Applying to university is not always a straightforward choice for everyone. Some students have aspired to go to a particular university before they even choose their A-levels, others still struggle to decide on one even after they have received their offers; I happened to be the latter.
How did I decide to study at Durham?
Well, before coming to Durham, I was actually a part of the Sutton Trust Summer School programme which really helped me to get a feel of the student life in Durham. I was able to experience college life and food, touring the town, and even taking Criminology taster classes with one of the Professors at Durham.
Even though I enjoyed the summer school, it was still a really difficult choice, mainly because I knew how different Durham is from London which scared me a lot because I haven’t lived anywhere except for London before. But I decided on Durham because I knew of the reputation it carries and, to be honest, I actually felt as though a change was needed, you know? Growing up, getting older… I felt I could really live an independent life away from home.
So, what were my expectations before arriving at Durham?
- Feeling out of place as a Black woman in a highly-populated White area
- Feeling lonely in a place so far from home
- Having to teach myself with little to no help from Professors
- Being a target for racism
- Nearly all students would be posh and middle-classed
- The weather would be freezing
- Would not reflect the summer school at all
What were the realities?
When I finally arrived at Durham, everything was far from what I expected. I literally had nothing to worry about. Durham definitely is a white populated area but it is not as bad as I thought it would be. Everyone is super friendly, in college, on my course, and the local residents treat you like they have known you forever – which is way different from London! Different in a good way of course!
Also, I can’t really tell who is middle-class and who isn’t, so feeling left out in that sense has not been an issue at all. Sometimes I did feel lonely though, especially when I started missing my friends and family at home, but when I found about Railcards and LNER discounts, that was easily resolved!
The events in College definitely did resemble Summer School which I found hilarious because of how much it still makes you remember your inner child. Before I arrived, I was expecting it to be all seriousness and books only. I really did believe Summer School was just a front but, trust me, it’s not!
Lastly, it definitely is cold in Durham but not as cold as I thought it would be. Sometimes it’s even colder in London than it is in Durham.
Overall, my expectations and preconceptions of Durham did not match the reality of it. A lot of people have worries but that is normal when moving to a new place, but it’s better to go in with an open mind rather than a closed one!
Find out more
Durham University’s STEP programme here
Sutton Trust Summer School here
Download our latest prospectus here.