3 min read

International student societies: how to make friends at university

International student societies: how to make friends at university

by Judith Charlton

Wondering how you’ll make new friends when you’re studying in the UK? One of the best ways is to join a student society.

Newcastle University is home to over 27,000 students from 145 countries. With such a vibrant, multicultural community our societies include groups representing countries from across the world – and they’re ready to welcome you.



  1. What is a student society?

  2. What are the benefits of joining a student society?

  3. International student societies at Newcastle University

  4. NUSU’s international Festival of Culture

  5. How to join a society

  6. How much does membership cost?

  7. Don’t want to join a society? What’s the alternative?


What is a student society?

At UK universities, student societies are overseen by the Students' Union. This is a student-led organisation that works to improve student experience through social events, representation and support.

As part of its work, Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) offers over 60 sports clubs and more than 180 societies students can join.

These societies range from course-based groups (such as Biomedical Sciences, Economics, and Mechanical Engineering) to groups interested in hobbies such as music, chess, Bollywood dance, yoga and much more.

In fact, whatever you’re interested in – whether that’s video gaming, K-Pop or anime – there’s probably a society for you at Newcastle.

If there isn’t, and you want to start one, NUSU will support you. Once you have four members to act as a committee and have completed the relevant paperwork, your society is up and running and could become a lasting legacy of your time with us.


What are the benefits of joining a student society?

Student societies offer regular – sometimes weekly – opportunities to have fun and enjoy a variety of social activities. They’re a great way to meet like-minded people, enjoy new experiences and make new friends.




International student societies at Newcastle University

At Newcastle University, over 35 international societies offer a little taste of home, as well as the opportunity to learn about other countries and cultures.

For example, our International Society is dedicated to helping international students settle into life with us. Past events have included a photo scavenger hunt, helping new students get to know our friendly city, and an international Christmas dinner.

You could join our Pakistan Society which meets twice a month for events ranging from Bollywood movie and quiz nights, to ‘chia ‘n’ chill’ evenings, trips to cricket matches, bowling and ice skating.

Our Anglo-Chinese Society organises dumpling-making classes and calligraphy workshops, as well as karaoke nights, meals out in Newcastle and more.

Or how about the Hispanic Society? Members include students from Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil, keen to share their Latin American and Spanish culture with other students.

In fact, from our Afro-Caribbean Society to our Vietnamese Society there’s a friendly community for students of all nations.


NUSU’s international Festival of Culture

As a way of supporting the diversity of its societies, NUSU hosts an annual Festival of Culture.

This year, the festival has been split across five different cultural events: the Jewish festival of Hanukkah; Lunar New Year; Holi, or the Festival of Colours, Love and Spring celebrated by Hindus; Ramadan which is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community; and Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday celebrated on May 5.

Everyone is welcome to get involved, with NUSU and the international societies organising events to showcase the traditions and activities associated with each cultural celebration.




How to join a student society

Joining a society couldn’t be easier. Memberships can be purchased on the society’s page on the NUSU website.

If you want to check out the societies before you purchase your membership, you can keep an eye out for taster sessions, or attend our Clubs and Societies Fair. Held twice a year at the start of Terms 1 and 2, this is your chance to explore all 240+ societies and sports clubs that NUSU runs.


How much does membership cost?

Membership fees help pay for the running of the society. Membership costs are generally low but will vary. You may also have to pay an additional fee to take part in some society-organised activity.

To make sure everyone has the chance to join in, NUSU offers participation bursaries. If you’re eligible, you could get funding to help cover the cost of taking part.

Currently, students can also enjoy a 6-week free trial membership of any society that’s relevant to their course – such as the Business Society, Pharmacy Society or Biology Society. Not only is this a great way to see if joining up is for you, but it’s also a chance to meet fellow students on your degree programme, helping you settle in and feel like you belong.


Don’t want to join a society? What’s the alternative?

If you don’t want to sign up to a society, you can still take part in hundreds of free or discounted activities, taster sessions, and trips through NUSU’s Give It A Go programme.

Running throughout the year and bookable online, you can take your pick of the activities you’d like to try – whether that’s jewellery making, a pickleball taster session, or a trip to the theatre.

Like the societies, GIAG events are designed for you to have fun, meet new people and make the most of your experience with us.


We hope you have found this blog useful. You can find out more about NUSU, its activities and international societies on our website, or you can contact our team at student.union@ncl.ac.uk.