Find out what life is really like at Durham University

DepartmentsStudent experienceUndergraduate

A day in the life of a first-year History student

I am a member of the College of St Hild and St Bede – I think my favourite thing about Hild Bede is the close sense of community. Being neither a member of the Bailey nor the Hill colleges, it is easy to forget Hild Bede, but that just means that we are much more of a close-knit college. I love the people I’ve met – some of my best times in Durham have been a glass of wine, chat and film night in someone’s room! The college film society is really good, some films draw enormous crowds from all the colleges from across the University! Aside from that, the formals are not to be missed; with themes and delicious food, having all your friends dressed up for a formal is definitely one of the best bits of college life!

My typical day

For every day of the week, I have my alarm set for 7:30 am, so that I can be at breakfast by 8 – I’ve always got to be there for the Hild Bede cooked breakfast! The first thing I do when I’m up is to check my timetable for the day, how many lectures and seminars I have. Sometimes, I start studying in my bedroom, but my favourite study spots are in the Leazes Road Library in the Hild Bede grounds, and the Palace Green Library – this one is right next to the History department, so it’s only a short walk to my seminars! I have 5 lectures a week, and between 2-4 seminars a week, so my time is usually filled up doing reading and writing essays. A humanities subject doesn’t have many contact hours, but I always have lots of reading to do to prepare for my seminars!

Most of my weekdays are about the same in terms of workload, but Monday is my busiest day, which is quite nice as I get it out of the way early! However, being a humanities student means I have lots of time away from lectures and seminars to do some reading and essay preparation. Interestingly, my weekends are my busiest time, as I try to get all my reading done for the upcoming week – but I do have the Hild Bede brunch to keep me going! The days where I only have one or two contact hours means I often will be working outside of those times, but I always find time to relax and unwind in the evenings with my friends.


Most of the time I socialise at mealtimes and in the evenings – my friends and I will all go to meals together at college, and it’s really nice to catch up with everyone and see how their day has been. In the evenings, after everyone has finished work, we may have wine and chat nights, often with a film too! Yesterday, we revisited an old treasure and began a Wallace and Gromit marathon! Apart from wine and film evenings, and if it isn’t freezing outside, I’m always up for a night out in one of Durham’s clubs – the music in Klute never fails to please, and a night out would not be complete without a Ham and Pineapple pizza from Pizza King on the walk back to Hild Bede!

I really love skiing and have competitively been ski racing since I was eleven, so one of the perfect ways to take a break from the working week is the weekly training sessions – the dry ski slope is in Sunderland about 20 minutes away from the University, which is great. Aside from sport, I love writing, and have started writing articles for The Bubble, Durham’s student magazine; hopefully it won’t be long before I can get involved with the Palatinate, the student newspaper. I’m also a really big classic film fan, and when there’s nothing on at the Bede Film society, I have been trying to force my friends to watch some of my favourite films and we’ve all been introducing each other to our own favourite TV shows!

My favourite thing to do to unwind is to catch up with my favourite TV shows (currently trying to restrain myself from watching every episode of The Crown in one day), and to hang out with my friends – sometimes if people are still at college, we’ll have a tea and chat break in someone’s room before everyone has to head back to their lectures or to the library. Calling my friends and family from home also always puts me in a good mood, especially if I’ve spent the whole day working.

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Maximus McCabe-Abel

Hi, I'm Max a first-year History student from the College of St Hild and St Bede. I'm a member of the university ski club which has let me revisit a sport that I love, and I have started writing for The Bubble, Durham’s student paper.
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