Social life in the Army

I am currently in the process in applying to be an officer in the Army and just wanted to know how much freedom you should expect to have at Sandhurst ect?

I have heard not to expect too much going out in your first term at RMAS but after that are you able to do as you please on most weekends? Would be great if any other girls could give me some info on their Sandhurst experience?



For the first 5 weeks at Sandhurst you are unlikely to be allowed out much, if at all. My memory is that I got into Camberley once when I had to go to the opticians to be sized up for army-issue spectacles and respirator specs. You then get a long-ish weekend after which it relaxes a little bit: essentially you can go out after work as long as you're back by whatever witching hour your CSM or OC nominates. Weekends are normally free after work on Saturday, but you will sometimes have to stay if you're on guard, there's a church parade or whatever.
Your social life becomes the Army...depressing but true. The next couple of paragraphs make me sound quite bitter (upon re-reading them!), but I assure you, they aren't meant to be. Some don't grasp what a massive change joining the Army can have.

In all likelihood, you'll be posted somewhere (hundreds of) miles from home, so your friends become the people you live in the mess with. This isn't all that bad. If you don't get on with them, chances are you've made the wrong choice of Regiment/Corps (see other threads about selecting your Regiment/Corps). Dinner nights, mess outings, longing for the next long weekend so you can get home to see your family without having to turn around again straight away to return to barracks. In short, the social life you know now may not be able to stay! You won't lose your friends, just see them infrequently and have loads to catch up on when you do see them (if they're at all interested in dull Army chat...).

Of course, you may be lucky (?), as with some I've known, and maintain a general proximity to your extant social circle, spending Zero time in the mess, or with your mess buddies. This can be good, but can remove the almost essential element of institutionalisation that being a mess liver in brings. The Army then becomes "just another 9-5 job", but with obvious and frequent inconveniences like exercises, op tours, working weekends etc. Most of the people I have known that got to stay local were the ones that looked to leave their military careers early - a couple have even said that they wished they had been posted away earlier, to experience more of the "proper" Army and not to be able to treat it like a normal job (rather than the cliched "vocation").

I have friends who managed to stay close to their social epicentres (London of course) and actually refused postings to see more of the Army, or actively sought ones that kept them "local". At the time it seemed right for what they wanted - being close to their social lives suited them. Most left at around the 5 year point (or earlier), as they became bored with becoming part of the furniture and wished they had taken the chance to get posted away after all. A couple realised their "mistake" and attempted to get back in, one successfully, one not (it took an age).

Of course, with the return to contingency, all British Army units returning to the UK and other changes, the chances are that the Army of the next 10 years or so may not be anything like the Army I joined (god that sound trite), so maintaining your social life outside the Army may be much easier.

At RMAS, IIRC, no going out in the first 5 weeks, then a long weekend, then you can go out at weekends. You probably could go out in the week, but there is always loads to do, so I can't remember trying too that much.

I'm not suggesting that you will lose your social life, or that the Army MUST BE your social life, just that it is a massive change to lifestyle to most and another thing to consider.

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