Before coming to university, I knew very little about what societies existed and what I could participate in. I knew there was a wide variety of them but not necessarily what was available and for what purpose. It wasn’t until Freshers' Week in October when a lot of events and advertising took place from each society that I found out there are quite a few societies representing different countries. I am Portuguese, and it was quite soothing knowing there was a society from the same country as me that came together as a group.
The Portuguese Society
In the beginning, I didn’t really know what being part of the Portuguese society entailed, but I joined it anyway. It was free of charge and there was really no harm in finding out what the society was about. I then joined a WhatsApp group with other Portuguese students from the university. It is quite nice because there are people from different years which can help you make friends and connections with people other than the ones in your lectures.
Being part of a group where people spoke the same language as I did, brought me a bit closer to home. It made me quite happy since even though I might be far away from my home country, there is still a piece of it within the University.
What events take place
Within the society we arrange to watch football matches, we can also have social events and so on. Every society is different so I can only tell you about my experience.
What came as a surprise to me were the events organized by multiple societies from different countries. This meant that for example the Portuguese Society worked alongside let’s say the French Society and Spanish Society and created an event. So far we have had two big events called European Nights, with a third one happening soon.
These are nights out at a club where everyone is welcome to come and have fun, especially members of these societies or simply people from those nationalities. As an international student who moved to England alone, it is quite a nice experience to get to know people in the same situation as me. These societies really do bring people together and allow you to learn more about other countries.
Inclusivity of different cultures within the university
Something I also find really great about the University is how inclusive it is of different cultures. This year, I have seen multiple cultures and religions being celebrated like Christmas, which we are all somewhat familiar with, but also, for instance, Holi.
Holi is a Hindu festival known as the festival of colours. I didn’t know a lot about it but seeing it advertised on the University's social media it sparked an interest in me to research about it. This made me more aware and allowed me to learn about a different culture. This is just an example of a lot of the events that take place on campus or events that are organized by students.
My experience and advice
All this to say that I truly believe that the University brings cultures together through societies, events, and raising awareness. It is quite comforting as an international student and I can assure you that at least I feel a bit at home even though I am not throughout the academic year and I hope you do too!
Moving away from your home country can be scary but at least knowing that the University you are attending is welcoming of your culture and nationality is quite a good feeling and something I wish I had looked into before moving. Therefore, my advice to you is to join your country's society and if there isn't one you can always try to start it yourself. What is really great about Bath is that there are loads of international students and you will feel right at home!