Things I Learned in College: Clubs and Organizations

Hello, and welcome back to another post from the “Things I Learned in College” series.

Clubs. Organizations. Meetings.

Besides being a full-time student, attending classes and doing schoolwork and all, we college students are also involved in club activities on the side.

Sometimes, I feel like they are a “second school,” or something. Because the amount of work put into keeping the organization afloat can be just as hectic and stressful as schoolwork. Whether preparing for recruitment, running general and officer meetings, and brainstorming upcoming fundraisers, it can be a lot of work.

Not to say that all of the efforts aren’t gratifying. I really do believe that it can be rewarding, even though the process of getting there can be quite long and tedious, not to forget frustrating, at times.

Over my four years being in college, I’ve been in a good number of clubs and organizations on campus. I joined many, I dropped many. Reasons being they 1) interest me, and 2) I lost interest in them, respectively. Some of them I was attracted to, because of cultural reasons (e.g. Taiwanese-American identity), for opportunities in the future (e.g. editor/publisher for magazine and journal clubs), and even just for personal passion (e.g. writing, French, cooking). Some I would last with for just a quarter, while others for almost three years.

Choosing to stay or not in these organizations really depended on knowing myself: I was aware that I was changing as a person and, because of that, my club interests changed as well.

For instance, I joined the Taiwanese-American organization during my freshman year of college, considering that I identify myself as Taiwanese-American. I had joined in hopes of meeting people who shared the same interests as me, as in enjoying Taiwanese cuisine and learning more about Taiwanese culture. And while the club did do all of those things, I still wasn’t feeling…belonged. Perhaps it was because a good majority of the members were from Taiwan (aka 1st generation immigrants) and they tended to speak in Chinese most of the time. Not to say that I can’t speak Chinese, but my level isn’t advanced, and so I wasn’t comfortable speaking Chinese to them. They weren’t intentionally isolating me by speaking Chinese (they would speak English sometimes, too), but still, I just didn’t feel completely integrated with the people.

Aside from that, the organization was huge. Like, over 100 members. So it can be assumed that the club wasn’t very organized. Which was true; all of their events started late, and just were confusing in the way that they ran the process. I found myself confused and irritated at the lack of unity, and that was another reason why the club wasn’t cut out for me. After my first year, I quietly dropped out; no big fanfare, and that’s all right.

There are a couple of clubs, however, that I had joined early on in my college career, and which I continue to stay with today. I attribute it to the fact that 1) I am attracted to the general purpose/agenda of the club(s), 2) the members in it are great human beings, and 3) I have officer positions, and so I’m obliged to attend. 😛

I admit, I have had fun in these organizations, even if at times it could be rough. The bonding experiences at retreat, or even just getting dinner out in the college town are what have stuck with me, and I wouldn’t choose to replace them with anything at all.

Yes, it can also be frustrating. As I have noticed over the years as a club member, it can be irritating, even discouraging, when people run late to meetings or don’t even show up at all. I know that we all have busy lives, but still, it wouldn’t take too much time to notify the others that you can’t make it on time (or at all).

I guess I’ve become sort of disillusioned with the system, of club meetings and events and everything. Four years has been way too long for me, and I’m starting to feel burnt out from all of the crap that I had to deal with all of this time. Even if there wasn’t the crap, I’m still kind of tired of being in the system.

Still, I don’t regret joining clubs in college. Some of them have provided me invaluable skills that I can use after graduation, whether they’re leadership skills, publishing/editing expertise, or even a better awareness for cultural differences (thanks, French club(s)!).

My advice to prospective freshmen is to join clubs. Live and learn from them, even if it means dropping some for others. That’s okay. We’re all just trying to figure ourselves out in this big, crazy world of college, and our choices of clubs and organizations are reflections of that.

Stay smart, stay classy, and have yourselves a good day! 🙂

– The Finicky Cynic


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