Assalam alaikum 🙂 First of all, Congratulations on your new journey at Durham! I can still remember mixed feelings of excitement, anxiety, and nervousness, but also counting down to the day of departure. Moving to a new town or country could be thrilling as well as nerve-shaking, especially when you are going to stay far away from your familiar community and culture. After many trials and errors over the first few months, I will share my first experiences living in Durham as an international Muslim student. I hope it may comfort you to stop shaking and start getting excited for your upcoming life at Durham University!
Places for filling your stomach
What better way to cure home-sickness than culinary therapy! Filling your stomach with familiar tastes (at least dishes you might be familiar with on special occasions) can comfort your stomach and soul. My friends and I tried these, and I do recommend them.
Let us start with Lebaneat Durham. The restaurant served Lebaneat cuisine, with spices warm and cozy taste. If you have never tried a Lebaneat dish (like myself) before, here is what I recommended (based on my tastes): Sambousek Cheese- the deep-fried Lebanese pastry stuffed with feta and mozzarella cheese served with garlic sauce. Alternatively, if you seek something more filling dish than that, a large and yummy wrap of Chicken Swarchma could fill your stomach all day long.
Most Muslim guidance covers only a sit-in restaurant; however, Go Waffle is a must if you are a sweet tooth. After exams, it is always my to-go place to fill in sugar cravings. The place offers various flavours of ice cream and a diverse menu, from a scoop of ice cream to a decorated waffle. If you want inspiration, my favourite is the Go’ Dough Waffle- a warm waffle served with two scoops of vanilla and cookie dough ice crème, a hot brownie, and chocolate syrup. Please don’t trust me unless you try yourself 😉
Places for your soul
You can join the Old Elvet prayer room behind Dun Cow Inn if you live around the Bailey side or the city centre. The entrance is quite tiny, walking past the red brick building of Hotel Indigo for around 2 minutes. My trick is to look for a little ghost painted on the wall of Dun Cow Inn. If you get lost, do not worry; search ‘Durham Islamic Society Mosque’ on Google map, and it will lead you there safe and sound. Also, climbing down to the bailey is unnecessary if you are living around the hillside. The other prayer room was provided in front of Grey College. It is only a 5-minute walk from Bill Bryson Library and Teaching & Learning Centre. Both locations have the exact Jamaah times found on the website. The centre code is required, which you can find on Duisoc’s Instagram.
Studying far from home made me spend special occasions like Eid al-Fitr and Eid Adha far away from my family. Last year was my first time spending both Eid at Durham; however, it felt like home. Since Ramadan, the Durham Islamic Society has provided students and locals with Iftar every day of the holy month at the old Elvet prayer room. They also held a memorable Eid al-Fitr and Eid-adha, a celebration for students staying at Durham during the period. The two-day events were divided into two parts: a joyful Eid prayer in the morning at Stephenson College and having lunch while exploring cultural activities at the Oriental Museum along with other brothers and sisters. Spending a special day at Durham with many new friends will become one of my favourite moments of student life.
Places for welfare and support
If you are new and here by yourself, do not worry. The Durham University Islamic Society holds many events and activities for freshers to come and get to know each other, for example, pizza, warm welcome, quizzes, games nights, coffee & snacks after the Jummah prayer with a Durham city walking tour. All Muslim brothers and sisters are there to support each other regardless of different cultures and backgrounds. One of my favourite activities is the Sister’s Henna Night. It was my first time participating in community events, and it turned out to be one of my best memories when looking back. I feel so welcomed and safe living in this community, and I encourage you to start from there, a starting point for your journey at Durham.
I hope this mini guide be informative more or less. Taking first step on your new journey might be leg-shaking but remember that you will not be alone. There are hundreds of freshers embarking on this new journey with you. You can also follow us the Durham students on website and social media, so you won’t miss many more upcoming activities throughout the year!
The Islamic Society – DUISOC Instagram
Facebook page: Durham University ISOC
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