Find out what life is really like at Durham University

Student experienceUndergraduate

What’s being a student really like?

“Students are having the time of their lives at uni! You’ll never want to leave!”

This, and other such encouragements, I was given before I started at Durham for the first time, back in September 2019. It’s pretty likely many of you will have heard the same, but as a student, can I say that this is true?

As an eighteen year old, this seems a very bold claim to make, but I have to admit that some of my best memories of the past eighteen years have been made in the last 6 months. University has certainly offered me a number of exciting opportunities and the bestest of friends who make my day even when I’m feeling down. Moving away from home for the first time offers a sense of freedom and independence: who cares if I stay awake until 3 am and eat a whole pack of chocolate digestives?!

It can be scary

However, I’d be lying if I said student life was one great big ball of fun the whole time. For me, uni has been a huge emotional roller coaster, of some of the greatest moments of my life, but also some more sobering moments. Making new friends is always scary, and it’s pretty likely you’re going to worry that no one actually wants to talk to you and you’re pretty sure people are leaving you out. Add this to the fact that maybe you might actually miss your annoying parents and you stayed up until 3 am eating a whole pack of chocolate digestives when you have an essay due and suddenly you’re stressed. When you couple this with the pressure that you’re supposed to be having “the best time of your life,” it can be easy to feel a bit overwhelmed as a student.

But don’t worry!

If it really seems to be going downhill, there are so many support networks at Durham to get in touch with: your friends, family, and the support both at your college and the University is easily accessible. This will hopefully get you right back on track, as it has done me many a time.

Finally, when the essay is submitted, your friends are asking if you want to celebrate Pancake Day and all of a sudden, you’re halfway through term already, uni seems pretty great again. The most important thing to understand is that everyone’s “best time of their life” is very, very different. Definitely begin student life with the expectation that you’re going to have a great time, but make sure you understand that firstly, this will be individual to you, and secondly, it might not feel this way all the time, but even if you have a knock the support systems in place make it easy to get back up again.

For more information about the Supported Progression programme click here.

To download our new 2021 prospectus click here.

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Ruby Tomlinson

Hi, I'm Ruby, a second year English Literature Student from Van Mildert College. Over lockdown I've been putting my running shoes on to get out and about around Durham city and the surrounding countryside (including peacocks!), so I can definitely recommend getting yourself involved in some new exploration. The student ambassador team have all been working really hard to get out our favourite lockdown Durham tips like this and make video content for you to hear from real students, so please don't be shy: have a look at our vlogs and feel free to get in touch with any questions.
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