Why are University Clubs and Societies so important?
Cambridge students do not only study hard, they are also very active in student clubs and societies. These non-profit organisations – run by students for students – are ways to meet like-minded people, make friends, and be active in something that matters to you. There are over 300 official clubs and societies (see the full list here), covering an impressive range of interests.
There are, as you would expect, dozens of sports clubs, both for recreational (amateur) practice and competition level. Most Cambridge students practice at least one sport or another, and many students practice at high level. Personally, I was a member of the Hillwalking Club which organised regular hiking trips in the UK, and I had a lot of fun in good company climbing the tallest hills of England and Wales! With over 100 members, it was one of the most popular clubs in Cambridge. Below is a photo from our fancy annual dinner party in 2015. Can you recognise me, sitting in the front row, second from the left? :-)
But there are also countless cultural societies promoting a particular language or culture, since Cambridge is home to thousands of international students. Asian societies are particularly well represented (including the Cambridge Indonesia Association). In addition, you will find artistic societies covering most visual, performing and literary arts, as well as political and religious societies.
Finally, subject-specific and career-specific societies are also very popular: almost any university subject or graduate career you can think of is represented. These help the most motivated students share their passions, improve their knowledge, and develop their networks beyond the usual classes.
In addition to providing fun, social networking and expertise-building opportunities, clubs and societies fullfil another crucial mission: they allow students to learn how to run successful organisations. Most club or society have yearly democratic elections for the committee (typically 3 to 15 students) who will be in charge of the organisation's strategy, administration, bank account, media promotion, website, as well as the day-to-day operations (making events happen). This allows students to practice and learn key management skills that will be important in their future career. I was part of the committee for the Hillwalking Club and I can definitely say that it was a great experience. I would therefore encourage all students to join one or multiple clubs or societies!