I began attending the debates mid-January 2020 after having originally convinced myself that societies weren't for me and wasn't comfortable with the idea of meeting a lot of new people at once. However, I was fortunate enough that a close friend of mine gave me a little nudge out of the door and helped me build up my confidence to attend an actual debate session with him.
When I first entered Cockroft 201 I saw a room full of unfamiliar faces all chatting amongst each other and I felt anxious at the thought of having to talk to new people. I began to wonder whether this was a good idea. It definitely was. Everyone was welcoming to me and though I wasn't confident enough to give my opinion to the rest of the room, I actively listened and chatted with the people around me. That first time felt daunting but I realised almost instantly that this was a place where people could voice their opinions on various thought-provoking topics and meet new people. Through debate, I've made friends that it's hard to picture university life without and has helped shape and better my experience at university so far.
I joined a long time after all of the freshers welcome events and as a result, I found it harder to push myself out the door but that's the incredible thing about our society; you will be met with the same warm welcome if you join at the start or end of the year. If you feel more comfortable with not taking part verbally during debates then great, just sit back and listen. In contrast, you might feel more inclined to speak up and voice your views on the topics presented and that's okay too. Our society aims to bring people together and learn from one another and I found my first experience to be exactly that.