12 Things I’ve Learnt in my First Term at Durham

My first term of Durham has been overwhelming, to say the least. Packed with new faces, late nights, and a balance of highs and lows I feel like I’ve learnt a lot of life lessons (and maybe a little about my degree, too), so here are 12 things I thought I’d share that Durham has taught me over the last ten weeks.

  1. The difference between a formative and a summative. To any other uni student these odd sounding assignments add to the posh stereotype Hatfielders always seem to promote. Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learnt here is the difference between these two – the former being something I can get away with doing over night, and the latter being something that actually matters and counts (but yes, I can hear all the sighs of third and fourth years as they complain that first year doesn’t actually count so us freshers shouldn’t be worried about work anyway).
  2. How to get by in a self catered college with very limited cooking skills. Have I mastered baked beans on toast? Check. Pesto pasta? Check. I’ve also learnt how to survive on a repetitive diet – you lot from the Bailey colleges always seem to be complaining about constant potatoes, but has anyone thought about the fact that having Nutella for three meals a day can get just as boring? Creativity is key when learning how to cook. Speaking of creativity, a bonus lesson I’ve learnt here (one that I never thought I’d need but one of the most important of them all) is how to use food wrapping as part of a DIY costume.
  3. Klute: It may be Europe’s worst nightclub, but pretending to know the words to ‘That’s Amore’ whilst trying not to get drinks sloshed on you as you all attempt to dance in sync in a circle has to be one of the highlights of a good night out here. So although clubbing in Durham may have taught me to lower my expectations of what a good club is, one of the best things I’ve learnt is that all you need for a good night out is cheap drinks, a cheesy playlist and a really good group of friends to dance with.
  4. Budgeting: (or rather, uni has taught me to be grateful for my overdraft). Apparently, budgeting is one of the key skills of ‘adulting’ … I’ve just not managed this yet. Savings are always handy (whether it’s to save for winter ball tickets, or just another cheeky trip to Zaps).
  5. Being different (even if Durham is a bubble): There are so many different kinds of people out there and being different here is definitely a good thing, as I’ve noticed people have been so accepting and friendly throughout my first term here. You’ll be friends with types of people you’ve never come across before, and so being at uni has definitely taught me to never have expectations of the types of people I thought I would be friends with, as the differences between us have actually brought us more together!
  6. How to house hunt. If you’re looking for more advice on this, there have been quite a few recent articles on The Bubble to have a look at!
  7. Housemate tolerance (and how to be more aware of your own irritating habits). I’ve been really lucky with my housemates, but constantly being surrounded by the same people has also put a lot of pressure on friendships and raised a lot of self-awareness about my own habits, whether it be from using the wrong bins, leaving dishes in and not next to the sink, or tripping people up with my laptop charger.
  8. Time management: I’ve definitely learnt the importance of fitting a nap into an overly ambitious schedule, and how to be extra productive writing essays in those not as vital lectures. Also, I’ve grasped the talent of bingeing the last 9 weeks of The Apprentice, whilst still having time for a ‘decent’ nights sleep and prepping for a seminar the next day.
  9. There’s no textbook that will do all the work for you. At the end of the day, I knew uni was going to be hard. What I don’t think I realised was how independent I had to be with the learning. After all, I’m here to get a degree, so a lesson I’ve definitely learnt is that there is no way of getting that degree without having to actually put in the hard work yourself, and for those of us that actually enjoy our degrees, this isn’t that much of a problem.

    Source: Lizzy Aiton

  10. It’s not all going to be rainbows and unicorns. Although uni definitely has given me amazing memories, friends and life lessons, there are definitely parts that haven’t been so great – the homesickness, the weather, and a common feeling of it not living up to expectations. What’s so key to remember is that we’re not alone, and that leads me onto the next one…
  11. Friends: One thing I’ve definitely learnt here is surrounding yourself with the right people can make your entire uni experience. As cheesy as it sounds, friends here have become like family, and I don’t even want to think about the next month where I won’t be with some of them 24/7.
  12. Motivation is key: To end on a more positive note, uni has been amazing at letting me experience so many new things from salsa classes to yoga to joining a hummus society. And although it has been hard to stay motivated at certain times (ie when hungover) what is so important to remember is that we’re all here for a reason, and we’ve all got this far for a reason, so although some of us can’t wait to go home for Christmas, chances are we’ll all be dying to come back to our uni home by the time the New Year’s prosecco has worn off.

    Source: Matthias Schmutzer

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