The life of a final year student: part 2 – new societies and new talents

First published 22nd October 2010

My fourth and final Freshers’ week is long over, and since then the term is escaping from my eager student grasp faster than I can think about it, mentions of Christmas can now be described as common, and everyone seems to have replaced their expressions of being lost with ones of pure confidence. Excuse the atrocious effort to dabble with a different writing style for this introduction; I’ve been reading Stephen Fry’s autobiography. I love him but but I can’t help but try to pull off the pompous style only he can carry so well.

So pretend you didn’t read that, I’ll start again.This year’s Freshers’ week brought a crazy rush of excitement to sign up to every society, AU team and newsletter available in a last desperate attempt to be involved in as much student life as possible in my final year. It won’t last, I really can’t see myself still wanting to run around in a sandpit to hit a volleyball in January, I run away from soft tennis balls most of the time for Christ sake.

One society I am keen to see through however, is Amnesty International. Initially I thought of it as a group of people chanting in the street about issues I’d never felt emotionally attached enough to to genuinely worry about any more than the obvious acceptance that something should be done about issue x, y and z, only it should be up to someone else. One meeting and a lecture on Rwandan genocide later and it’s safe to say I don’t think that now, and once again I feel a bit silly for creating assumptions about something properly without properly investigating what it is they do. Is that what I’m doing, investigating?

Whatever it is I am actually doing, I went along to the first Amnesty meeting of the year. I always feel a bit like I’m in the wrong room but am too embarrassed to leave in situations like this, but there I was. Initially I was actually pretty worried: there were about 20 people here and not one of them was talking to, or making eye contact with anyone else. So I did what I thought was appropriate and sat quietly covering up the screen of my iPhone so nobody could see me looking up the word ‘amnesty’ in an online dictionary. Is this blog actually going to get me somewhere or am I just displaying my maximum effort of stupidity? The dictionary tells me amnesty is the formal act of liberating someone. Well that doesn’t sound like a bad thing, at least. Then came the second surprise of the day (the first being I’d spent 4 hours in the library, then again, I did have a packet of Jaffa Cakes with me), I could talk!

Twenty two years on this planet and I finally found myself in a situation where I was forced to make conversation (not just one either, this was speedmeeting, and many more than the initial 20 had turned up by this point) and there was barely an awkward silence in sight, or sound, whatever. What’s more, I seemed to be doing all the talking. My initial sigh of relief at the provided discussion questions was forgotten when ‘If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?’ (A pigeon, to fly and people watch while eating chips everyday) and ‘Which are your three favourite planets?’ (Earth, for obvious reasons, Saturn for its rings and attractiveness and Pluto for the isolation I envy of it sometimes) were replaced with stories of travel and insights, and wait, is that two minutes already? Moving on. What will next week bring?


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