Who doesn't want to be part of a club?
I didn't, so for the majority of my first year I spent that time brooding to myself, stubbornly expecting things to come to me. Alas, they did not, which left me with a lack of friends and very little interests. As a former hobby enthusiast, I knew this would just not do, so after a long hiatus, I decided it was time to venture out and explore the big-wide-world of Hikuwai Plaza on a Thursday afternoon.
Sunny and relaxed would best describe the feeling, kind of like your dad's old Hawaiian shirt that you ‘borrowed', and that you wouldn't mind spilling punch on at a party. With a skip in my step and a beat in my heart, I was ready to sign my name up to a multitude of societies and then forget to show up to the first meeting the next day.
Upon arrival I've got to say, I really liked what they did with the place. Banners and flyers littered the walls, marquees were decoratively done-up all around the outskirts of the plaza, and friendly faces were greeting you at every instance.
Here's when I would've originally turned a blind eye and sauntered off, muttering to myself about ‘institutionalized bullshit' and that I ‘don't need no affiliation'. However, this was no longer my purpose. I was here to make friends, goddammit. And befriend I did. In a modest crowd of students either in between or skipping out on lectures, I finally felt in a place that I belonged, rather than the usual rejection of harsh university realities.
It didn't take long for people to start mingling and engaging in the diverse range of club-orientated activities. From music groups to hiking guilds, sporting pursuits through to cultural unions, each and every facet of the university was on display at clubs’ day.
In a definite act of courage, I mustered up the strength to get talking to some curious individuals; one young man described his experience to me as so far "pretty good", and that "hopefully it doesn't rain." I couldn't have agreed more, and apart from the occasional drizzle, the weather kept itself together well enough for nobody to go ducking for cover.
It was time for me to go find my niche, the people that would click with me the most, so that I could cling to them forever.
I got a chance to interact with a couple of club enthusiasts. I had a sizeable chat with Yasim from Out@AUT, a social group for rainbow students, where I dropped in politely asking about the events they have and services on offer. From the Big Gay Out to Pride Parade, it's safe to say AUT has a dedicated community of supported LGBTTI+ students.
Here's a few things that I started noticing: anyone from absolutely anywhere felt like a part of the expo. There was no exclusion, no outcasts, no frowns, all smiles. Pair that with an ample supply of free food and you have yourself a winner of a clubs’ day.
With a handful of nick-nacks and a bucket's worth of fruit bursts stuffed into my pockets, I would say that clubs’ day was a great success. It may not have had the same hype as O-Week, but it's hard to get students out in numbers once they've realised Jacinda's first free year of tertiary education isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
If there's one thing I took away most of all from the day, it's that you've got to put yourself out there, explore the vibrant opportunities and get involved in a diverse range of activities on offer at AUT to really make the most of your student experience.
Clubs’ day, overall, was a good day.