Find out what life is really like at Durham University

Student experience

Moving out in 2020

Bill Bryson Lilbrary

Granted, this year so far hasn’t been how I imagined it would be moving out. My images of going out all the time, cooking for friends, and beating any challenger to my FIFA 21 crown can’t happen under current circumstances (bar humbling any challenger to my FIFA crown!).

I’m someone who last year tended to live in the Billy B (our main library) and its study rooms, particularly around deadline time! Then lockdown hit and this somewhat disrupted my routine and I had to find a new way of working. No more walking around the city in between lectures or library sessions, or popping into college for food and so on. I have independence! And well – it’s different…

In the world of Covid, the only things that are set in my schedule are seminars – which means that I have a LOT of unstructured time in my week to work on my degree and on things for various societies and the play I’m involved in, Among Us.

Bill Bryson Library – also known as the Billy B.

Extra Curricular activities are a key part of life at Durham

Durham is great at offering extra-curricular activities, whether that is for fun, to pursue an interest, or to develop yourself, this is something that I definitely try to take advantage of and this takes up much of my week. What’s probably the most time-consuming at the moment is being in the Durham Union (debating society), where I was recently the speaker’s secretary which involved and still involves a lot of meetings and emails sent to various high-profile speakers.

Aside from that, I’m in the advanced debating stream where I take part in weekly training as well as the occasional National competition and sometimes volunteer at other streams. To escape from the Zoomsphere I also embarrass myself on the football pitch twice a week, proudly representing my college.  

The Durham Union.

It’s not all fun and games though, with age comes greater responsibilities! Moving out brings with it various life admin, including scheduling time for my big shopping trip, cooking every day (my college last year was catered) and doing laundry, among many other things. My main priority and the biggest use of my time during university is of course my degree. As a humanities student, the biggest single block of my time is taken up by reading, whether that is for lectures or seminars. All of my lectures this year are online, so these need to be watched and taken notes on at regular intervals throughout the week. My best friend here is definitely my Google calendar which outlines all of my weekly commitments, which I then juggle with various work that I need to complete.

So, how do I actually maintain a work life balance?

First things first, have chill time and have work time. Whilst there is definitely too much overlap on this Venn diagram for my liking, trying to have changes of scenery and set working times does help my productivity. In Covid times I’ve tried to get creative, whether that’s working outside on a bench or in different rooms in the house, this has definitely helped me stay focused. Having set goals each day is something that helps me progress and power through the week.

Also, take breaks! I have things throughout my week that are set, and those are goals to look forward to throughout that day. I try and start my days off with something active, whether that is an early morning gym session or a walk in the middle of the day to break my work up – doing something definitely helps!. Watching some YouTube, playing a Fifa game or 3 or losing heavily at Wii Sports is always an option as well!

Whilst this works for me, it might not for you, it’s all about finding what works for you personally.

Footnote: Some statements about my Fifa ability may or may not be false…

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Matthew Midlane

Hi! I’m Matthew, a second year Combined Honours in Social Sciences (History and Politics) Undergraduate at St Aidan’s College. I’ve come to Durham having been born and bred in East London!
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