Better late than never: Joining UBES in TB2
The Portland climbing trip last year was my first entry into UBES, so a year on with that trip coming round again, I thought it would appropriate to try give people who are new to UBES some tips on how to join UBES in second term!
DISCLAIMER – contains much info about my life (aka – UBES) and lots of UBESlove!
So you’ve found UBES, you like hiking/climbing or just being outside, it looks like fun – why not give it a go – right?
Except if you’re anything like me, you look at all these (awesome) people who all seem to know each other really well and feel a bit intimidated. Is it a cult? (probably.) You ask yourself if you really like hiking enough to want to devote your life to UBES? (SPOILER: the answer to this is yes.)
So – here’s how I did it:
How to get indoctrinated into a cult join UBES:
Find an unsuspecting current member to teach you to climb at Redpoint.
I was terrified to try go to Redpoint to get some rando I didn’t know to teach me (no offense lovely Redpoint supervisors). So instead I found a certain smol human on my course who happened to be pretty UBES obsessed (Alice Denningbae). Then I proceeded to rant about how much I loved hiking even though I hadn’t done anything outside of DofE and I had no idea that people even did climbing as a thing. This successfully convinced my new mentor that I was serious about joining UBES and she agreed to teach me how to climb.
So try to find a person you know, even if the link is pretty tenuous and you’ve literally just made eyes with someone wearing UBES wear in the library, once you get the talking about mountains they will glaze over and forget they don’t know you! Then use them as a starting point to start do UBES things safe in the knowledge that hey, at least you know one person.
As you learn the ropes (LOL A PUN), you will gradually observe other UBES members and consider maybe even talking to them without running away screaming one day.
*NB: step 1 is optional if climbing isn’t your thing. Can replace this with finding random UBES person and attaching yourself to them to go to pub/social/talk/literally any UBES event ever, until you make other friends.
**You do not have to find someone to go to events with, this is just if social anxiety means going yourself seems terrifying. However, if that is not a concern for you then just turn up to any UBES event, we love meeting new people and are super friendly so you will always be welcome.
Go to a social.
Honestly, I was completely terrified at the prospect of going to a social – what if it was awkward? What if I didn’t know what to say or do? Do I have legs? Can I speak? Is that even relevant?
At this point your trusty mentor comes back in. Make them go with you so you again at least know one person. Also remember that you kind of know the people you’ve been side-eyeing at Redpoint for the last few weeks.
I personally started with the pancake social – because I really like food, so at least if I didn’t like people I would have food, which always loves me back (I think).
Now the trick here, is you can’t stay attached to your friend for the entire evening, eventually you have to branch out and talk to other people that (gasp) you might not already know. This may be scary at first, but little did I know that these people would end up becoming some of my best friends, so it is 100% worth it.
Get involved with the organised fun! It’s a great way to make friends, I met a lot of people in UBES at that social playing human twister (anecdote – ‘put your foot on Ash’s ass’ – Hi, sorry, nice to meet you, don’t mind me *puts foot on butt*) and then finished the evening signing along to Disney and Star Wars bad lip reading videos.
Be a chameleon.
Remember, to assert your dominance, you must confuse everyone. The trick is to introduce yourself to people with different names and change your hair colour. Thus, you are really confusing mysterious. Initially I introduced myself as Harriet and had brown hair when I started climbing at Redpoint, then had banana yellow hair at the social, on Portland I had purple hair, and in Snowdonia is changed from purple to blue during the trip and was known as Hazza. *Update: this is so confusing please don’t do this
NB: also if you want to take this literally and be an actual chameleon then that is also fine chameleons are adorable.
Go on a trip. Any trip. Experience or friends not required.
So after just getting signed off at Redpoint after 3 weeks, the Portland trip was fast approaching. I sent a very anxious email to our then climbing officers Ash and Phil, who I’d only briefly met, asking if I could come on the trip even though I had literally only just been signed off so had a total of 3 weeks experience. In hindsight (according to Phil) although they said sure, this was actually mildly annoying for them since I was down as ‘lactose free’ so it changed their food plans – whoops (I made up for it with sass and charm).
Pro tip – if going on a climbing trip, do not forget to bring climbing shoes. It is not good. You will need them. Luckily, Peter had a spare pair with him which literally saved the weekend for me.
Also, more on asserting your dominance by being weird – when asked who wants just cheese and who wants cheese and pickle in their sandwiches, put your hand up and ask for pickle only, much to the horror of the room – because you ‘just really like pickle’.
Portland was absolutely amazing – I got some amazing climbing done, made friends, discovered my love of ratchet screwdriver and met a sea lion, and these memories will stay with me forever. This trip is not one you want to miss!
So now you have some UBES friends, you’re starting to feel part of it, so don’t stop now, do more UBES things! I didn’t feel up to pub, I couldn’t understand the fascination with going to sit with 20 people who knew each other better than they knew me. So the next option for me was to go on AGM. It may sound serious and like you need to be experienced in UBES to go to an AGM but that’s not it. It’s basically just another Snowdonia trip with the added bonus of a massive bonfire party on the Saturday eve, so if you want to go do some hiking/scrambling/climbing/sit in a pub, then go for it.
6. What next? PUB
That was the last trip of term, what now?! I’m meant to be revising, but what about UBES. I was just starting to get into UBES and now trips are done noooooooo ☹ However, all is not lost! This is the point where in my UBES withdrawal I thought it was time to try going to pub. Pub is great. It is only a couple hours of your time, and you get to hang out with all your new pals, and honestly, it’s great fun. It also helps getting you out of the cave of revision – so for me the medical library – I worked out a great Wednesday schedule of climbing, library, then pub.
Also pub really showed me that I can do anything*** – I turned up one week with my whole head braided in tiny purple/blue plaits. Jono referred to me as a rasta, I politely explained I from ‘the ghetto’ in a nice posh southern accent, and then moved on – so goes to show that UBES people really don’t mind what you look like, they’ll accept you for whatever you’re feeling at the time.
The end!…?? – never.
After a few summer term socials on the downs, some more climbing, some more pub, the term comes to it’s eventual end. For me that meant to start of Summer so the start of UBES summer trips! But it also means some time off (or a summer of placement maybe). I had some UBES withdrawals, but I knew that in a couple months I would be back with the best people, living the dream between my uni degree, and climbing mountains/being outside with people I love. I started the year ready for a year packed with mountains, trips, lake bags (mwahaha you didn’t think I’d get through a blog post about UBES without mentioning lake bags did you) and loving life. Luckily for me I’ll be able to keep bringing my own unique brand of weirdness to UBES for the next 3 years and beyond.
UBES is a wonderful community of loving, kind people who like to spend time outdoors. I waited till half way through my second year at uni to join UBES and joining was one of the best decisions I have made. It might seem intimidating to join and a lot of people seem surprisingly hardcore, but we were all where you were at one point. We are all waiting to meet you and welcome you to the society that many of us call home. New or old, experienced or not, no matter who you are, you are welcome, come and join the fun!
So much UBES love,
Here’s a nice picture of a lake because lakes are great.