Did you know that there are over 60 cultural societies at Warwick? These can be a great place to start to delve into a new culture or practice your language skills – all from the comfort of campus.
Ahead of the new academic year, The Boar had the opportunity to speak to executive members of a couple of cultural societies, who offered insights into their respective societies’ activities throughout the academic year.
Many cultural societies are very inclusive and do not require their members to have a specific background
Given the multitude of cultural societies present on campus, it is perhaps unsurprising that they are also very diverse. Some, like African and Caribbean Society, Arabic Society, or Asian Society, bring together a host of different languages, cultures, or nationalities. Others, such as Ghanaian Society, Welsh Society, or Tamil Society, are focused on one particular language or culture. Many cultural societies are very inclusive and do not require their members to have a specific background.
As Antoni Dziwura, Treasurer of Warwick Polish Society, explained: “Anyone interested is more than welcome to attend our events and join the society – you don’t need to have any knowledge nor previous experience with Polish culture. We will teach you everything about Polish pierogi and Dziady!”
In a similar vein, Leen Khlayfat, President of Arabic Society, said: “We cater to everyone and anyone that loves Arabic culture, food, and language! We are all about celebrating our culture and spreading its beauty and diversity, so we cater to a diverse audience. No previous knowledge is needed since we are a culture-based society.”
Joining cultural societies also allows you to meet like-minded people. Even though it can seem intimidating in the beginning, working up the courage to attend a social event is almost always worth it – just remember that other first-year students are in the same boat as you and likely also looking to make new friends.
The scope of events offered by cultural societies is very wide, ranging from sports and Warwick’s very own circling to career talks and more low-key socials such as film nights or dinners
Miguel Antunez Vega, Socials Officer of Warwick Latin American Society, stressed: “All of our events share the goal of bringing people together, from our gatherings at Terrace Bar and our collaborations with nightclubs (where you can also go sober) to movie nights and celebrations to learn more about Latin American literature and history.”
The scope of events offered by cultural societies is very wide, ranging from sports and Warwick’s very own circling to careers talks and more low-key socials such as film nights or dinners. It’s often best to stay up to date via cultural societies’ social media channels.
When asked about the different events offered by Arab Soc, Leen said: “We run all types of events: bowling and games nights, educational and speaker events, food and drink events, and charity events. And we […] advise freshers to check out our society for the most delicious Arabic food! […]”
Some cultural societies extend the academic aspect even further by offering study and revision sessions, running a foreign-language conversation club, or supporting students planning to go on a year abroad. Alex Müller, Sports Officer of French Society, said: “FrenchSoc is proud to offer a strong support network to those abroad through our FrenchSoc family system. […] We will be running [a year abroad options] meeting this year for all years and will be providing support and advice in preparation for the year abroad.”
European Society offers talks on a variety of topics. As President Sofia Abecassis Saldanha told The Boar: “Our talks are on multiple topics and current events such as climate change, the refugee crisis, and Brexit. Previous speakers [include] professors, MPs, MEPs, the former EU Commissioner Mr Dimitris Avramopolous, [and] the previous High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs Catherine Ashton […].” They have also previously hosted Robert Shrimsley, Chief Political Editor of the Financial Times.
Balls, which many cultural societies offer, are another event which members particularly look forard to
One of the highlights in many cultural societies’ yearly calendars are ‘tours’, trips undertaken by members of the society. Alex told The Boar: “Pre-Covid it was much easier for FrenchSoc to organise trips to France, and there have been a number of excursions in the past. Now that Covid restrictions seem to be a thing of the past, we are open to organising new trips to France or francophone countries [such as] Belgium”, and Antoni announced: “Currently, the exec team plans to organise a winter ski trip [to] the Polish mountains, with details revealed in nearby future!”
Balls, which many cultural societies offer, are another event which members particularly look forward to. Sofia stated: “The highlight of the year is the Spring Ball, where everyone is invited to dress nicely and enjoy great food, drinks and music throughout the evening.”
In times of crisis, cultural societies sometimes also get active politically or are involved in charity. “The newest initiatives of [Polish] Society are related to the tragedy of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Antoni said. “The society has co-organized the anti-war protests during the first week of March and raised more than £2000 which were donated to UNICEF Ukraine.”
As an international student, cultural societies can also help you with homesickness as they facilitate the transition to a new country and provide a space in which to interact with people who share your origins or language.
Miguel said: “Latin American Society has felt almost like a home to me. […] The society has not only helped me share my cultural habits and [allowed me] to listen and dance to my favourite music, but the warmth of the people has paved the way to making my years in uni more unique and special.”