not check out Martha Pollard’s list of top films to watch with your flatmates? Sometimes there's nothing better than a cosy night in front of the TV. If bonding over a drink is more your thing, Ed Halford and Lucy Cooper have put together an extensive guide about the best places to drink in the city. With over 365 pubs, you will be spoilt for choice!

While there is often an expectation around freshers week being ‘ the best week of your life’, if it’s not then that’s okay too. In Comment, Michael Athey looks at why freshers week doesn’t define your uni experience. Some people might take longer to settle in and there's no right or wrong way to do freshers week.

If you feel worried about your interests being too niche or struggling to find like minded people then look no further. As I said earlier, York has more societies than you could ever wish for including those that are more specialised. Over in Sport, Dom Smith looks at some quirky sports for freshers to try and Emily Hewat discusses some of the societies that you may not have heard of but that could be right up your street.

University can be a bit of a minefield at first, and change can take some getting used to. However, you can definitely help yourself out that bit more by putting yourself out there. Even if you're not the most confident person in the world, joining a society you've always wanted to try or one you’ve not heard of before could be the start of what defines your university experience. Even if none of your flatmates want to join, take the leap yourself and you’ll more than likely be glad you did when you look back.