I rang my grandmother yesterday after completely my final arduous formative, and despite her forgetfulness, she seemed so proud of my studying at Durham. In a personal way. Though I’ve not yet really missed home up until now, this phone call made me want to get back, but also helped me reflect upon everything that’s happened over the term as a fresher. The first months of this great bursting personal experiment. This brilliant milestone brimming with new people, new experiences and a new sense of self.
To start at the beginning would be appropriate. Freshers’ week was fantastic. There were bar crawls, activities in the day, a night out in Newcastle (one I can’t remember) – all organised by Freps with energy and exuberance. I cannot thank them enough for all their efforts. Early mornings, late nights and no booze – how did they cope? Honest and welcoming, Freshers’ week gave me a solid grounding for my life at Durham, making me feel comfortable and settled by the end.
A significant change for a silly fresh in Durham is the location. Moving from studying in a gritty, burger-bar city in the North-West, whose most momentous landmark is a monstrous, whale-like bus-station, to an environment saturated with medieval literary history was a significant change. Every time I walk past Durham Cathedral, I’m overwhelmed by the building’s immense majesty and hobbling along the Bailey’s cobbled streets reminds me of how I’m part of a long line of students stretching far back into history – a feeling I imagine you don’t get at many other universities.
Naturally, living in a new place is daunting. There have been times where I’ve felt anguish and stress, confusion and doubt. It’s the normal consequence of working alongside many others who are at the same academic level as you. However, I must praise my college and the university for the support structures readily available for any troubled freshers. People to talk to about problems, whether they be social, academic or otherwise, are vital and I have found that they are an intrinsic part of the Durham ethos. Something, again, I hear is lacking at other universities.
Now onto the most important aspect of university life – the nightlife. I’m not the biggest goer outer but I’ve really enjoyed the nightlife here. The general consensus amongst students is that the clubs themselves are nothing to shout about, but I find there’s always a sensational energy on a night out, since you’ll always find someone you know wherever you go. Yes, there is little playlist variation from club to club, but that’s irrelevant on a Lloyds’ Wednesday when its 2 for £12 pitchers and free entry before 10.
Living in college, I have realised, is again a quintessential part of Durham life and is foundational in really setting you roots into university as a fresher. It offers support and makes getting to know people a lot easier, because helps you get to know many people like you, at meals, at formals and bops and through societies. Living in a collegiate environment, I was even persuaded to take part in Movember. I’m proud to have been part of a university-wide campaign that has raised over £20,000 in aid of men’s health issues. College-living has been my favourite aspect of life in Durham, as it keeps my grounded and supported in my studies.
Overall, in my first term at Durham I’ve learnt 3 things: that is possible to get up for 9am lectures after a heavy night out; that Tindur is a vital source of entertainment in any situation and that I’m actually doing a degree that I may or may not need to concentrate more on next term.