If you’re reading this blog post, I believe congratulations are in order, on your fantastic exam results and acceptance of a sought-after place at Durham University! Just a couple of years ago, I was in your shoes, feeling a mixture of excitement and nerves as I looked forward to jumping into university life. Now, as a third-year undergraduate, I hope to pass on some words of wisdom to help you make the most of your fun-filled first week!
Moving in day can be daunting, but once your things are unpacked, you’ll start to feel Durham becoming your second home. Although I’ve been guilty of this myself, you don’t need to bring everything but the kitchen sink to uni, especially if you have to travel by train or plane. There’s no need for pans or excessive crockery when living in catered college accommodation. Try not to pack your whole wardrobe. If you’re a shopaholic, like me, you are bound to grow your clothing collection whilst at university so leave space for this. And don’t forget, with Durham’s Market Square just a short walk away, there is always the opportunity to buy anything you may have forgotten.
I would recommend bringing photos and nice décor to make your room feel homely – this really helped me settle into my first-year college accommodation. I also followed the classic freshers’ tip of bringing a doorstop to invite others on your corridor to meet you whilst you unpack. And of course, bring cookies; offering free food is a tried and tested method of making friends!
Don’t be scared to go around your college to meet others who are moving in – chances are they’ll be just as nervous as you! Be prepared with the typical freshers greeting questions of “What’s your name? What do you study? Where are you from?” – the answers to which you are unlikely to remember from everyone you meet, but they’re a solid conversation starter to ease the nerves. By being confident and friendly you’re certain to find some great friends during your first week here. You’ll meet people from a whole range of interesting backgrounds. Despite Durham’s high-grade requirements, don’t be worried that everyone will be posh and intimidating, because that’s simply not the case!
More information on ‘What to bring to University’
There will be a Team Durham sports fair on Tuesday 1st October and the Freshers’ Fairs are taking place on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd October in the Students’ Union building and just next door in Elvet Riverside – if you can, try to pop in on both days as there will be different stalls. The Fresher’s Fairs host all of Durham’s clubs and societies so you can see what activities you fancy signing up for. Durham Students’ Union offers over 200 different clubs and societies, in addition to Team Durham and college sports clubs, Durham Student Theatre’s 26 theatre companies and Music Durham’s 79 societies – plus student volunteering projects. From sports clubs to niche groups like the Glitter and Chocolate societies, there is certainly something for everyone and don’t forget to pick up the cool freebies too!
Don’t be scared to sign up for something new; it’s a fantastic opportunity to try something different, discover new interests and meet like-minded people from other colleges. And if it turns out that you don’t enjoy the society, don’t worry, you can just try something else!
Colleges also host their own Freshers’ Fairs to advertise college-run clubs and societies, so look out for these too! You’ll be amazed at how much goes on within your college.
Matriculation is a fantastic experience where you feel truly welcomed as a student at Durham University. The magnificent Durham Cathedral plays host to the University-wide Matriculation ceremonies that take place throughout the day on Wednesday of Induction Week. One undergraduate and one postgraduate student from each college sign the Matriculation book during the ceremony on behalf of the new intake of each college. Wearing your gown and enjoying the wonderful service makes your initial university experience feel a bit like Hogwarts, in the best possible way! Colleges also hold their own college-based Matriculation ceremonies, as well as the University one, whereby each new student signs the college book and officially becomes a member of their college.
Believe it or not, Induction Week isn’t all about socialising, there are Departmental Welcome and Induction sessions too… you are here for a degree after all! These sessions often outline your course timetable and give you a good idea of what to expect in your first year of study. You also get the chance to meet the academics and other members of staff in your department, but I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear that lectures don’t start until your second week. Freshers’ reps and other students will be more than happy to point you in the right direction for your induction sessions, so don’t worry about getting lost; you’ll find your way around before you know it.
The Welcome & Induction webpages will give you loads of information. This includes the Online Induction Planner where you can create a personalised timetable of events organised by your college and department. You can also check out other blogs and follow @thedurhamstudent on Instagram (I am the page admin!), to see what the Durham student experience looks like.
Read part 2 of my blog here