A frosty walk through Michaelmas

Claudia Chmura

It’s 5pm on Saturday the 10th of December; it’s pitch-black outside and I’ve got my feet placed on a fuzzy-koala hot water bottle that I received from a housemate as a Secret Santa gift the night before and have been utilising non-stop since then to nurse some feeling back into those limbs which my “daily walk outside” has robbed.

Having sufficiently set the scene – oh no wait! My “daily walk outside” always begins (rather ambitiously) as a “daily run”, though it rarely retains this title as I am always looking for reasons not to run, and only occasionally fail to find a sufficient excuse. Today’s ‘reason to stop running’ was slipping and falling on a patch of ice, don’t worry though, it was completely inevitable and quite frankly I was waiting for it to happen so I could justify walking the rest of the way home. Additionally, the chill in the air was enough to completely numb my legs so the area was basically immediately iced and I don’t even have to worry about bruising!

The crystal ice structures on this railing were irresistible – had to stop to draw a satisfyingly crunchy smiley face on it

Ok, having more than sufficiently set the scene, I shall commence on my walk (not run) down memory lane.

Difficult decisions

I feel I should begin by clarifying why this is a ‘frosty’ journey for me, beyond the obvious weather conditions which inspired this blog post; I have mixed emotions about my first term of the second year. That being said, perhaps the title of this article is metaphorically unsuitable seeing as the one thing that Durham has not been to me these last few weeks is ‘unfriendly or cold in manner’, in fact, it has been a very comforting stability around which to centre my otherwise erratic routine.

I began the year pretty uncertain about my module choices and was soon sending increasingly panicked emails about changing one of them; not only was this possible, but after the three weeks it took me to finally give up and realise that I just wasn’t happy in those classes, everyone was prompt in responding and my new module conveyor was very accommodating about helping me catch up on anything I missed.

My Victorian-era student house experienced some sizeable (and unpleasant) hiccups that you really don’t want to know about, suffice to say I have a new appreciation for mops and bleach. My student job (this one actually) was an extremely exciting new prospect that I was far too anxious to do well in and caused me some undue stress, completely unnecessarily I should add. On top of that, I had some personal ‘getting to grips with oneself’ stuff to get my head around which clashed at times with what was actually a very considerable workload in comparison to last year.

To set the scene some more: I am writing this, with an overdue formative essay hanging over my head, as a still-useful-but-definitely-procrastination exercise, because my professors have been extremely understanding about struggling with some topics, and quite frankly I have no idea how to write a literary theory essay. (How does an English student write 2000 words without referencing a single book/poem, about the completely abstract ideas of some extremely brainy literary scholars, without repeating verbatim everything that has already been said? I’ll have figured it out within the next few days but for now, I would like to memorialise my frustration. This, hopefully, without coming across as criticising the English department, which is genuinely fantastic just to be clear, my main issue is that I cannot express my ideas without regressing to some sort of hand-gesture-filled pantomime, but that’s not the point of this blog post.)

I seem to have become distracted once again.

This kind of fog was covering all the fields around Maiden Castle, making the usually-muddy expanse sufficiently dreamy for my reminiscing mind

Michaelmas term

Michaelmas – I really love saying that, it makes the 10 weeks of October and November sound so majestic – it is the longest term of the university year. By the end, I was semi-delusional with exhaustion (can you tell from reading this article?) yearning for Christmas and regurgitating the phrase “Brrrr it’s so cold today” every time someone made eye contact with me like one of those ‘press button to hear noise’ children’s toys. In short, it was great. I feel more settled in Durham than ever before, I walk through the streets with a confident familiarity, I’ve been to about 12 of the 63 university buildings now, which is at least 7 more than I ever needed to go to and I feel quite proud of my exploring skills.

I am looking forward to a break, but I can’t imagine not wanting to come back here in the new year. I’m excited about my course, I’m excited about my job, I’m excited about living with my friends and leading a life of my own away from home, and I’m really excited to do well here because I really think I can and I’m enjoying the journey. Frosty weather notwithstanding, everything around me is beautiful, even when it makes me fall and definitely still bruise (I was slightly over-optimistic in my earlier assessments) my hip – I am leaving the extent of this metaphor open to interpretation.

Handprints are not my own and owners will receive no compensation beyond feeling part of something larger than themselves through their unwilling participation in this article

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and *sings Auld Lang Syne*

because it’s a great poem and an even greater song.

You may imagine my singing voice as good or as bad as you wish it to be,

that is my Christmas gift, to you from me.

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Claudia Chmura


Hi, I’m Claudia and I am an English student at St Chad’s College, this will be my second year as a content creator for Durham University. I’m excited to see what final year studying English year has in store for me and just trying to muddle through somehow! 


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