As we approach the half way mark of term, our Student Life editors have taken a moment to reflect on their time at Durham so far, discussing integration into a new lifestyle, expectations and pressure and homesickness.
Hannah’s thoughts on first year
‘A levels are harder than university’; it’s a phrase we’ve all heard from our parents, grandparents, and even older siblings, but a month into my first year at university and I can safely say (as well as many other ‘Freshers’), that this phrase is one hundred percent incorrect.
Freshers’ week seemed to fly by, and life is now full of new friends, new experiences, and countless essays all due within the span of three weeks. I say all of this, but the first month of university has been one I won’t forget quickly.
From food poisoning on matriculation to dancing completely sober with the FREPs in our college marquee, the last few weeks have been like no other I’ve ever experienced. Like many others, starting university has been a chance to be independent and to begin to discover who I am and where I want to be when I graduate from Durham. Whilst undoubtedly scary—and I’m sure many others will attest to having occasional spells of home sickness – the laughter, madness, and mayhem of the first four weeks of university have, without question, been the greatest start to a new chapter of life and the future as a whole.
Melissa’s second year reflections
Second year has come around all too quickly for my liking. It feels like only a few weeks ago I was moving into the halls of Mary’s and meeting my household for the first time. For me, this year has already proven to be quite surreal — seeing everyone in a lecture theatre for the first time for starters. Not only that, but living out, cooking for myself and returning to a ‘home’ everyday feels like adulthood is well and truly underway. Looking for houses for next year reminds me that the half way mark in my degree is fast approaching. Though, going out to clubs and bars and meeting tons of new people brings a sense of euphoria — I am living the ‘uni life’ after a year of lockdown. Involving myself in all sorts of societies emphasises the sense of community is what I’ve always looked forward to when picturing my time at university. I’ve met some absolutely fascinating people and had some truly inspiring conversations with folks I’d have never bumped into otherwise. Though the academic stakes are inevitably rising this year, I’m starting to understand what it truly feels like to be a Durham student.
With that in mind, my advice would be to integrate yourself into university life as much as you possibly can. Perfecting the balance between work and play takes some getting used to, but the right amount of each provides a wonderfully exciting experience. Getting stuck into lectures and reading in the day, accompanied by an evening of the Harry Potter society and an occasional night out to Osbourne’s is the perfect way to enjoy the year, especially for freshers. Take some time to love your friends whilst finding new ones, and enjoy your experience. After all, what’s university without stories to tell?
Livia’s outlook on third year
Being in my third year of uni seems almost surreal. Whether it was the pandemic or my own personal imposter syndrome, it seemed like this would never happen. Now that I’m here, it seems almost overwhelming. The thought that, in just nine short and fleeting months, I’ll be walking out of the cathedral and into my new future is terrifying – mostly because I don’t know what that future will hold. As a third year, there’s a massive amount of pressure to get things right: you have to pore over books until you have nothing more to give to get those good marks on your essays because this year really really counts; you have to prep and prime those postgrad applications so that no university or employer could bear to turn you down; you have to enjoy every last second of this entire year because, well after all, it’s your last and, after the year and a half we’ve all had, there’s a lot of making up to do.
So, if there’s a piece of advice I could give to freshers, it would be to take each day as it comes. In education, we are so accustomed to looking at the bigger picture: good grades equal good university equals good job. We often take for granted the little things, like the way it feels to walk through fallen autumn leaves on the way to your next lecture and the view from Baths Bridge on a particularly beautiful morning, the things that we will miss when all of this is gone.