Twelve lethargic months since I arrived in Southampton with bags of ambition and a penchant for cricket (and its tea breaks), I’m as physically slovenly as ever. Instead of locating the gym, I found the pen, leading me to somehow getting charged with guiding you towards the plethora of opportunities to be active. Use my errors as a cautionary tale and you may well flourish.
Tackle the bunfight
Now you’ve made it to the university with a union that has more societies than any other in the country, the Bunfight is the best way to embrace them. Its seven-hour duration may encourage you to grab a lie-in and only turn up for the last five minutes, if at all. But, it may well be the most important day of your first week in the city – and not just because you’ll join the Wessex Scene. There will be queues all over, though a trip around the temporarily labyrinthine Jubilee Sports Hall is worth every second. Over 100 sporting groups will be there waving their equipment and absorbing your email address to bring you into their ranks, with many of them offering activities you’ve never heard of or imagined – think along the lines of TriVolle, tchoukball, Kendo, and the new-for-2016 zorb football and dog sledding societies.
Use the taster sessions
Most groups you sign up for may never be seen outside your email inbox, but many offer completely free taster sessions over the first weekend of October. Hop on a U1A bus towards Wide Lane, the university’s 22-pitch complex near the airport, and you’ll find yourself in a world of literal fun and games. Don’t worry if you miss out, though – head to the Union Southampton website at any point throughout the year and you can find out who to contact if you’d like to take part.
Buy a gym membership
For many societies and intramural competition, you’ll almost certainly need to have a valid Sport & Wellbeing membership, and for those whose active time is best spent in the gym it’s a splendid asset. 12 months will set you back £165 – a perfect way to break into your first student loan payment – although this does also give you unlimited usage of the various swimming pools and gyms, including the flagship 150-station gym on Highfield Campus and the on-site facilities at Glen Eyre, Connaught, and Mayflower halls.
Gear up for Varsity
Varsity, our annual Olympics-in-a-day, gives you your finest excuse to don the maroon and yellow. 2016’s encounters across 38 disciplines saw a record 254-96 victory for Southampton over Solent rivals Portsmouth, and strong participation and support on 2017’s away leg will be vital to ensure more of the same. If you’re not involved, Wessex Scene will have you covered with liveblogs throughout the day, and there are plenty of other competitive fixtures thanks to the university’s presence in 79 BUCS leagues with higher education facilities across the nation.
Support the locals
Fierce sporting rivalries aren’t exclusively the domain of Varsity down here, with a smattering of professional sides based around the city and the local area. Take a trip to St. Mary’s Stadium, located just a short walk east from the city centre, and you can catch Southampton FC and their ever-rotating cast of plucky players destined for bigger clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal. Weather and buses permitting, you can even travel further afield into West End to watch Hampshire’s cricket team at the Ageas Bowl, with well-priced student tickets and a great atmosphere for Friday night Twenty20 alongside an 18-hole golf course that opens next year and a hotel that hosted 2016’s Athletic Union Ball.