The Fishing Society is one of the most notable societies St Mary’s University, Twickenham. In 2020 it was awarded ‘Best New Society’ and in 2021 received three awards including ‘Most Charitable Society of the Year’ and ‘Society of the Year’.
The society was founded in 2019 by Chris Bryde an international Creative Writing student from America. Since then, the society has gained a reputation for offering a range of opportunities to its members including the recent addition of stock market trading classes.
Chris shared his experience of St Mary’s and his time as the President of the Fishing Society with us.
What made you decide to study in London and at St Mary’s over other universities?
There were many reasons why I chose St Mary’s, it’s the oldest Catholic university and I like the history of it. The location, it’s nice to be so close to the Thames and I like to fish so it’s great for that. Travel too, from London you can travel to Paris in a few hours.
What lead you to set up the Fishing Society?
I like fishing so looked at a range of universities with fishing societies in the UK and the US, but the courses were not as good as St Mary's. I thought, if I came to St Mary's I could set up one up and I that's what I did.
In your opinion, what is the purpose of the society? - what does it bring to students?
Fishing is the main thing, adventure and exploring with a group of friends. Friendships that last for a long time, not just networking.
What does the Fishing Society do, how do you decide what activities you are going to do?
We’re quite democratic, we ask for suggestions. For example, we had a poetry reading recently and I didn’t think it was going to work, but it did lots of people turned up. We will do most things as long as people like it. The only things we wouldn’t do is go to clubs like other societies, this society provides an alternative to drinking.
What is your favourite memory of your time involved with the society?
Well, we have about 80 members including alumni in the group chat and between 30-40 active members and when the restrictions were eased, we all met up. It felt like a family, the closest thing I have ever felt to that was during my time in the military.
What do you think is the fishing society’s biggest achievement?
Holding onto friendships with alumni and building friendships with current and new members. I’ve had people tell me that it really helped them come out their shell.
What has been the most unexpected or strangest thing you’ve found about living and studying in London?
There is a stereotype in the US that all British people are posh but actually they’re crazy!
What are your hopes for the society in the future?
I’d like it to continue and in the long-term I hope that even when I’m not at St Mary’s, the university keeps it running. There aren’t many societies here that do outdoor activities and I think students are grateful for that.
How have you found your time at St Mary’s?
Very positive even in Covid-19. I love St Mary’s, it's like a family. I’ve been well looked after and the staff are great like Conor and Anthony.
How was your experience of living on campus during Covid-19?
The first lockdown was a bit hard, but the ref and the library hub stayed open. I’m not a fan of zoom lectures but I think that’s the same for most students, that’s the only criticism I have. All the students still on campus hung out and had really good conversation so I can’t complain.
What is your favourite thing about studying Creative Writing?
The lecturers are exceptionally good, I have had a lot of experience with lecturers - I've done two other degrees in the US but here there's a special quality.
What are you looking forward to in your third year?
I can be creative with my dissertation; I’d like to write something to been published.
What are you thinking of writing?
I’m not really sure, I might do a play, I started writing one as a practice, but we’ll see.
What do you plan to do when you graduate?
I’ve been looking at doing the creative writing masters here or maybe at a university in Scotland, Queen Margret or St Andrews. If I went to Queen Margret I’d do Art Psychotherapy and if I went to St Andrews there’s a variety of courses, I have looked at film and writing.
What is your top piece of advice that you would give to someone thinking about studying at St Mary’s?
Academically, I’d say it’s important to go to the library every day and do a little bit of work every day just to keep up. Socially I think making friends is important, because I see people sat on their own and usually, they are really nice people. So, make some friends even if you join a society, just try to get involved.