This past week was the LSE Welcome week for the 2021-2022 academic year. Following an entirely online freshers week last year, this year’s return to campus was very much welcomed and warmly received. Not only by the new students starting this year but also those who did not get the in person experience last year. I wanted to do my part so applied to give campus tours.
I had a total of five shifts, three and a half hours per shift, some days in the afternoon and others in the morning. Here are some of the unexpected positives from my experience:
1) An opportunity to bond with fellow LSE Students
Going into the role I wasn’t sure how engaging new students would be whilst giving the tours. Would it just be me talking the entire time whilst I received blank faces in return? Was anything I was saying actually taken in? Can they even hear me over the sound of construction (a too real question!) Would the tour maintain their interest? The tours are voluntary so that gave me some assurance that the students who decide to join are doing so because they want to and so will be enthusiastic. But the reception was so different to what I was expecting!
Many of the students on my tours were very much interested in learning about the campus and its history as well as taking an interest in how my experiences of studying here have been. Even the ones who did not have any questions would give me reassuring nods as I spoke. In the end many of my tours ended up with me just talking to the new students about life at LSE and their journeys to getting here rather than the rigid tour giver vs new student dynamic which I thought would be more the case.
2) An occasion to make friends
Though I thought about what my interactions with the new students might be like, I hadn’t considered the fact I would be spending the best part of three and a half hours with the same group of people every day, for over a week. Though I had never met any of my fellow campus tour givers before this week; doing the same task, sitting together waiting for people, going on tours together, debriefing following tours and just sharing this entire experience developed a sense of camaraderie among us pretty quickly. Doing campus tours thus became an inadvertent way to get to know more students who I would not have otherwise crossed paths with.
3) A chance to learn more about LSE
Having spent two years at LSE already, I thought I was quite familiar with the campus and its defining aspects (hence why I signed up to do the tours in the first place). However, you don’t realise how little buildings you actually spend time in until you are given a tour of the entire campus and you haven’t even heard of some of the spots! In addition to this, being a sucker for history meant learning the reason behind a lot of LSE’s most iconic pieces was right up my street. I now have a greater understanding of LSE as a whole then I ever would have had otherwise.
Saving arguably the best for last (kind of joking, kind of not) I didn’t realise how many perks and freebies come with being a part of the Welcome Staff and the Welcome fairs in general. To be fair, most things which came free to the tour givers were also free to the new students but being in every day and being located right in the Welcome square meant we were right in the midst of all the action. And when you have been giving 45-minute tours, a nice pick-me-up doughnut tastes all that sweeter!
There were of course moments of slowness and you need to be prepared for waiting around but overall my experience, giving campus tours, was a positive one. I hope this was insightful into the more understated positives which come with the role and encouraged a few of you to consider getting involved in future LSE events.
Wishing everyone the best of luck for the new academic year!