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Things I didn’t know about Durham

It’s hilly and sunny

The first thing that I noticed when I arrived in Durham was how sunny the weather was. I had heard a lot about the rainy weather in the UK so I came here expecting the weather to be really terrible all the time, but Autumn in Durham is really sunny and warm, most of the time. I was really glad I took my sunglasses with me even if my parents were really convinced that I would not need them!

The other thing that really strikes me was how hilly Durham is. There is a hill pretty much between all the places I want to go to in Durham, from lecture sites to shops. It is all within walking distance, so there is no need to get a car or bus. In my second year, I moved out of college and my house was right on top of a massive hill, which is a pretty good way to get exercise (or an excuse to stay at home instead of going to the library to study). 

College JCR’s

I did not know what a JCR was before I came to Durham, but it is such an important part of student life here and I think it’s quite important to know a bit before you come.

JCR stands for Junior Common Room, each college has their own JCR. The way I understand it, a JCR is like a kind of student union for each college. Each JCR has their own president, officers and different committees. They are the first bunch of students that you meet when you come to the college, and usually would be in charge of giving you tours around college and organising fun activities to keep you occupied. The JCR may have some activities together with the Student Union, but it is independent from the SU.

Trevelyan college fun facts

I have a few fun facts for those that are interested in Trevelyan college. When I first went there, I noticed that it was basically on the back lawn of St Mary’s College, now I know that there is a reason for that! Trevelyan College was originally part of St. Mary’s College, and both colleges were all-female colleges.

One of the corridors in Trevs (a commonly recognised nickname for Trevelyan College) has a gallery of group pictures from past years. It is a pretty good way of just spending an afternoon trying to work out which year did Trevs start taking male students and to spot famous alumni of Trevs.

Another good way of spending an afternoon in Trevs would be to go to one of the TV lounges. There are two pianos that anyone could use, although one of them is a bit out of tune. The TV lounge is also where mentor meetings would be held, where people from your landing (corridor) meet with a Trevs alumni or retired professor to discuss what have we been up to.

Chapel in St. Chad’s

There is quite a bit of support for faith in Durham, which always pleases me even if I am not religious. The Chapel in St. Chads College is used as a venue for a number of activities, I went there for an event on religion and LGBTQ+. There is also a building in Grey’s College dedicated to support for different faiths.

Before coming to Durham, I did not realise the importance of religious support. Since I am not religious, I cannot comment on the quality of this support for those that are religious, but it is one positive step towards celebrating the diverse community that we have in Durham University.

There is a society for everything

I have heard about the wide variety of societies that Durham offers, but when I came here I was still struck by the number of funky societies that Durham has. Bell ringing, dog walking (volunteering project), do everything once society, and bubble tea!… Name something a large group of students might be interested in, there is probably a society for that. The Bellringing society rings bells in churches, where a rope is pulled to spin a bell in the bell tower, with the bells ranging from 50 to 5000 kilograms. The dog walking one is a volunteering project that organises sessions for volunteers to walk dogs in kennels, whereas the Do everything once society does exactly what it says on the tin – you can try almost all the societies in Durham with this society and get a flavour of what they are like! The bubble tea society has discounts in the local bubble tea shop, an emerging new favourite among the student community.                                  

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