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I went to five random sports clubs and societies for a week

It’s never too late to try Chez!

Michaelmas is a great time to try out the hundreds of sports clubs and societies available in Cambridge. Newcomers to the university will probably appreciate the diversity of clubs and societies more than most but as a third year, who believes it’s never too late to try new things, I spent last week going to five┬árandom sports clubs and societies to see what they had to offer. Here’s how it went.

1. Cambridge University Athletics Club (CUAC)

My fellow sprint runner Philip and I at the end of training (Image credit: Sam Oteng)

CUAC isn’t strictly speaking a new sports club for me, as I did go last year for a short sprints training session, but I thought it would be a good starting point for the week. Despite it not being my first time, the atmosphere felt new and refreshing as Monday’s sprints session was many people’s first, so it was nice to try something new together.

Once the lunges, squats, A and C skips, and acceleration drills were over, I suddenly remembered that sprint training does involve actual sprinting. I’ll admit I was a bit out of practice and I was reluctant to join the group of runners who had been before but after I got going the enjoyment and rewarding feeling athletics gives you soon came back to me.

Though we were advised not to push ourselves too hard, the senior members of the training squad treated the running drills like they were being televised! Am I bitter that they’re so fast? Yes, yes I am. Nevertheless, with such a welcoming environment, nice company, and memorable socials I’ll most definitely be back. Perhaps some of you reading this will be there too.

Wilberforce Road Sports Ground, Monday 4.30pm.

Enjoyment score: 10/10.

2) Cambridge University Liberal Association (CULA)

Lib Dem policies, politically active students, and drinks – what more could one want…well, maybe a mini fridge (Image credit: Sarah Anderson)

CULA was the first society of the week. I found myself at a Spirited Discussions event they run, having mainly avoided the murky world of Cambridge student politics – people up in your DMs begging for your vote tends to put you off. However, I have to say that I was surprised.

CULA was the first society of the week. I found myself at a Spirited Discussions event they run, having mainly avoided the murky world of Cambridge student politics – people up in your DMs begging for your vote tends to put you off. However, I have to say that I was surprised.

The second motion was on whether or not some knowledge is best left undiscovered. The discussion began with some deeply insightful thoughts. Out of nowhere, the tone switched, with participants sharing speeches about the content of their parents’ bedroom drawers…

As entertaining and engaging as my first CULA event was, I thought I’d best leave it there.

Again, CULA had a very inviting atmosphere, there was of course the odd political disagreement but always a respectful tone. Whether you’re a future deputy prime minister or just want to have your say, I’d recommend coming along to this kind of CULA event or the many others they run.

In the interest of fairness, there are other events run by student politics societies in Cambridge such as Pints and Policy, Port and Policy, or the Wilberforce Society’s equally thrilling version: Policy.

Little St Mary’s Church, Tuesday 7.30pm.

Enjoyment score: I’ll keep my cards close to my chest on this one.

3. Cambridge Women in Business (CAMWIB)

Sarayu, the President of CAMWIB, and me (Image Credits: Emma Scott)

Now, I’ll be honest, I forgot to organise a society to visit on Wednesday – blame Grandma Groove and excitable friends. That was until I was kindly invited to come along to a CAMWIB meet and greet they were hosting that very evening. Seeing as this article is about highlighting the array of societies available across the university, I thought CAMWIB was worth highlighting as a space aimed at others if not myself.

I spoke with their president who outlined CAMWIB’s goal of drawing together a range of career insights and opportunities for women into one society. Having started life out as Cambridge Women in Leadership Society back in 2011, before becoming CAMWIB in 2016, this is a bourgeoning society with esteemed guest speakers, active alumni engagement, and plenty of opportunities to network. CAMWIB events are a must!

Old Divinity School, St John’s, Wednesday 7pm.

Enjoyment score: *insert enjoyment rank of an actual CAMWIB member*.

4. Chez Society

Bamboozled by the rules of Chez (Image credit: Percy Hartshorn)

Chez Society (not to be confused with Chez Geek) was on another dimension of university society. It exists at a different level of comprehension than many others. I’d go so far as to say the intricacies of the Medical Sciences Tripos pale in comparison to this colossus of a game.

Chez is a homemade card game, created by a student in the university, that involves strategy, cunning, and a little risk-taking. A pack of cards, an extra joker, and a set of seven dice and the fun begins. After I learned the rules, which at first lost me completely, I found myself playing game after game.

Castles and revolutions and mayhem and more were thrown at me, but luckily I was sat with the creator of Chez who was more than happy to talk me through the new additions to each game as the evening went on. Seeing as Chez only exists in Cambridge, and has not thus far been replicated elsewhere, I see it as a society that spans the entire cosmos. Makes a nice change from my typical Thursday evenings. Chez = recommended.

Fitzwilliam College (my base of operations), William Thatcher Room, Thursday 7pm.

Enjoyment score: 100/10 (so long as you understand the rules).

5. Phys NatSci lecture (AQP)*

My emotions pre-lecture (Image credit: Ashvin Vijayan)

*I had planned to go to Ultimate Frisbee at Homerton that evening but it was raining heavily, and I couldn’t be bothered. Sorry, Zaid.

Ok, this wasn’t a sports club, nor a society, but it was something I’ve felt like trying for a while and a singular NatSci lecture requires about the same level of commitment as any club or society. Therefore, in my mind, it counts.

It’s crucial that I mention I’m a history student. I wasn’t designed to produce equations related to Landau levels (a concept which still alludes me), I was designed to produce essays. What’s worse is that I genuinely thought I’d walk away from this lecture with at least one fact I could chuck into a dry convo or a pres that none of my mates were at. This did not happen.

There I was sitting in an advanced quantum physics lecture like a lemon and I thought to myself: This trying new things malarkey ends here. I did learn one thing though. Any NatSci nursing a post-Revs hangover instead of going to one of these lectures is playing with fire. One or two people I know fall into this category – they’re braver than me, I’ll give them that.

A photo of the notes I took was going to be part of this article but what’s the point, I had no idea what I was writing down even meant. To those who were in that lecture last Friday and understood it, fair play. The department of physics was a charming place to visit and then promptly leave. I recommend in the strongest possible terms that only Phys NatSci students attend these lectures.

My emotions post-lecture (Image credit: Ashvin Vijayan)

Enjoyment score: 0/10.

Cavendish Laboratory, Department of Physics, Friday 11.30am.

After having spent my weekend crying into my pillow for not working hard enough on STEM subjects at school, I looked back at the clubs and societies (and lecture) I had been to. I remembered how fortunate we are to have so many great extracurricular activities to occupy us. From Mixed Lacrosse Club to Doctor Who, from Korfball to ACS there are so many sports clubs and societies to get immersed in or just have a try. There’s no time like the present to get involved!

Except for rowing. As Miriam Margolyes once said: “be careful!” Rewarding as it is, if you start rowing you will never leave.

Featured image credits: Percy Hartshorn.