Ever found yourself saying “So much to do, so little time”? Just wishing you didn’t have so many deadlines? Heaven forbid you add a hobby to your busy schedule, and yet here I am suggesting you do exactly that. Hear me out, it might be a good idea.
Your university experience isn’t just about studying, although that’s definitely a crucial part. It’s also about becoming the adult you want to be in later life, deciding your career path, and aspiring to future goals. You have to get involved in all sorts of activities to find solutions to these; that can’t be done through coursework alone. So I suggest that you take up a hobby or two, sure it’ll eat into your already hectic timetable, but it pays off.
A well-chosen hobby would go down well with employers, plus you can befriend people with similar interests. Hobbies act as a break for university work, so they help prevent burn-out. Most importantly, a really cool hobby lets you boast at parties – who doesn’t want to talk to the university’s current reigning UNO champion?
Perhaps you’re convinced now that a hobby will do you good. But where to start? Here’s a few of mine:
Learn a language
According to a 2016 EU survey, only 35% of British people consider themselves proficient in a second language, which is one of the lowest percentages of all the EU countries surveyed.
But do you want to help break that stereotype of Britons abroad shouting “English? You speak?” to people? If so, university is an excellent place to become a little bilingual. Many universities help students fund and arrange evening language classes for those who are keen. At my university, you can take one of eight languages as part of your degree or as additional modules; it is worth checking if your university offers such a service too. If that’s not available, you could ask students from cultural societies to teach you, plus you can make more friends along the way.
Failing that, there’s always the option of self-study. Your library will have plenty of textbooks, audio CDs and novels to help you practise on your own.
It doesn’t have to be a ‘conventional’ language or even a ‘language’ per se, your interests may lie towards Morse Code, British Sign Language, Elfish, Gregg Shorthand, or the NATO phonetic alphabet. As long as it interests you, you might as well try it.
Become a mentor
What better way to bestow your new-found wisdom onto young students than by becoming a mentor? I’ve acted as a mentor both to UK and international students, and it serves as a unique opportunity to interact professionally but informally with like-minded people. This is an important skill for activities such as networking and speaking with colleagues in a work place. Depending on who you mentor, you could also learn all sorts from other cultures, or about other subjects.
At Tyfy, we make peer mentoring as easy as possible – you can do the whole thing from your phone, and add to your CV in your spare time. We’re currently only available to students at Nottingham University Business School but if you’d like to get involved fill in this quick survey and we’ll see what we can do.
There’s truth in the old phrase ‘travel broadens the mind’. Now, don’t say that you’re a poor student who has no time to travel – I don’t mean booking a first-class plane ticket to Singapore. Travelling could involve taking a different bus to a new part of town or visiting a nearby city by train. You don’t have to go far at all, the point is to explore an unfamiliar place and become better acquainted with your University town. It’s just a matter of breaking out of the student ‘bubble’ and integrating with the locals.
When was the last time you read a book… for fun? University can be a pretty stressful time, not just because of the workload and juggling commitments but increasingly more so from the pressures of social media and technological distractions. There are few better ways to unwind and disconnect than to indulge in a captivating story. I’d suggest your first port of call is your university library – you might be surprised to find it has more than heavy course textbooks. I’ve found books from ‘V for Vendetta’ and Marvel’s ‘Watchmen’, to ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (in English, French, and Latin no less!).
Arts and crafts
Call me old-fashioned, but there’s nothing like repairing your clothes with your own two hands. Arts and crafts are pastimes that many people don’t pursue beyond childhood, even though it’s really great for mindless relaxation. Knitting, embroidery, drawing, painting – these all count. There will be tons of societies at your University that cater to this.
Of course, there are plenty of other extra-curricular activities such as volunteering, sports, or learning to play an instrument that haven’t been listed here. As long as you choose a hobby you enjoy and persevere in it, you’ll reap great rewards.