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A letter to my sixth-form self

Dear Sunita

So, you’ve just been given an offer from Durham University – I’m so proud of you!

I remember how much thought you put into your personal statement, and how hard you worked to get those predicted grades and glowing references from your schoolteachers. Maybe you hadn’t heard of Durham before you started researching universities, but when you saw it at the top of so many league tables, a seed was planted which you couldn’t get out of your head. You flipped through a prospectus which showed you a Castle that you could someday call your own college. I can tell you that soon enough you will, and although you’ll get used to eating your bowl of cereal in the grand hall of a World Heritage building, you’ll occasionally catch yourself as you walk through the courtyard and remind yourself how crazy that is.

The Castle that became my college

You’ve already gone online to research every detail of Durham’s English Literature course, and you’re amazed to see modules like ‘Myth and Epic of the North’. I can tell you that you won’t be able to resist taking this, and you end up enjoying it so much that you’ll go on to learn Old English in your second year. I know you’re glad to see that the first year of the course spends a lot of time grounding you in the basics because you’re still nervous that everyone else will be much smarter and better at English than you are. You have nothing to worry about – you’re going to have some of the most knowledgeable, but also most approachable lecturers and tutors over the next three years, who are going to introduce you to everything from Beowulf to contemporary South Asian writing. The concept of a dissertation (12000 words!) seems incomprehensible to you now, but I can tell you that you’ll not only get it done but will end up finding a very cool topic – no spoilers though!

Handing in my dissertation

You’re going to learn so much more than your degree, too. You’ll meet some awesome people from all over the country and the world, and throw yourself into so many different activities and societies. I can tell you that you end up organising the decorations for the marquee of Durham’s biggest summer ball, and you’ll run a society for two years where you’ll find some of your closest friends. You’re going to get married (don’t panic, it’s just a ‘college’ marriage, so you can adopt college children later on), share a house, cook for yourself, manage your own money, and all sorts of things that seem pretty beyond you right now. It’s not all sunshine and roses – you definitely take on too many extra-curriculars in the second year, and you’re going to have your fair share of stress, friendship troubles, and insecurity over the course of your degree. But with the help of some amazing people, you’re going to pick yourself back up each time, and have some of the most unforgettable experiences of your life.

Celebrating Diwali with my housemates

As your future self, I know how much you’re going to love Durham. But you don’t know that yet, so don’t rely on me, and make sure you do all your research. Durham (and university in general) isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. So talk to anyone you can, ask all your questions, get those niggling worries out of your head, and don’t listen to myths or rumours without getting the facts from someone who knows. Your mum will keep worrying that it’s too far away, but it’s only because she’ll miss you when you go – only you can decide whether the move is right for you.

You’ve got so much to look forward to before this adventure begins. I’ll catch up with you when you get here!

Read more of my blogs here and follow my fellow students on Instagram and YouTube.

Download your fully interactive prospectus here.

Take a look at all the courses on offer at Durham here.

Sunita Ramani

Hi, I’m Sunita – a third-year English Literature student at Castle. I thrive off taking on a dangerous number of extra-curricular activities, so when I’m not creating decorations for our termly college balls, you might find me in my food element as President of the Vegetarian and Vegan Society, mentoring secondary school students across the North East, or dishing out tea and biscuits as a Welfare Officer (to name only a few!)
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