Reservations and uncertainty as to what the 2020-21 academic year will look like are entirely understandable, but here at LSU we are working hard to enable you to find your community, notwithstanding the COVID-related changes to normal life.
Ask any Loughborough student for a phrase to sum up campus life and I guarantee you one of the most common responses you get will be that it’s like being part of a big family… a ‘#LboroFamily’.
Whilst some look at ‘#LboroFamily’ with a degree of pessimism – considering it nothing more than a shallow piece of marketing – others completely resonate with the concept that the Loughborough University community feels like one big family. A cohesiveness which their social life revolves around. A sense of community.
Five years ago, I joined Loughborough as an undergraduate and, at first, I struggled to settle in. The kaleidoscope of Freshers can make it difficult to establish a routine. This, together with an underlying sense of pressure to find ‘lifelong friends’, meant that I flitted between clubs, societies and social groups without being able to fully embed myself in the social circles already being established in each of them. It wasn’t until the end of my first year that I found my first extra-curricular purpose at Loughborough: volunteering with Nightline, the out-of-hours non-advisory listening service run by students for students. Even then it took until my third year for me to confidently look at Loughborough and regard it as my family. However, from that point onwards, University became my springboard to develop as a person in every area. I threw myself into the Welfare & Diversity section at LSU, took up a job as a member of student staff at the Union, spent 2 years as the Coordinator of Nightline, before being elected as last year’s Welfare & Diversity Executive Officer. I write this now, as your 2020-21 Students’ Union President, about to enter my sixth year in Loughborough, and a markedly different person to the Fresher that joined in 2015.
Reminiscing aside, there is an important point to me indulging in my past. That is, my advice is to try and ignore the inevitable feelings of pressure to find lifelong friends on your first day at Loughborough. Most of the people around you won’t find their lifelong friends on their first day either, and that’s OK. Whether you throw yourself into your degree and/or an extra-curricular activity, you’ll know when you’ve found the right social circle for you. And once you have found that community cherish and respect it; it takes two to tango.
University life in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be a little different and it may take some getting used to. But there will remain a plethora of opportunities and activities for you to get involved in and plenty of ways to meet your social circle of friends who will become your lifelong companions. With so many groups moving towards a mix of in-person and virtual activities, arguably getting involved has never been more accessible. Loughborough Students’ Union will continue to support you, represent you, and champion you however and wherever you need it at university. We’re here to facilitate communities for you, and that is something each and every one of us in the LSU Executive are passionate about.
Do reach out to anyone on the Executive (you can find all our emails on the LSU website), or come into the Union for a socially-distanced meeting or coffee and we’d be happy to meet you and discuss how we can improve your experience as a student at our university.
Matt Youngs is the 2020-21 President of Loughborough Students’ Union.