By Daniella Reyhanian3rd year International Relations student, University of Birmingham

Birmingham University has the perfect balance between student social life and studying for that all important degree. It has plenty on offer for any student and is a place where a student can thrive and have an amazing University life.

Here is my guide to my experiences at Birmingham and how a new student can have the time of their life at University.

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Daniella with friends at Birmingham’s annual JSOC ball

Birmingham is considered as one of four main “Jewniversities”, along with Nottingham, Leeds and Manchester. Its thriving Jewish community and increasingly large JSOC are the reasons which made me so attracted to Birmingham when applying to University.

Although University can be an experience of a lifetime, with memories made that will last forever, it can also be a nerve wracking and daunting experience for those beginning University. I myself was fairly nervous to begin University – coming from a typically overprotective Persian Jewish family, my family were nervous about finally letting their first born daughter out into the “real world”.

Although my family wanted me to stay in London and commute daily from home, Birmingham proved to be the perfect answer to our prayers. The large Jewish community, the prospect of studying at such a prestigious place and the fact that so many of my friends from JFS were also beginning Birmingham were reasons that contributed to my application.

Starting my third year and having had two fantastic years already, I am really sure I have made the correct decision.

Birmingham University’s JSOC is perfect for anyone beginning University as it appeals to so many different levels of religiousness. Both recreational and educational events organised by the committee on a weekly basis really do highlight the large role that Birmingham JSOC has for its students.

Birmingham J-Soc girls after being put through their paces at a bums, legs and tums class last year.

Birmingham J-Soc girls after being put through their paces at a bums, legs and tums class last year.

Last year, being on the committee as the Treasurer, with over 600 members, was an exciting and interesting experience. Birmingham allows one to be open with one’s religion and to be comfortable with however religious you are or want to become.

Being part of Birmingham JSOC has helped my University experience to such a large extent. They make sure that not a single festival during term time or a Friday night dinner go unrecognised and you can really tell that the committee have a great deal of time and compassion for every single member of the society.

  • Freshers week at University is always said to be the week that one never forgets, depending on their consumption of alcohol! Freshers week is no different for a Jewish student at Birmingham. 

Birmingham JSOC has a variety of events during its freshers week, from clubbing to a huge free Friday night dinner that can appeal to students young and old. The new Birmingham JSOC committee have planned an exciting freshers week that will be exciting and enjoyable for everyone that attends.

  • Festivals during term time in Birmingham are always exciting and enjoyable, even though my mother cannot supply her delicious Persian food. Although the food isn’t the same, the dedication and kindness of Rabbi Fishel and his wonderful wife Esther Cohen allows one to have a wonderful time and to feel like you are at your second home.

This year, Rosh Hashana begins during freshers week. Although seemingly very daunting because missing home can be difficult, the JSOC committee along with Rabbi Fishel and Esther Cohen are on hand to provide a wonderful Rosh Hashana for anyone that is at Birmingham. Rabbi Fishel and Esther Cohen also host countless “mix your drinks” nights, which feature prominently during freshers weeks. It is a source of great entertainment and a night to remember.

  • Freshers Friday night dinner is filled with new Birmingham students and all those who are regularly present. 
Students at a 'shidduch-crazed' Birmingham J-Soc ball

Students at a ‘shidduch-crazed’ Birmingham J-Soc ball

Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Succot and Simchat Torah all fall during term time. The welcoming local Jewish community in Birmingham and the synagogue provide a heart warming and important addition to a Jewish student’s life.

  • Social media is an important platform that any JSOC at University uses to its full advantage. Whether it is to publicise events or to stalk that potential shidduch, social media plays a significant role at University. Birmingham JSOC constantly uses Facebook in order to publicise events, and having an important Publicising officer on the JSOC committee, it allows all members of the society to be informed of what goes on.

In my opinion, Birmingham provides an exciting and full Jewish community. It has a caring Jewish community that cannot be beaten. My previous two years at Birmingham have been filled with amazing experiences, and after graduating this year, I am sure that I will look upon my University life with a smile and greatly miss being part of Birmingham JSOC.