Find out what life is really like at Durham University

InternationalStudent experienceUndergraduate

A day in my life: Over 2000km away from home!


Morning workout

It’s 7 am and my first warning alarm has gone off by now. I say warning alarm because I usually set about 3 to make sure I actually get out of bed. By 7:15 am I am up and groggily make my way to the bathroom while trying not to wake up my other flatmates. Once dressed up in sports leggings and a dri-fit top, I make my way to my first location of the day, the gym at Freeman’s Quay. I use the walk to the gym (everything in Durham is in walking distance!) to clear my head a bit before the day starts and to take advantage of how peaceful and quiet town is in the morning. Once I arrive at the gym, I do my full cardio routine for the day. This is shorter today and takes about 35 minutes as I need to be home and be ready to prep for my lectures.

On my way home, I open up FaceTime and call my mother. Luckily for me, there’s no time difference between the UK and my home country, Nigeria until summer time ends. This means my mum is probably awake and able to talk. On the phone with my mum, I chat about my plans for the day as well as check in on hers and how close relatives are doing. By the end of the conversation, any feelings of homesickness I might have had when I woke up are completely gone as in that 15 min walk back from the gym, my mum has already filled me in on so much that I feel like I’m home.


I head to my flat and I am greeted by the smell of toast and warmth as my flatmates are up and about sorting out their breakfast. I head to the shower, to get ready for the day ahead.  By now it’s about 9:30 am and I start preparing my breakfast of wholemeal toast sunny side up while waving my flatmates off as they go on to their lectures.

Once settled down to eat, I take advantage of my ‘no schoolwork while eating’ rule and start to scroll through my Instagram feed and check my insights, before checking any updates on my website, all on my mobile phone. With photography and blogging as a hobby, I always have to stay on top of how my posts are received by my audience and it gives me a chance to have a break even on a school day.

Preparing for lectures

Finally done eating, and I fix myself a cup of tea before heading down to the Bill Bryson Library to get some space and time to view my lectures for the day. As I am aware of my learning style, I always put in a lot of effort to ensure I view the lecture notes before the lecture so I have a background understanding of the topic. I view the notes, and as it is Corporate Financial reporting, which is a 2nd year Accounting & Finance module that follows up from my 1st year Introduction to Financial Accounting Module, I proceed to make notes on the lecture slides. I leave gaps in my notes just in case I need to scribble anything in the lecture. I finish by about 11 am and use the remaining time to look at my other lecture later that day.

Once it’s 12:30, I pack up and head over to the Calman Learning Centre where my lecture is. I meet up with a friend on my course and sit with her during the lecture.  It’s 2:55 pm and my lecture is over. I don’t rejoice just yet as I have Introduction to taxation immediately after. I use the extra 5 minutes before 3 pm to rush over to the Physics building for my Taxation lecture. There I meet up with another friend who also takes Tax as an optional module.

Finally, it’s 4 pm and I am done with lectures, I head out with my friend as we discuss any life updates before going our separate ways home. Putting my bag down at home, I realise I am out of veggies so I head over to the Tesco in Market Square with my flatmates, like I said, everything in Durham is just a walk away!

Careers session

I fix a quick lamb and veggie wrap as a late lunch before remembering I have a career information event organised by the Careers and Enterprise Centre with Deloitte. I finish off my lunch and check my emails to respond to any queries about the volunteering project I lead before getting ready to head down to the venue. Luckily, my flatmates signed up as well so we walk down together.

The event runs till about 8:40 pm so by the time we get home, we are beyond tired! Kicking off my shoes and falling onto the couch, my flatmates and I begin our nightly chat sessions about random things, life, and university. These chats are always so interesting as we all came from different parts of the world with me from Nigeria, and the other two from Dubai and France. The chat and laughter end earlier than usual as we are all tired so we say goodnight and each get ready for bed. Once in bed, I read my Bible and then call my brother in Berlin, then my mum just to say goodnight and also get to speak to my dad who is back from work by then. Finally done, I turn off my lights, plug in my phone, set my batch of alarms for the next day, then close my eyes and dream of home!

Watch me in the new undergraduate recruitment film below along with many other students – we had great fun filming this! #DUinspire

To find out more about studying at Durham University order our prospectus here 


Seun Onalaja

Hi! My name is Seun Onalaja and I am a third-year Accounting & Finance student from Stephenson College. I am from Lagos, Nigera originally. I am currently on my placement year working with L'Oreal in London. I am a keen photographer and ran @thedurhamstudent Instagram account las year!

Sign up to our Mailing List