You may envisage Fresher’s Week as going out clubbing every night. This can be how your first week goes, but it doesn’t have to be. Durham colleges are fantastic at organising both going out and staying in activities to suit everyone. Throughout Induction Week there will be film nights, quizzes and games in each college, as well as college bar crawls and club events, so you’ll have fun evenings with like-minded people whatever you choose to do.
My favourite parts of Induction Week were the themed evenings my college ran – each evening was a different theme, from space to safari. Not to give too much away, but we dressed accordingly, and the college was filled with decorations based on the theme. Similar events organised by college JCR’s run in all colleges during Induction Week. You can put as much, or as little effort into your fancy dress as you like, but if you’re extra like me, you’ll go all out!
If you do venture to Durham’s clubs, wear light clothing as it gets very hot, and girls, it’s totally acceptable to wear trainers, don’t bother killing your feet in heels unnecessarily. There will be Fresher’s Reps on hand to make sure you’re safe in clubs in your first week, but to make their job easier, try to know your limits and take care of yourself and other freshers.
It’s great to keep yourself busy attending as many events as possible during Induction Week, but it’s also important to take time out for yourself and get some rest – all the socialising can be exhausting. Having some time in your room to rest and recuperate is nothing to be ashamed about, plus – it ensures you don’t run out of energy before the end of the week.
Formal dinners are a big part of College life and the Durham University experience. Colleges hold regular formal dinners which students living in and out of college, can attend. In most colleges, these are traditional three-course meals. Some colleges are more formal than others, so depending on your college, you may be required to wear formal dress and your academic gown. Your Freshers’ Formal Welcome Dinner will be held in your first few weeks at Durham and is certainly something to look forward to!
Durham boasts a very strong student support network, with various schemes running throughout colleges and the wider university. There are various initiatives in different colleges, including pastoral tutors and college families, as well as trained student support workers, who can signpost you to specific specialist services if you need them.
In my first week here I met my pastoral tutor, an external volunteer who meets with me termly to discuss how I’m finding university. My tutor Ann, is an exceptionally lovely lady who invites her pastoral tutor group to her house regularly, to enjoy her amazing homemade dinners. More commonly, tutors will invite you to meet them at one of the many cafés in the city. They’re always happy to offer a helping hand if you have any problems and will also be a fantastic person to ask for a character reference, so I would highly recommend carrying on meeting with them until you graduate.
You may also meet your college family in your first week – several colleges offer ‘College Families’. This may seem like a strange concept, but it offers a great way to meet people from other years at your college! You will be assigned with second-year undergraduates as parents and other first-years as siblings. Your ‘family’ will be carefully tailored by the family freshers’ rep, so you are likely to study similar subjects, or have similar interests. Your ‘college parents’ will be happy to help you however they can and may ask to meet you throughout the year to check how you’re getting on.
All in all, I found Induction Week to be an amazing experience, but if it isn’t all that you expected, don’t worry– you’ll soon settle in, find incredible friends and start wishing your time at university would slow down.
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.
Wishing you all the best of luck with your first year, I hope you’ll love living and studying in this beautiful city as much as I do.