Freshers’ Reps

These are the people who have organised the events for Induction Week and will be around throughout to answer any questions you may have. Feel free to contact any of them before coming to Durham as they are all more than happy to help.

Introduction from your Senior Freshers’ Rep, Michaela Abbs

Hello Year of 2020! My name is Michaela, a fourth year Law student and I am your Senior Freshers’ Rep.

Without a doubt this has been, and will continue to be for a while, the most unique exam period and entrance to university that we have experienced. You all deserve a huge congratulations for what you have achieved, not just in gaining your place at St Mary’s College, Durham University, but in enduring a really tough lockdown. I know it hasn’t been easy, but the Frep Team, Joe and I are here to ensure that you see a light at the end of the tunnel. The Team, alongside Joe our fabulous JCR President and myself, have spent this summer frantically keeping up to date with the ever-changing situation to ensure that, in line with government and university guidance, you all get a Freshers’ Week that is as close as possible to our traditional one, and one that introduces you to as many college and university opportunities as possible.

Coming to university is daunting enough but given the summer we have had it may be even more so. I am returning to Durham from my year abroad in Spain and having been away from Durham for a year (give or take a couple of visits because I can never stay away too long) I too am a bit apprehensive of what my final year will look like. However, you’ll be arriving at, in my not so unbiased opinion, the BEST college to help support and settle you into university life. Your Freshers’ Representatives, or “Freps” as you’ll hear them called, will be the bounding purple T-Shirts that greet you upon arrival at the college, and will be your ports of call for any guidance, reassurance or advice you may need, not just during Freshers’ Week, but throughout your time at Durham if you so wish. Our events, though in some senses unconventional, are there to help you settle in and socialise, and hopefully meet the group of friends that will become like a second family, in your second home. The people I met in Freshers’ Week, 3 years later, are still some of my best friends. But who you connect with is by no means limited to that first week. My house mates this year I didn’t get close to until my second year, and if you have a chat with any frep you will find that it is totally normal for it to perhaps to take a while to find your group, but you will find them.

I cannot emphasise enough how much St Mary’s can offer you in terms of things to get involved in. College offers an incredible array of societies and sports teams, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for within college, you have the freedom to create your own society within the JCR! Beyond that, you have the university-wide societies and teams as well. Our Frep Team show how much is out there to try; take a look on the back of each of their T-Shirts to see what they have been involved in over their time at university and you’ll see what I’m talking about when I say there is lots to try. And that is the most important thing to do, TRY! Joining Mary’s I hadn’t played netball since I was 14. 5 years later I was a part of Mary’s Netball C Team (lets ignore our abysmal losing streak). I have been Mary’s Dance social secretary, almost created human skewers playing for the Darts E Team, attended Law Society events not knowing anyone and finally, I put myself out there and became your Senior Freshers’ Rep.

To this end, your Freshers’ Week is your chance to find out what there is on offer and meet new people. The week can look quite overwhelming, with department talks and college activities going on and being away from home, for the first time for many of you. SO… I cannot stress this enough, when you need it, take some time for yourself. I found my Freshers’ experience incredible, but I took one night off during the week to stay in, join the chill activities and just breathe. It made the world of difference. Our fantastic Welfare Team will be there throughout the week if you need to talk and catch ups will be held not just by welfare reps but also by our marvellous LGBTQ+, Ethnic Minorities and Disabilities Reps, should need them.

The last thing I have to say is be yourself. There is something for everyone, and most likely a member of the Frep Team who has done it or knows about it who you can grill to find out more. Don’t worry if you’re nervous, almost everyone is, and this is totally normal. Just throw yourself in!!

If you have anything questions, concerns or issues, no matter how silly they might seem, don’t hesitate to contact me ( and the team! Utilise the St Mary’s College Freshers’ Page to keep up to date and ask away!

I am so excited to finally get to meet you all! Enjoy the rest of your summer, and don’t worry, we’re here to make this transition as easy as possible!

Michaela x

Senior Freshers’ Representative 2020/21

Introduction from your (Acting) Senior International Students’ Reps, Michaela Abbs & Joe Castledine

Hello AGAIN! No, your eyes do not deceive you, it is me, Michaela, your Senior Freshers’ Rep. Why am I writing under the International Freshers’ Rep you may ask? COVID has impacted not just the way we will organise and run Freshers’ Week activities this year, but unfortunately it has also meant that our International Freshers’ Rep had to step down from the role earlier this summer, and Joe and I have been sharing the role for the purposes of the Induction Period.

You’ve heard from me already about the general arriving at university spiel, but I also know the additional challenges that being an international student in a foreign country can bring. Quickly, my heritage is a wild mix of English, Aussie, Spanish and a few others thrown in, and I moved from England to Hong Kong when I was 14 years old, where my family lived for the next 5 years. Prior to coming to university, I took a gap year, and worked in Argentina where I knew no one, and the language of communication was not my native tongue. Finally, this year I have been studying Spanish Law in Segovia, Spain on the Erasmus programme. So… I know a little something about how hard it can be moving countries, combatting language barriers, and finding your way in a new culture.

My time away from Durham this year really highlighted how important the Freshers’ Week is for international students especially. Whilst Segovia was almost a Spanish version of Durham (look it up, has a cathedral, a viaduct, everything!), the lack of structured introduction to the city, the university and the opportunities on offer meant my transition to life there was much more difficult than I had hoped. But you guys are extremely lucky, because St Mary’s College runs a week that will help you not only integrate into Durham University and college life, but will celebrate the diverse community that makes up St Mary’s. During the international week section of the Induction Period, the freps will be there to assist with making sure you guys find your way, feel supported and have everything set up and ready for when term finally starts.

Speaking of our team, our international freps have faced the same challenges you guys are about to in arriving at university in a different country, and so please do talk to them if you are struggling with anything, both in advance of and during Freshers’ Week. What makes Mary’s so special is that you truly aren’t alone in your experiences or struggles. Our team want to help when needed, and always have an ear to lend if you just want to talk.

A couple of things to keep your eyes peeled for to help you as international students during your Induction Period include:

  • The British Culture Series, introducing you to and explaining the wonderful oddities that make up Britain (my favourite thing one of our own international freps asked me was what actually is a yorkshire pudding, and why is it called a pudding?!); and
  • An international evening where some of the nationalities represented in the college will be celebrated by showcasing different elements of their cultures and sharing these with the domestic students.

Please don’t hesitate to contact any of us with questions or concerns. This year we know it will be especially hard for some of you, but like I said, we are here to help! So if you need, please email me ( and reach out to our freps. There is no such thing as a silly question!

Michaela & Joe x

Senior International Students’ Reps 2020/21

Freshers’ Reps (‘Freps’)

Hope Franklin, History, 2nd Year

Hi! My name is Hope Franklin and I am a second year studying history from Miami, Florida, and no, I don’t go to the beach every weekend, but I did have my senior prom on an island overlooking the city which was pretty cool. I have three dogs who I am obsessed with and are literally the sweetest things you’ve ever seen, fun fact,. And my parents are so extra that they all have middle names. I am an extrovert who loves going out and laughing with my friends, but I also enjoy reading (feel free to ask for or give me any book recommendations) and binging Netflix (any Office fans out there?). I also play piano and guitar and, pro tip, if you play piano as well, there is one in Chad’s bar. Personally, I love it because when my friends and I go there we’ll play songs and sing and it’s stupid but it’s a blast.

Although Durham is the exact opposite from sunny, beachy Miami, it truly is a place I’ve grown to love. Whether I’m having a pint with friends at The Swan, going to a floodlit rugby game, or even hanging out in the JCR to play pool on a quiet Saturday night, there is such an array of things to do at Durham to keep you busy and to have fun. Although it can be daunting in a new place, enjoy your first year and all of the new experiences it brings. Join societies for activities you love but also challenge yourself and try things you’ve never done. Before Durham I had never thrown a dart in my life but now it’s one of my favorite things to go and do on Monday nights. Your Freshers’ Week might not look the way you expected it to but still make the most of it! All of your fellow freshers are also nervous and excited about university so don’t be hesitant to say hi to people in your corridor or in the dining hall. You never know who your new lifelong best friend will be. And, on the off chance you don’t immediately click with people, don’t worry! Sometimes it takes a little longer to find your people but don’t sweat it! Also remember, Freshers’ Week can be really exhausting so be sure to take time to yourself and rest. Whether this is reading a book, watching a show, or calling a friend or family member, make sure you take AT LEAST 15 minutes or a half hour a day to sit and make sure you’re doing ok. There’s absolutely no shame in that. And if you get fomo, remember that your Freshers’ experience isn’t limited to just the first week–you have an entire school year of activities ahead of you. Take care of yourself! And I know it’s a cliché and so cringy, but be yourself. If you just be who you are, you are going to find people who won’t judge you and enjoy who you are. It’s college, there are thousands of students here for you to meet so don’t stress about it. And honestly, just live in the moment. Uni is such a unique experience so enjoy it! We’re so excited y’all are finally here!

Elisa Benham, Natural Sciences, 4th Year

Hi everyone! Congratulations and welcome to Mary’s; you’ve got some incredible experiences ahead of you. I’m Becky, a third-year Law student.

During my first year I was a member of Mary’s Rowing and Hockey as well as participating in Tenants’ Rights and Durham Mooting. In my second year I added Mary’s dance to this list and became Captain of Mary’s Women’s Hockey team. Mary’s is a brilliant college to be part of and one that has given me many amazing memories. Some standouts are the hockey clubs’ ‘would I lie to you’ social, stumbling through a Mary’s dance performance at The Revival (a charity fashion show) and Palatinalps (the university ski trip).

Even as a northerner I find Mary’s and Durham cold, so I’d advise you to bring a double duvet! It won’t go to waste as you’ll probably need one during second and third year. I would also encourage you to sign up to any society or activity that may interest you, it’s a great way to meet new people and get more out of your university experience.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at I look forward to meeting you all soon!

Erin Marks, English Lit, 3rd year

Hi everyone! I’m Erin (she/her) and I’m a third year currently studying English Literature here at Mary’s! First of all, I want to offer you all a h u g e congratulations on making it to the best college in Durham! Mary’s is known across Durham for being the friendliest (and prettiest) college and I can wholeheartedly say that this is true. I hope you are all excitedly counting down the days until Freshers’ Week begins, however if instead you are feeling apprehensive and even a little scared that is okay!

When I arrived at Mary’s two years ago I was an incredibly shy, nervous and anxious gal who thought that she would never settle in and enjoy Durham; so I know exactly what you’re going through and I’m here to tell you the Mary’s community is full of wonderful people who can help you through it (shout out to WAM!). Even though I’m so far away from home Mary’s feels like another family and it’s super easy to get involved in college life no matter what year you’re in. I’ve been a part of ball committees as well as being informal secretary last year, it’s so much fun helping to organise social events as well as being a great creative outlet! I’ve also loved playing netball for Mary’s (they have four teams so it’s easy for anyone to get involved) as well as helping out with WAM, which is an essential part of Mary’s.

The advice I would have given to my fresher self would be to remember that your university experience does not have to be defined by Freshers’ Week. It’s a crazy, intense and exciting week but it can get overwhelming! Throw yourself into everything you can but remember that it is also okay to put yourself first and get an early night if you need it. You have so much time to be with people and have fun, so get that extra sleep if you want to. Just be yourself and enjoy it! Congratulations again on your amazing results, enjoy the rest of your summer (you really deserve it!) and I can’t wait to meet you all soon! Erin p.s feel free to email me at if you have any questions or fancy a chat!xxx

Becky Marsden, Law, 3rd Year

Hi everyone! Congratulations and welcome to Mary’s; you’ve got some incredible experiences ahead of you. I’m Becky, a third-year Law student.

During my first year I was a member of Mary’s Rowing and Hockey as well as participating in Tenants’ Rights and Durham Mooting. In my second year I added Mary’s dance to this list and became Captain of Mary’s Women’s Hockey team. Mary’s is a brilliant college to be part of and one that has given me many amazing memories. Some standouts are the hockey clubs’ ‘would I lie to you’ social, stumbling through a Mary’s dance performance at The Revival (a charity fashion show) and Palatinalps (the university ski trip).

Even as a northerner I find Mary’s and Durham cold, so I’d advise you to bring a double duvet! It won’t go to waste as you’ll probably need one during second and third year. I would also encourage you to sign up to any society or activity that may interest you, it’s a great way to meet new people and get more out of your university experience.

If you have any questions please feel free to email me at I look forward to meeting you all soon!

Matt Newhall, Computer Science, 3rd Year

Hey guys! I’m Matt, I’m from Birmingham and I’m a third year Computer Science student at Mary’s. First off, congratulations to all of you for doing so well in your exams and getting into the best college in Durham!

It may feel daunting at first, but at its heart Mary’s is a warm, welcoming community that anyone will feel right at home in. A lot of students – myself included – usually suffer from homesickness pretty quickly after arriving (and that’s totally normal!) but you will quickly develop close bonds with so many other people across Durham that you won’t want to leave come the end of term. Pretty much everyone here is very vocal about how much they love Mary’s and I am definitely not an exception!

This is definitely going to be an unprecedented term/year thanks to bloody ‘rona, but Joe and the rest of college have been hard at work to make sure Mary’s still stays a safe environment for everyone to be in. Hopefully, provided that some clubs can still go on as normal, Mary’s and Durham in general have a wide range of things to get involved in! Over the last two years I’ve done a range of things such as Ultimate Frisbee, Badminton, Mary’s Theatre, climbing Kilimanjaro with DUCK, ball committees, music and tech; and there’s so much more that you can get involved with!

My advice would be to remember that Freshers’ Week doesn’t have to define your university experience! Whilst I would hugely recommend getting involved with whatever you might find interesting, you may not meet your closest friends & activities that you enjoy the most straight away but that’s totally fine. It took me a few months to find the societies & parts of Marys that I could really engage with, and now I can’t get enough of this bloody college!

I really hope you enjoy your Freshers’ Week and I realllllllly encourage you all to get stuck in with as much as you possibly can! If you do have any questions about things like Mary’s music, tech or literally anything else feel free to ask me on Facebook or email me at See you in September!

Ronit Grewal, Law, 2nd Year

Hi everyone, my full name is Ronit Jason Grewal but most people in Durham call me Ronnie! I was born and raised in Hong Kong and I am of Indian-Chinese descent. I am your typical Hong Kong international school kid – I was raised around a mixture of cultures and as such, I am quite ethnically confused. I will be starting my second year of law school but I’m probably the same age as most of you freshers since I’m quite young for my year group. However, even though we may be the same age, I still reserve my right to call you a “silly fresh” if need be.

Getting involved in university life is extremely important to me. I love sports – I used to be an avid rugby 7s player, but nowadays, I enjoy going to the gym more as I hope to compete in a bodybuilding competition in a few years. You can ask me random questions about rugby 7s or bodybuilders like Arnold or Ronnie Coleman and I probably won’t stop talking. I also love cycling, golf and hip-hop music. In my first year, I played for the Mary’s rugby team, the DU touch rugby team and I also took part in the Revival Fashion Show. This year, I am thinking of joining the DU powerlifting team, and I hope to be chosen as the next gym representative for the college gym. Other than sporty, I would describe myself as quite laidback – I like to joke around, party, socialise and have fun.

I understand that adjusting to university can be an extremely stressful time. I was extremely nervous before coming to Durham, but just remind yourself that everyone is in the same boat as you. Everyone is worried about meeting new people, about what others will think of them, about whether they will fit in, so on and so forth… Keeping this in mind, it should be easier for you to be confident! It’s easy to crawl into a shell but I strongly encourage you to do your best to get to everyone in college. Don’t settle into a group of people too soon, instead, try to get to know as many people as possible! Also, please remember that the Frep team is here for you if you are feeling homesick. Feeling homesick is perfectly normal – words cannot describe how much I missed home, but remember that you have a support system. It is our job to make you feel welcomed in college so don’t be afraid to reach out – we voluntarily signed up to show you a good time! Lastly, whilst everyone knows that I really love to have fun, my final tip is to remember to drink safely and in moderation because you don’t want to embarrass yourself too much (like I did in Freshers’ Week). I look forward to meeting everyone!

Akash Gopal, Computer Science, 3rd Year

Hey guys, I’m Akash and I’m a third year studying Computer Science from God’s own County Yorkshire. First off, a huge congratulations to all of you for doing so well in the exams you didn’t take and for getting into the best college in Durham.

Last year I was captain of Mary’s Cricket during our undefeated season, winning all of the zero games we played. I was first choice bench warmer for Mary’s Rugby, a keen member of the prestigious Darts D team and the liability of the Hockey Club.

I have had many incredible memories during my time at Mary’s with one of my favourite moments being the Hockey clubs ‘Take Me Out’ tied social. For this social we were required to create a short video presenting ourselves to the girls of the club and in the immortal words of Paddy McGuinness “no likey, no lighty”. If we still had lights on after the challenges were over, we were then tied to the unfortunate soul who took pity on us. It was a standout moment being the only time I have managed to impressive anyone with my substandard chat.

The most important piece of advice I could offer would be to join as many Mary’s sports as you can, even if you have never played before. With all sports at Mary’s you can either be a playing or a social member. The latter being a fantastic way to get to know people without having to play the sport. These clubs at Mary’s help you integrate with older years and generally improve your university experience providing you with memories both on and off the pitch.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at I look forward to meeting you all soon even if it might be from 2 meters away.

Will Galunic, Philosophy & Psychology, 2nd Year

Helllo Marians !

My name is Will and I’m a second year Philosophy and Psychology student. I live in France, sound like a Canadian, and am actually Croatian. Weird mix but now you know!


I’m a huge hip hop fan so you’ll rarely see me without headphones during term time. I’m always looking for new tunes and will speak about music with just about anyone!

Most of my life at Durham is sports, so if you plan on trying out / playing I’m always around to give advice. My main sports are Olympic Weightlifting and Tennis, but I also play rugby for college and love running when I have the time! I also am the college ski trip rep so any information about that you can get from me!

A bio can only do so much, so I’ll leave it here! Looking forward to meeting you all properly very soon!

Harriet Clark, History, 3rd year

Hey guys! I’m Harriet, a third year student studying History, and this is my second year frepping. First and foremost, congratulations (!!) on getting into Durham, and most importantly, Mary’s! There are too many amazing things to say about Mary’s for this short intro, but you’ll soon come to know and love Durham’s friendliest college!

So far, my two years in Durham have been the dream!! I’ve met best friends for life and Mary’s has provided me with so many amazing opportunities and experiences – what I’d give to be in your shoes again! Since being at Mary’s, I’ve tried to be involved in college life as much as possible, getting stuck in with loads of the sports and societies that college has to offer! I’m involved in Mary’s Dance (as publicity officer this year), ball committees, charity fashion shows, St Mary’s College Darts Club (for which I will be the E team co-captain this year…that’s right, there’s an E team) and loads of fun drama stuff both in and outside of college! I’m also part of St Mary’s College Netball Club, where I’ve played for the D team (big up the D’s !!) for the past two years and was co-social secretary for the club last year.

Basically, there’s a huge variety of sports and societies to be involved with, so make sure to get stuck in!! That way your time in Durham will be jam-packed with super fun moments and experiences, and the best place to start is getting involved as much as possible in Freshers’ Week, to really engage with the uni experience from the beginning! It’s an amazing way to meet new people, see all that college has to offer and get to know your new home! Whilst this can be pretty daunting, just remember that everyone is in the same boat and it’s ok to feel overwhelmed sometimes, it’s totally normal! You meet so many new faces, some who may become your bestest mates, so just immerse yourself in it and take every opportunity head on!! Most of all, enjoy it – I wish I could do it all again! If you have any qs, don’t hesitate to contact me – my email is xx

Odi Oladuji, PPE, 3rd Year

Yo, my name is Odi and I read PPE. Last year I was part of SMCRFC, SMC DUCK, FTHTC and used to be the Ethnic Minorities Representative. It was sick to play for Mary’s rugby for the past two years – reaching the semi-finals in first year was definitely top five uni moments. Gonna fill the rest of the bio with advice:

  1. Make friends with the college staff, you never know it will come in handy. Being nice with the dinner ladies definitely gets you bigger portions and they’re jokes people anyway.
  2. You’ll quickly learn Music Room 2 is the best music room, but the key for MR1 works with MR2 and vice versa.
  3. Washing in John’s is free so make friends with someone at John’s to cut costs.
  4. Don’t make judgements about people too quickly, everyone is weird in Fresher’s week. Also make an active effort to try and go outside your comfort – everyone feels awkward at first, good to have someone take lead.
  5. Half the stuff you think you need to bring to uni, you really really don’t. Makes it easier to move out which you will have to do over Easter and at the end of the year. is my email, holla at me if you need something

Emily Arnott, Natural Sciences, 2nd Year

Hi, I’m Emily, a second year Natural Sciences student (Biology and Physics) and I am so excited to be part of the Frep team this year! In my first year I competed with Durham Instep Dance and the Dancesport society (ballroom and latin) as well as taking part in the fantastic Mary’s dance! I made so many amazing friendships and memories through this and it really shaped my uni experience. Freshers’ Week will be so full of activities that by the end of the week you will probably look back and wonder how on earth you managed to fit it all in! I loved how the week catered for everyone, with drinking and non-drinking activities and things going on all the time. The busyness will mean you will meet so many people, including friends, your college family and a mentor, so by the end of the week you will already have developed a large support network that will hopefully make university life seem less daunting.

My top tip – get involved! The greater involvement you have in both Freshers’ Week and beyond will result in you meeting more people and having a better time overall! Try to go to taster sessions for lots of different activities so you get a feel for different societies without making any commitment!

Charlie Harris, English Lit, 2nd Year

Hi, my name is Charlie and I am second year student studying English Literature. Outside of Freshers’ Week you’ll most likely find me turning out for one of St. Mary’s many sports teams or busy struggling up the city’s seemingly endless hills in my running gear. As an English student I’m also keen on creative writing and so whether you’re into short stories or journalism you’ll certainly find an audience here in Durham.

I’ve had the most amazing first year here in Mary’s. From enjoying the university’s first-class facilities and the college’s endless balls and formals, to exploring the city’s nightlife and meeting new people it’s a miracle I managed to do any work! This is in part due to the great start I had during Freshers’ Week. I was amazed at the wide variety of opportunities afforded to incoming students no matter their personal interests. There really is something for everyone and I would urge you to try as much as you can before academic deadlines begin.

If I had one piece of advice for anyone new coming into college it would be to try and talk to as many different people as you possibly can. Initially I was quite daunted to go around knocking on strangers’ doors but it’s the best way to get to know your fellow freshers. I can personally recommend playing corridor cricket into the early hours of the morning as a fantastic icebreaker! Regardless of what you want to achieve during Freshers’ Week try and make the most out of everything on offer. The week should be great fun and the Frep team are here to help you make the most of it – so don’t be afraid to approach us about anything!

Hannah Lydon, Physics, 2nd Year


My name is Hannah (She/her) and I wish you the very warmest of welcomes to St. Mary’s College!

I am going into my second year of studying physics and when I am not crying over equations in the Billy B I can usually be found busting some moves in either dance rehearsals or Klute – very classy I know.

My love for dance overtakes my love for almost anything else and during my first year I competed around the UK as part of Durham Instep and joined Mary’s Dance. Performing at fashion shows, competitions and other events has definitely been some of highlights of my university experience so far and going into this year I am now choregraphing for Instep and performing the role of treasurer for Mary’s Dance. If you are a dancer or simply just want to give it a go, I cannot encourage you enough. I am also a course representative for Physics and am taking on the role of publicity officer for Durham Physics society, so if you are into either physics or dance you will probably get sick of the sight of me!

So far at Durham I have grown a lot more confident in my independence and organising my priorities. I have pushed myself to be more sociable and have loved meeting so many kind and caring people throughout St. Mary’s and the University. Despite having taken a gap year to ‘grow up’, I have also tested and learned my limits when it comes to both work and play, so it is safe to say that I shall be practicing a lot more self-care this year as well as supporting and encouraging others to do the same!

My tips for Induction Week would be to really push yourself to talk to new people and to try out as many of the activities as you can- this such a good time to get to know people and find out what college life has to offer you. I also want you to trust yourself and your passions, if something piques your interest then give it a go! Even if you go by yourself there are so many people who you can find that share common interests and can become lifelong friends. I would definitely recommend taking some time to have a wander around Durham itself, it is a truly beautiful city and walking around is a great way to get to know your new home. Throughout this week I also want to remind you to keep yourself fuelled for all of the activities on offer and to also keep checking in with your well-being. Please remember that Durham University and St. Mary’s in particular are both lucky and excited to have you here!

Wizzy Gostick, Chemistry, 4th Year

Hey everyone, I’m Wiz (short for Isobel, so if you think Wiz is weird just call me that lol), a fourth year chemistry student and three-time frep, so I think that says all you need to know about how much I love Mary’s, you’ve made a great call by choosing to join us.

As much as we’re all here to get a degree, getting involved with different sports and societies is half of the fun of uni life, so I would definitely recommend giving some of those a try! I’ve loved being a part of the netball club throughout my time here, I was social sec in second year, club captain last year and old girls’ sec this year (some say I can’t let go) all the time playing for the D team, so if I’m not proof that it’s the taking part that counts, then I don’t know who is! I’ve also loved being part of ball committees, being on the WAM committee and of course the renowned women’s darts team; believe it or not I threw 180 in my first ever game for college…

Balls, formals, ski trips and Mary’s days have provided me with so many memories from my time here, and I have no doubt that you’ll get to experience those in full swing if corona decides to stop hating fun. However, by far some of my favourite memories have come from frepping for the past two years, so I can’t wait to be a member of the team organising such a great induction week for you all. Your time at Mary’s truly only goes up from there, so don’t worry if you’re not enjoying every second, I certainly didn’t all those many years ago. Remember, all of the freps have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly sides of induction week, so I have no doubt that at least one of us will be able to relate to however you may be feeling or what you are experiencing, no matter how niche.

My final piece of advice to you would be to take full advantage of the toastie bar while you’re still living in college, you really won’t appreciate it properly until you’re not there anymore! Can’t wait to meet you all, swing me an email at if you have any questions or even if you just fancy a chat!

Peter Pakozdy, Business & Management, 2nd Year

Hi! My name is Peter Pakozdy. I’m a second year Business and Management student and I’m extremely happy to be on your frep team this year!

I was originally born in Budapest, Hungary, and after living there for many years I moved out to India, where I stayed for a full decade. The high school which I graduated from in New Delhi was very international, so I really enjoy meeting students from all around the world and learning about new cultures. After having transitioned between different countries a couple of times, I personally understand some of the challenges, fears, and anxiety that can come along with the process. However, I also believe that when you come to a place like St Mary’s, you can rest assured that you’ll be settled in no time.

Even beyond the awesome members of the Frep team, everyone is really kind and has nothing but your best interest in mind. Knowing this, I think my top tip for Freshers’ Week would be to stay relaxed and let us answer any and all questions you have. The Frep team and I are here to help and guide you in any way we can, and also in large part to create a super exciting week so that you can have lots of fun while adjusting to college. Beyond Freshers’ Week, I would also really suggest going to the Freshers Fair and signing up for legitimately anything that piques your interest. Even if it’s a skill or activity you’ve never tried before, go ahead and sign up for the email list, you’ll have loads of time to explore and work out your schedule afterwards. Once again, I’m very excited to be on the Frep team this year and hope to see you all soon! Take care.

Esme Codrington, Geography, 2nd Year

Hi everyone! I am a second year student reading human geography. Between school and university, I had two years off studying. I found the long break daunting at first but Mary’s Freshers’ Week was packed full with so many events, that meeting people and settling into uni life became far easier.

During the first week, the university and college offered a variety of activities to get involved in and an amazing support system with lots of people to talk to. I loved getting back into sports during first year, such as hockey, netball and rowing. College sport is such a good way to refresh or start up a new hobby, as there is no pressure, it’s all very chilled and you can just have fun! The socials attached to the college sport societies, nights out and bar crawls, allow you to go into other colleges and meet students from across the university. These also helped me get to know Durham and navigate my way around the city. If you aren’t into sports, there are so many other options. For instance, I became a member of The Durham Union, where I’ve been able to listen to some great speakers and interesting debates. Starting university is an anxious time, but for me finding a balance between studying and free time really helped me find my feet. With time you will find a routine that suits you and life at university will fall into place.

Kat Jackson, French & Arabic, 4th Year

Hi everyone! I’m Kat (she/her), I’m a fourth year studying French and Arabic and I spent my Year Abroad last year in Paris and Amman. Firstly, a big big congrats on getting a place at Durham and welcome to Mary’s!!! Over my three years at uni, Mary’s has truly become a home away from home, no wonder we’re known as the friendliest college! There really is something for everyone here to get involved in from drama or sport to music or Environment Soc, and if you’ve got an idea for a new club or society, you have the chance to set one up through the JCR! And this is all without even mentioning the vast variety of societies that are available through the Durham SU too.

Some of the clubs at Mary’s that I like to get involved with are Hockey, Fem Soc, and the Mary’s Good Vibes Newsletter that was set up at the start of lockdown (we’re @marys_goodvibes on Instagram!). As well as this, next year I’m the Year Abroad Rep so will be helping Mary’s students with all things Year Abroad. My top tip for settling into uni life would be to take each day as it comes and to remember that Induction Week is not the be all or end all. The Freps and WAM Team will all be there to offer advice and help out if needs be and we can’t wait to meet you all! If you have any questions about things that I’ve mentioned, living in Teikyo in first year, or anything about Durham life in general, just drop me an email – no question is ever too big or too small!

Peter Firbank, History, 2nd Year

Hi! I’m Peter (he/him) and welcome to Mary’s! I am a second year history student and avid theatre-person. My first year as entirely flown by with the ferocity of a Japanese bullet train. Taking that metaphor into account the biggest and most important piece of advice I can offer all you new Marians is this: make the most of this year. Join every society that takes your fancy, eat the food you were never allowed to at home, speak to everyone you can find, stay awake until the early hours of the morning and learn everything you can from your subject, your friends and this beautiful city. This might well seem like a daunting prospect, especially with a pandemic raging around us. But I guarantee if you put the effort in you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how much you can get out of your first year here at Mary’s. By some work of mystical Pratchett magic I managed to come out of last year as President of Ooook! Productions, one of Durham Student Theatre’s many many theatre companies. If you have any questions about the huge world of theatre here at Durham, the Mary’s debating society or Durham Quakers feel welcome to get in touch! Making the most of your first year starts with asking lots and lots of questions and with any luck us Freps will be able to answer as many of them as possible, especially about acronyms. There are so many acronyms. So so many.

Alicia Bickerstaff, History & Sociology, 2nd Year

My name is Alicia (pronouns She/Her) and I’m a second year studying History and Sociology through Combined Honours in Social sciences. I’m this year’s LGBT+ rep for St Mary’s so if you want any advice on LGBT+ life at college then please come and talk to me, because I know how isolating being LGBT+ can sometimes feel. I have also been involved in a lot of the creative side of college, especially publicity so if you’re interested in photography or graphic design feel free to come and have a chat with me about it. Also, as creative director for this year’s Revival I would love to have as many first years involved as possible. My best advice for adjusting to university life is don’t be afraid to ask questions, because we have all felt lost and confused at some point. Freshers’ Week can get pretty exhausting so don’t be afraid to take some down time. Starting university is an overwhelming experience for everyone and we are all here to try and make the transition as smooth as possible so don’t be afraid to come and say hi.

Serena Conn, Physics, 4th Year

Well hello freshers! Normally here I would say congrats for aceing those exams and getting into Durham, but obviously this year has been rather different (not sure if you’ve heard but there’s been a global pandemic going on…). However, I am still going to congratulate you all for getting through this ridiculously tough time. I can’t imagine how you’ve all been feeling with the uncertainty of everything, but I am already very proud of you, and I hope you’re still super excited to start Uni here at Durham and at Mary’s.

My name is Serena, pronouns she/her, and I’m a fourth year studying Physics (no I did not do a panic masters, I just love Durham too much to leave after three years). I was born in Ohio, USA, but have lived around London (big up Bucks) for most of my life.

Throughout my time at Mary’s, I have basically got involved in everything and anything there is to do. I have danced with Mary’s Dance and the University to crowds as large as 1000 people, competed for the University at national dance competitions, played in the best Netball C Team on campus (having won a grand total of zero matches), helped with welfare campaigns and organising Marys Day, thrown a bullseye at my first ever match for the women’s darts team, and been a dog in a panto. I’ve achieved things I never thought I would, had some life-changing experiences and made friends across all years and colleges. For me, the best part of Durham and St Mary’s is the amount you can get involved with – so get in there and go for it!

There are a ridiculous number of memories over my time here for me to pick one favourite, but the performances I’ve had the opportunity to do have been insane. Even ripping my trousers on stage wasn’t enough to stop me from carrying on! There are so many ways you can get involved with performing here at Durham, both at a college or university level, so if you’re interested come find me – I don’t really shut up about it!

My advice to you all is to ‘get comfortable and creative’ when you arrive here. The circumstances are not perfect (Covid-19 has certainly proven it is here to stay), so your comfort and safety is the most important thing. It’s so okay to set boundaries to the people around you about what you feel comfortable doing and not doing, so just have those conversations and people will understand! Then, it’s time to get creative – find societies online, join in on virtual events and socials, and meet people at a distance. Just get innovative with how you can make your experience exciting and your own. Be safe and understanding, then get involved in whatever ways you can!

So, enjoy your Induction week! I can honestly say I’ve never felt more comfortable settling into a new place just because everyone, especially at Mary’s, is so lovely and welcoming. That for me has been the most special part of Durham, so I hope us Freps can not only give you a fab Induction Week, but also help you feel settled and happy here.

Any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to a Frep or member of staff. Wack me an email at if you have any questions before we get started.

Lots of love, and I cannot wait to meet you all! Serena

Dariimaa Sukhbaatar, Liberal Arts, 2nd Year

Hi everyone! First of all, congratulations on getting into Durham, I know it must have been especially hard this year, but you made it! Welcome to Durham University and one of the best colleges here, Mary’s! I’m Dariimaa, a 2nd year Liberal Arts student studying English, Spanish and Business. I’m from Mongolia (quite an uncommon place to be from) but I live in Geneva, Switzerland.

Though my first year was cut short, I had the best time and was involved in a multiple of things, such as ball committees, sports, and charity events. At Mary’s I was part of two great teams, the basketball and volleyball team, I got to meet awesome Mary’s people and play the sports with no pressure of being amazing at them. On a university level, I was on the executive team for the International Students Association (I.S.A) which I will continue to do in the upcoming year. The sports and the societies that I have been involved in were definitely one of the highlights of my year, I got to meet so many new people and enjoyed many days attending memorable events, one of my favourites was the Lunar New Year event at the Great Hall organised by I.S.A (super proud!). As well as these, attending our college’s balls and formals were without a doubt some of my best experiences (we put a lot of effort into our ball decs, really worth it), these are a special luxury that we get to enjoy here. Getting involved in societies and the college will make your uni experience a hundred times better, so don’t be afraid to get involved and have fun.

I know that coming to university and to a completely new place by yourself is quite nerve-racking, especially if it’s a place you know nothing about. Though it may take time to adjust here, eventually this place will feel like another home and you will have an amazing couple of years here. Hence, a tip that I would give to you guys for adjusting to the university and Mary’s life would be to not be afraid to approach people first. This is a new slate for you guys, don’t be afraid to make new friends, right now all of you are looking to find awesome people to become friends with, so be the one to take the first step. With that being said, not every person you will meet during induction week will be the ones you fit in with, do not think that just because you haven’t found “your” people during this week you won’t find any here, sometimes it takes time, so just relax and enjoy your time. There are plenty of opportunities to do what you love and make some friends, so don’t be let any nerves or fear of trying something new stop you.

The Induction Week is a week filled with so many activities that will help you settle in and start the beginning of the next chapter of your life, so let’s make this week as enjoyable as possible. To get the best out of the experience, I recommend you all to participate in the fun activities that we have prepared for you, join them, and be active in your involvement. Freshers’ Week only happens once, so have as much fun as you possibly can. Mary’s and all its amazing freps will try our best to make you feel welcome and comfortable here, though this year will be a “unique” one, we will make sure that you enjoy the induction period.

Megan Titterington, Ancient History, 3rd Year

Hey Freshers! I’m Megan Titterington (pronouns she/her), a third year student studying Ancient History (basically the Greeks and the Romans). Congratulations everyone! You have all worked so hard and deserve to be here and I cannot wait for you all to start your time at Mary’s!

My time at Mary’s has flown by so quickly and I have loved every single second of it. Being a very keen bean, I have made sure that I took advantage of every opportunity that has come my way. I have devoted my time to two particular societies, which are Mary’s Rowing and Social Committee. Mary’s rowing has given me a greater belief in myself and I am more determined as a person due to all the crazy challenges it has allowed me to partake in. I have competed in races and regattas across the country and pushed myself in several charity challenges, which even led to the confidence to take part in a 48 hour triathlon. College sport in general is a massive highlight from my time in college and I 100% recommend everyone to get involved, even if you are not sporty! As much as everyone jokes that all I do is row, I still have a massive place in my heart for the Social Committee. Over the years I have quite possibly spent more time making decorations, drumming up publicity and printing name plates than on my own degree! This year I am immensely proud to say that I am one of your Social Chairs and am therefore in charge of running events in college and I cannot wait to introduce you to the fun of formal dinners as well as the wonder of our balls! St Mary’s College provides so much more than just a home, it provides a community and an experience not like any other that offers so many opportunities! I have bopped to the top in FHTC’s production of High School Musical, competed in DU’s Festival of Sport for Mary’s Rounders (despite having no skill) and have also been a dedicated bar staff member since my first year.

My advice for freshers is that you should never be afraid to try something new as you will never know what you will end up enjoying! Don’t be afraid to join a sports team you have never tried or a society that you had never previously considered, everyone is always welcome.

Lastly, I want to wish you the best time at Mary’s in your induction week and I cannot wait to welcome you when you arrive later this year!

Helena Bland, History, 2nd Year

Hi everyone! I’m Helena, a second year History student from San Francisco, California. First of all (I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot, but I think it is definitely worth saying again), congratulations! And welcome to Mary’s, Durham’s best college (I’m not biased at all)! You’ve got so many incredible experiences ahead of you and I hope you will all come away loving Mary’s as much as I do.

Since being at Mary’s I’ve been involved in ball committees (there’s nothing quite like hanging out in the basement, making decs, and eating copious amounts of biscuits), Mary’s Day Committee, Mary’s Debating Society, and Mary’s rowing. I’ve loved rowing for Mary’s so much that I’m one of the Novice Captains this year so I will be helping to train all you new rowers out there! I’m also the Assistant JCR Chair this year so I look forward to seeing you all at JCR meetings and helping to answer any of your questions about what the JCR is, how it works, and how to get involved.

Among my top tips for adjusting to Mary’s and uni life would be to throw yourself into all the societies that Mary’s and Durham has to offer. It really is the best way to meet new people, get involved, and combat any feelings of homesickness. Also, Durham is COLD, especially for me coming from California! I would highly recommend having a good, warm coat with a hood. Believe me, you will thank me when you are walking down to a 9am lecture in sideways rain. Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things and reach out for help. Everyone adjusts differently so be kind to yourself and everyone around you. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at I can’t wait to meet you all soon!


Yujin Choi, Maths, 2nd Year

Hey everyone, my name is Yujin and I’m a second year studying Maths. First of all, huge congrats for getting into Durham and welcome to Mary’s! Induction Week has been one of my craziest experiences in Durham and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

My first year at Mary’s has been amazing and went by so quickly (not only ‘cause it was two terms long). I’ve been a part of Mary’s Badminton, Mary’s Day Committee, and I also had a chance to serve as a Treasurer of Mary’s International Committee and organise 19/20 international week. I also got involved in uni-wide societies such as DU Surf Club, DU Art Society (which I’m president of this year so heads up artists!) and Women in STEM, and this year I’ll be leading a project as a part of DUSVO (Durham Student Volunteering and Outreach). However, my favourite participation during first year would be organising Mary’s Masquerade Ball as Head of Decs. Working with General Committee members for almost two months, I’ve had so much fun and met such great people.

Not only big events like Balls and formals, but having a drunk race across Mary’s courtyard, meeting college parents or playing table hockey in Williamson JCR also added to my unforgettable memories at Mary’s. My best advice for you all is to get involved in as much as activities that are out there – societies, sports, socials and many more. The opportunities provided both at college and uni level are so diverse and you never know what you’ll enjoy, so do explore and try out new things! Also get your expectations high on college brunch and the toastie bar; they will soon become things that you live for. Look forward to meeting you all and enjoy!