College reallocation

Michael Berendt

Just heard your dream college wasn’t meant to be? Fear not! Many Durham students go through the same struggle and I’m here to tell you that everything will be just fine. These are some of the tips and tricks I used to manage college reallocation to make my new college feel like home!

Disaster! (…or so I’d thought)

When I finally received my offer from Durham, I knew the next step was college allocation! We were the first year group to be able to rank our college preferences and with Durham boasting 17 colleges, there were so many to choose from. “Where do I belong?” was the question that constantly rang through my head. At that time, I had just finished my Harry Potter binge-watch and was feeling particularly magical, so I made University College and Hatfield my top choices. After all, they are one of the oldest and most Hogwarts-esque colleges in Durham!

As I waited for my wizardry confirmation letter, I saw that I had received an email from the staff at Collingwood College congratulating me for being accepted into their college. Although it was not the college of my dreams in that moment, I was still grateful for receiving a place at the university and couldn’t wait to begin my journey at Durham.

Dealing with ‘college pain’

Moving into college can be a daunting experience regardless of whether it’s your first choice college or not. But it’s important to remember that everyone’s in the same boat as you. So here’s a few pointers that I wish I had known to make adjusting to college life that much better.

Do your research…and check out the societies at each college

Firstly, do your research. Have a look online and see what your college has to offer. Each college has a societies page online (on Facebook, on Instagram and on the Durham website) and a dedicated societies fair. Here, you’ll find all the quirky, funny and exciting student-led groups you could join in your spare time, like Pot Noodle Society, Dungeons and Dragons Society, as well as drama and sports teams, for example. I take great pleasure in being the centre of attention, so I just knew I had to join the Collingwood ‘Woodplayers’ Drama Society! A highlight of mine was taking part in our ridiculous but hilarious rendition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You don’t have to be an expert in anything to join a society and if there isn’t one that you’re looking for, you have all the power to start one up! So get out there and find your people!

Keep your door open…and your mind too

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to be open to new things. During Fresher’s week, everyone will be moving into their corridors so keep your door wedged open and welcome your new flatmates for the year! A friendly face goes a long way in making people feel at home and who knows, maybe they’re also looking to make friends, like you are. Be sure to spend some time with them when you’re eating in the dining hall or invite them over for some pizza and hang out in your college’s Junior Common Room. I loved playing pool and the Wii in our common room at Collingwood with my flatmates (although I never won, literally ever!) Your college will also host a course lunch or dinner. This is where you’ll get the chance to introduce yourself to college mates studying the same course as you. I suggest making a social media group chat so you guys can organise study sessions or just walk to classes together. They’re the ones who’ll be sharing your struggles!

Find your own space…make your room your home…

My last bit of advice is to find your own space. College life can be hectic at times especially alongside your degree. So make your room feel like home by decorating it to your heart’s content and allowing yourself some much needed alone time. Make sure you familiarise yourself with college support systems like the Welfare team, the receptionists, the porters, and head of the colleges and Common Room. They’ll be there for all your needs and concerns so show them some love and appreciation!

Have some fun!

Those are the most important things that I wish I had known after hearing I wouldn’t be a wizard in University or Hatfield College. I have met some of the most amazing people and friends in my life at Collingwood and have had nothing but a great time here at Durham thus far. So if you hear news that you’ve been allocated to a college that wasn’t your top preference, have no fear! The colleges don’t make you; you make the colleges. So relax, lay back and get ready for college life!

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Michael Berendt

Hi there! I’m Michael, an international student from South Africa at Collingwood College. I’m a fresher studying Sport and Exercise Sciences. I love getting involved in different societies and sports like Disney Society and the university’s Triathlon and Lifesaving team. Give me a shout if you see me around!

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