Here is a great opportunity to learn more about the UK Durham City and the prestigious Durham University.
Durham is one of the UK’s leading universities situated in the very north-east of England with an impressive cathedral, charming cobbled streets, and a beautiful river.
There are many reasons to consider applying to Durham, besides the prospect of living in a picturesque city. Here’s why it deserves a spot at the top of your list:
Instead of your typical blocks of university halls, Durham has colleges. Mostly split between The Hill and The Bailey, colleges are equipped with their own libraries, bars and sports teams, and vary between catered or self-catered. The result? A very close community, and some almost ready-made friendships. You will become fiercely protective of your college during your time there, and that won’t change after you leave.
Living on the Bailey, you can expect three cooked meals a day, most probably all featuring some form of potato as part of your “five a day”. Phone signal is not part of the package at the Bailey (sorry, Mum) but the close proximity to the arts departments and town is definitely a plus. You do have the option to fend for yourself in the Hill college kitchens and be close to the library and the science site, but be warned…you won’t be avoiding the steep walk home.
Colleges are also famous for their formals: events that consist of a three-course dinner followed by an evening at the dangerously cheap college bar. Usually themed, formals are always fun, particularly in your second and third years as they provide an excuse to get together with friends without the hassle of cleaning up afterwards.
College celebrations – like formals and balls – are big occasions, one of the best being ‘college day’, where a college will dedicate a whole day to celebrating that specific college. Expect a day of live music, inflatable obstacle courses and laser tag. These occasions generally end in the camaraderie of wailing your college song at the top of your lungs together with your college mates at the bar.
While this collegiate experience is special (and unique to Durham, Oxford and Cambridge) it does mean you may miss out on a ‘whole university’ feel. Where most universities have Student Union nights, at Durham everyone congregates in their college bar, so you rarely get that ‘whole student body’ experience.
In fact, one of the few places you will see students coming together is the university library. Known colloquially to Durham students as ‘the Billy B’, or simply ‘Billy’, the Bill Bryson Library is famous for its amazing range of resources, and extortionate food prices. Consider taking your own lunch to avoid having to take out another student loan to fund your soggy sandwich.
During exam time or Summative Season, Billy remains open 24/7, so if you’ve left work to the last minute you can pull those all-nighters with other students who have also foolishly decided to start revision in the 12 hours leading up to their exam.
But don’t worry, while you will work hard at Durham, there’s lots of support to help you manage your time, so crazy hours are rare. Lectures are inspiring and engaging since professors are experts in their fields and enthused by what they teach.
Part Time Jobs
With tuition fees at Durham currently standing at £9,250 per year, it’s not uncommon for students to pick up part time jobs to help make ends meet. Working in coffee shops, clothing stores, as well as ‘pulling pints’ are all popular options for students at the university.
There’s also a growing trend (particularly with undergraduates) for signing up to be online tutors, allowing them to work from the comfort of their own home.
Work Hard, Play Hard
With Durham’s work hard, play hard culture, your degree is far from the whole university experience. Over 90% of students take part in some sort of physical activity, whether that’s playing for the university or your college, benefitting from a subsidised gym membership, or becoming part of the social darts teams.
But societies are not limited to sports, and there is a society for anything and everything; from the Baking Society to Quidditch, make sure to get involved with as much as you can. Aside from the activity itself, it can be a great way of escaping any potential feelings of college claustrophobia, and making friends from other colleges, which might lead to yet even more formals (if you’re strong enough to endure the betrayal of setting foot in another college). Volunteering is also a big part of the Durham experience, and together with sports and societies, make up some of the best fancy-dress socials you will have.
By the end of your time at Durham, your Facebook profile will be filled to the brim with three years worth of black tie or fancy-dress photos. Your appetite for potatoes will have vanished for the foreseeable future, and any venture you make ‘down South’ will feel like a trip to the Caribbean. That aside, you will have made friends to last you a lifetime, and will have a stellar degree and society-learned skills to take with you after you’ve left the forever-cherished university “bubble”.
Written by Holly Keevil, an English and Psychology tutor and Durham undergraduate