Escaping repetition at Durham: a few ideas

Durham holds a considerable reputation for being small and somewhat lacking in places to go, with many current students reveling in this environment and enjoying the intimacy of the community. There is an undeniable charm about the city that makes it easy to forget you have enjoyed the same lunch, from the same café, five times that week.  


It’s simply too easy to fall into a trap of repeating the same thoughts, routines and conversations every day. This is because one of the biggest struggles of ‘student living’ is freely moving between brackets created through friendships, work and/or mental states. These brackets translate into stereotypes that can encircle a person for their entire university career. For example, many receive the stereotype of the library regular, maybe the person who has an extreme work/party imbalance, or the student so committed to their sport no-one has seen them since 10am yesterday morning. The repetitive and fast-paced nature of university means that once you muster up enough energy to enter a state of mind, it can be near impossible to exit this chosen mindset before the term has ended. Hence why many students tend to choose certain aspects of their life to nurture at any one time – balance is simply not feasible in many cases. Thus, many can feel overwhelmed, underachieving and ultimately, claustrophobic.  


There comes a time in every students Durham career where they must actively try to prevent this claustrophobia from creeping into existence. If you are one to relish in repetition, by all means exclude yourself from this bracket. For all others, here is a full day plan, for those feeling rather closed-in and in need of breather, without actually having to escape Durham: 


Mornings can be difficult when feeling claustrophobic as it’s hard to encourage yourself about the day ahead. Make yourself a cup of tea, preferably a flavor you don’t normally have. Open all the windows in your house/room and pick up your favorite book. Sometimes the art of escaping means revisiting your old classics, the nostalgia transporting you back in time. Once dressed in something you don’t usually pick out from your closet, you’re now ready to venture out for some fresh air. Durham boasts a huge amount of trails around the city. 


If wondering how to fill an afternoon and the thought of going to see the Alpaca farm for the fiftieth time doesn’t take your fancy, why not try climbing the 325 steps to the top of the Cathedral? Or alternatively, you could just walk to JoBo and back down the Bailey – it should be the same amount of cardio. Pop on a new episode of your favourite podcast – See how long it takes to walk the length of the colleges, it really does the trick. For the linguistics out there, maybe a bit of Coffee Break languages or an episode of Scotland Yard Confidential for the crime fanatics. Those into Health and lifestyle could check out the Zoe podcast that discusses an array of topics from the benefits of oils and fats, to the trick of getting a good nights sleep. You could also walk around the various historic ruins around the Bailey. Rather than exercising to ‘clear’ your head, the emphasis here is to have a purpose to your walk. This is so that on your return, your mind is full of a new concept and not ready to bounce back to prior self-confinement. 


New food picks include Pizza Punks, where you can load basically any topping of your choice onto a pizza for £12. Ordering a pizza with new potatoes, pineapple and pulled pork will definitely give your body a surprise. Picco D’Italia is also relatively new on the Durham restaurant scene. Schemes like Too Good To Go are great alternatives as you get given various foods that you may not have considered buying, all whilst supporting the anti food-waste movement.


Pubs like the Station House, the Victoria, and the Kingslodge Inn are all great places if looking for a pint without running into your ex and their nan. The Station House won North East Pub of the Year 2022 for its friendly approach and wide variety of home-brewed Cider and Ale. Not only is there a distinctive local atmosphere, but the multi-faceted layout of the pub means there are plenty of seats and places to hide – if that’s what you’re looking for. The Kingslodge Inn advertises itself as offering the best Sunday roast in Durham. Not only does this accolade boost its charm, but so does its position slightly out the centre of town. Grab a friend, a pack of cards and go slightly early. Nothing better than still having time to yourself later.  


In all seriousness, it’s key to mention that trying different places to study, eat and exercise won’t help you really feel less claustrophobic. The only way to feel you’ve truly had a breather is to remove yourself entirely from the Durham mindset. To do this you must stop giving into your daily norms just because you’re comfortable. Allowing yourself to cruise won’t motivate you to feel an abundance of dedication to your studies or your own personal freedom. 


It’s also important to mention that trying to ‘escape’ Durham without actually leaving can be very difficult. By all means a trip away is not cheating if your body needs it… 

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