Find out what life is really like at Durham University

Student experienceUndergraduate

Cue the Celebrations, Cut the Cost

exam celebrations Durham

I’ve known students to put more time into planning their celebrations after, rather than studying for, their exams. Indeed, it may be just this sort of optimism which helps us: with the end in sight, we can just about manage to conquer the contagious communal fear of an exam hall, sit through the standardised opening spiel time after time without internally imploding, and ignore the pleas from our exhausted hands to stop writing. Knowing when our exam season will end allows us to see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

However, that light has a terrible tendency to blind us to common sense. I warn you in advance: assume that all reason will remain in the exam hall with your completed (or, at least, attempted) answer booklets. Presuming that, being the good egg that you are, you do not want to contribute to environmental destruction, risk arrest, or be a general aggravation to the world at large, it’s best that you plan to celebrate with a conscience.

Hence, I present you with a few modest proposals.

1: Forgetti the Confetti

Hear me out. I’m not asking you to replace partying with (gentle) projectiles, but merely to replace them in the interest of efficiency. Quench that unbearable primal desire to throw things about by, instead…

Reaching for the bread, heading to Van Mildert’s lake or finding a pretty spot along the river, and going to feed the ducks!

  1. If you’re throwing plastic-based confetti, you really might as well save the cash and throw about those 5p bags stashed in your kitchen drawer. As well as being cheaper, it’s also more time-efficient: unless they’re particularly tall, you’ll manage to cover your friend with just a bag or two! If, on the other hand, you’ve already realised that randomly throwing plastic about hasn’t been acceptable since at least 2015 (kudos) and instead aim to opt for biodegradable confetti, then I ask you to consider instead.
  2. Deliberately defying capitalism. Even if you do manage to track down biodegradable confetti (a long shot, considering you’re competing against approximately 14,000 fellow students in a city centre with two card shops), you’re still investing your hard-earned – okay, student loan – money into a company which actively invents fantasy events so that you’ll be morally obliged to spend more money with them. Break their business model. Free our society from the chains of consumerist holidays… before we’re all doomed to celebrate Half-A-Year-Until-Halloween Day with the purchase of £3.50 greeting cards.
  3. Only superhumans – or those who prove capable of sharing with housemates without the drawing up of battle lines – actually finish a loaf of bread before it either desiccates or grows greenery. You’ll be reducing waste, and more importantly reducing the amount of times you’ll have to take your bin out.
  4. In shredding slices of bread, you can therapeutically project the suppressed fury directed at your exam paper. (We’ll call it self-care, rather than an anger-management issue.)
  5. If it’s the Insta shot you’re after, then I can promise nothing more unique than a crumb-covered candid. Picture the scene: you and your friends, a picturesque lake, bits of bread in your hair…No?
    If you’re not ready to completely champion the revolution, flinging flower petals is a more traditionally photogenic option. Not only is this totally biodegradable, but it’s also devoid of any carbon footprint – and with all of the extra effort you’ve put in to collect them, you’ll get some serious brownie points from your bloom-buried best friend

The jury may be firmly out on how good bread is for ducks, I admit. But it’s definitely better than them ingesting the plastic confetti that will, inevitably, travel to the river and henceforth to the stomachs of the animal kingdom. And the money you’ll save can contribute directly to…

2: Preserve the Prosecco

There’s a particularly strange student phenomenon, which in recent years has escalated to pandemic proportions: when someone sees a friend leaving an exam hall, they mysteriously lose all control of their hands. Inevitably, they find that the champagne (okay, prosecco) which they’d so kindly brought for a congratulatory gift slips out of their grasp, and, pop…

(Yes, you may weep for the waste.)

At least, this is the only rational reason why so much drink ends up on clothing, the pavement, and horrified passers-by – considering that students would usually go to great lengths to procure, rather than to discard, alcohol. 

3: End with a bang, not in the banger

If there’s any good time to risk criminal charges during your university career, I’d politely suggest that it’s not at the very end of the year. Not only are very few examination venues particularly photogenic (really, you must think of posterity: do you really want Elvet Riverside in your photos forever?), but they’re thoroughly impractical as a party venue: limited space, pavements of questionable stability…

Oh yes, and the fact that – surprise, surprise – the police force, and the public, don’t particularly look kindly on street revellers. It’s easy to forget that Durham isn’t just a University, but for most people, the day you leave your exam is, well, just another day. That’s not to say that you should come out of the exam hall scowling, but boozing and bellowing isn’t really appreciated by the general public.

Be a good egg, do a good deed: Go and feed the ducks!

For advice and information on celebrating the end of exams safely, click here

Emily Smith

Hi I’m Emily, as befits a recent English graduate, I was Collingwood College’s student Librarian when I was in Durham (I hope to return soon to study more). You’ll usually find me, for either work or play, buried in archives researching the obscure, the niche, and the forgotten…and sometimes wrangling dragons.

Sign up to our Mailing List