by Evey Moriarty

After my comments in my last diary about not really feeling involved enough in the life of the University to care much about Varsity, I made two things my mission.

The first was to educate myself a bit more about what actually goes on here – after all, there’s a lot more to life here than the tiny microcosms of our halls or houses, and a lot more to get involved with than lectures and the (not so) occasional night out. It turns out I picked exactly the right time to try and feel more a part of Swansea University’s wider life, because these are busy times. We’re right in the middle of Sabbatical Officer election season, something which is impossible not to be at least vaguely aware of given the amount of posters and leaflets appearing everywhere from Level 2, our lecture theatres and even our own kitchens.

Campus has become campaign central this week

However I was surprised how many of my flatmates and friends either aren’t going to vote or don’t really know what they’re voting for. I didn’t really know the full extent until I read an explanatory article on this very blog, but I think, aside from how massively important to our university’s life the Sabbatical officers are, voting in this is important for Freshers for other reasons.

This (apart from SGMs) is our first real chance, en masse, to play an active role in our University: to decide how it makes decisions and how it will be run for the whole of our second years. Surely there’s no better way to feel like a proper, fully-fledged member of Swansea University than that?

The other thing I resolved to do was make more of an effort to consult other Freshers about the issues I discuss here – after all, this is Diary of a Fresher, and I want to give a proper picture of first year, and I’m well aware that in a few respects I’m probably not exactly representative. I’ve already mentioned discussing the election with friends, and the picture I got was fairly standard: many don’t care, a few are voting for their friends, a few wish exactly what’s going on had been explained more fully, and some are taking a genuine interest. I’ve also been talking to a lot of people about my other concern: feeling part of the University, and when, exactly, Swansea goes from being ‘away’ to being ‘home’.

I caught myself a few times over Christmas referring to things here as ‘back home’, and while I do largely still feel like I live up north, I’d miss Swansea if I left for good, and the same seems to be true of most people I’ve spoken to. We still feel like our home towns are our actual homes, but we’ve all lived here long enough to have genuine affection for the place. I guess we’ll all feel even more like this is home next year when we actually have our own houses. First year is a weird time in terms of that sense of belonging, because there’s real conflict in the transition from feeling like an outsider and feeling like a proper Swansea resident, but we have plenty of opportunities to feel more a part of the town in which we live and the University we attend. I think my main advice to other Freshers this week who still don’t feel like a full part of Swansea life is to make an effort to learn more about and vote in the Sabbatical elections! Voting kicked off today, so go on, get to it!