Setting off on my 5.5-hour drive to Durham, I felt a nauseating mixture of excitement and nerves; the thought of starting my university journey so far from home was both thrilling and overwhelming. Ten hours later (five traffic jams, three accidents and numerous snack stops inclusive), I arrived in an unexpectedly sunny Durham wondering: was the trek worth it?
I’m now nearly two weeks into my university experience and the answer to that question is a resounding YES!
Durham has not just met but exceeded my expectations. The city is traditional yet vibrant, peaceful yet energetic, walkable yet intricate and so, so beautiful (Palace Green – minus the Covid tent – must be one of the prettiest places in Britain).
As a student city, Durham has happily surprised me. To be perfectly honest, I had set the nightlife, shopping and entertainment bars low, although I had been assured that Durham’s food scene was *chef’s kiss* (I can’t wait to sample the Mexican at Barrio Comida and am patiently-borderline-impatiently awaiting our corridor’s Spags trip promised to us by our Freps). So far, however, Players, Babylon, Fabio’s and even Klute, the infamous ‘Worst Nightclub in Europe’ (it 100% doesn’t deserve that ranking – it was actually my favourite night!) have all been great nights out. That is if you choose to overlook some dodgy music choices… Durham’s bar and pub game has also been strong, though Mildert’s karaoke nights are unmatched. The city has all the basic shops you could need, in addition to some handy fancy dress stores, although I think town is desperately in need of another Tesco (plus one nearer the hill colleges please!).
I’m loving getting involved with all the events the university runs. The society, sport and college fairs offered an incredible range of activities; I signed up for everything from Hedgehog Society to Ultimate Frisbee to mixed Lacrosse!
Without a doubt, though, the main thing that has made my transition to Durham so easy and enjoyable is how friendly and nice everyone is – cliché, but true. I’m yet to meet a single person I dislike! I’m so surprised at how comfortable I feel around people who were complete strangers only a week ago. Thankfully, my corridor is highly non-judgemental (shout out to North Tees 3) which has enabled me to just be myself. Admittedly, I wasn’t looking forward to the awkward freshers small talk but I have actually loved meeting new and interesting people who are so unlike myself and my school friends. I’ve met people from all over the world (as far away as Paraguay and Hong Kong!) as well as fellow Brits who have completely different backgrounds, hobbies and interests to me.
And how can I not mention the Freps! Without their event-organising, talk-and-supporting, helping-back-to-colleging and WhatsApp-messaging, freshers’ week would have been a shambles. Sober as they were, it looked like they had just as much fun as us!
Even though I’m writing this wrapped in 15 layers, 335 miles away from my family in sunny Bournemouth, Mildert’s rainy, duck-infested swamp already feels like home. I’m so glad that I decided to come to Durham; I feel so lucky to call such a beautiful city home, even if it will rain 6 days out of 7 and I will eventually die walking up a hill.