Find out what life is really like at Durham University

SocietiesStudent experience

Celebrating the success of our Virtual Freshers’ Fair 2020

It is truly incredible what students continue to achieve. During Freshers Week our societies took the first iconic step for this year in overcoming the challenge of Covid-19, by uploading engaging content and joining together to spend two whole days dedicated to welcoming prospective members and preparing for the year ahead. Freshers’ is exciting for students from all year groups, as it’s our chance to welcome each other and gives many of us that “new resolutions” buzz to kick off the upcoming academic year. 

Whichever society you may have been interested in, from Career Prep to Hummus Loving, I hope you’ve had time to consider the full range of our student communities and are planning to attend some of the exciting events coming up. At the current time this is all set to occur online, but let WiFi be your magic portal, allowing you to dive right into the heart of Durham’s weird or wonderful extracurricular.

Virtual Freshers’ Fair 2020

The two-day Virtual Freshers’ Fair allowed our students to experience this: on the first day, our societies gained 10,290 sign-ups, followed by a further 9,383 on the Thursday. We joined up with Experience Durham and the University’s own CIS team to deliver Freshers Fair online, so thank you to all those staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make this a success. Despite a very different setting, there was a familiar enthusiasm and excitement in the air, and I hope you managed to have meaningful conversations via the video calls.  

Give it a go!

Now that you’ve put your name down, groups will be able to sending you emails and inviting you to their first events. The onus is now on you, to take the plunge and try it out. Those that get the most out of Durham SU, are those that take some risks during these first few weeks and put themselves in new settings, dipping their toes into a range of what we have to offer. This is currently physically easier than ever before, as you can hop into meetings at the click of a button. I wish it had been easier for me to participate in first year – in my first couple of weeks I cycled in the wrong direction for half an hour up Gilesgate hill, to find an empty church on an industrial estate, when I had entered the wrong name into google maps… I eventually arrived at my Film Society taster session, drenched in sweat just as it ended: what I’m trying to say is, there are many embarrassing scenarios which online learning avoids.  

Keep trying new things

As Opportunities Officer for Durham SU, I always say ‘It’s never too late to get involved’, but the sooner you do, the more skills you can learn and the stronger the relationships you form. If you didn’t get to sign up to a society you wanted to, they’re all listed on the SU website and you can still visit the Online Freshers’ Fair for a few more weeks (even though it’s no longer live). Every year during my degree I ended up joining new societies and every year discovered new things about myself in the process. When I was a first year I wanted to do everything, and I joined two college sports, two university sports, photography, veg soc, film soc, a politics club and an environment group. I eventually dropped down to only continue with one of these, but at least for this first term, I really do believe you have to be in it to win it – it’s all about giving things a go and you don’t know until you try. Embrace the cliché – the most cringeworthy thing is when you cringe so hard you forget to relax. Embrace that tasty initial awkwardness and dive right into the most exhilarating part of university life: meeting new people! 

Find out more

Find out more about Durham Students’ Union

Visit the Online Freshers’ Fair

See what events and activities are happening online at

Anna Marshall

I'm your Opportunities Officer at Durham Students' Union. I studied History at Grey College and
Sign up to our Mailing List