From yoga to formal dinners – my Sutton Trust experience

Mariah Bennett

From the 18 – 23 August 2019 I took part in the Durham University Sutton Trust programme, a week that not only helped confirm that Durham University was for me, but that also introduced me to two of my best friends.

Where’s Durham?

When I was at Sixth Form and before I had even heard about Sutton Trust I was considering applying to Durham. I had the typical comments from others like, ‘where is that?’ or ‘are you sure, Durham is so far away.’ Another comment I heard on many occasions was ‘Durham is so small, the nightlife will be rubbish.’ I have to admit I didn’t know much about Durham’s social life before attending Sutton Trust as this wasn’t an element that attracted me to Durham but having attended Sutton Trust I got to experience being a student at Durham and I must stress how wrong this is! Durham is just as excellent in a social sense as it is academically.

The social activities

Along with the academic project and sessions that I had during the day, the Sutton Trust team had an event planned every evening after dinner to give a taster of what we might expect as students at Durham.

Some of the activities I took part in included an Escape Room, this was an amazing experience for me as I’d never taken part in one before so not only was I trying something new, and meeting and interacting with new people, I was also able to explore some more of Durham, I can most definitely see myself doing this again (when things get back to normal). Other examples of events included a silent disco and a sports-themed societies night where we were able to experience what we might expect from a sports society here at Durham. I did Yoga, where Sutton Trust organised a yoga instructor to come and deliver the session, it was a calming evening that excelled my expectations. I am not a very sporty or physically active individual but after that session, I have now incorporated some yoga into my personal self-care routine.

I think it is really important for me to stress that all of these activities were completely optional, there was so much choice and something for everybody. There were multiple activities running each evening and if somebody just wanted to relax in their room or play pool, cards or board games there was the opportunity to do so with no judgment whatsoever. Personally, my social battery runs out quite quickly, and nobody made me feel bad for choosing to watch Netflix in my room one evening or doing some of my assignments before joining in with everyone.

One of my favourite evenings was the karaoke night, I have fond memories of my newly made friends and I singing (or should I say screaming) to ABBA, High School Musical and some of the cheesiest music you could imagine. I remember feeling so comfortable and free, and this was a side of myself that doesn’t come out very often. This is because there was no judgement; the mentors, the students on the programme and the staff were all so welcoming, kind and understanding. 

Another great experience was the final evening where we had a Formal Dinner, a longstanding tradition here at Durham. I had never experienced anything like that before, and to be honest, I was slightly apprehensive beforehand because I didn’t really know what to expect, but I absolutely loved it. The formal was such a spectacular end to the week, with many activities after dinner like face-painting, live music, and a disco.

The right balance

Sutton Trust here at Durham really does get the balance between academic and social activities and I know this is why I enjoyed it as much as I did. I very nearly didn’t apply but I am so happy that I did. Sutton Trust provides such a unique experience, the ability to meet and make friends with people all over the country, have a taster of what university is like, and explore a new city.

Nobody in my immediate family went to university so I had no idea of what to expect, attending Sutton Trust helped to calm some of my nerves and gave me valuable tips and advice for applying like writing personal statements and choosing where to apply. It was also a great opportunity to meet new people and push myself out of my comfort zone. If you are considering applying – do it, I’m so thankful that I did and I am sure you will be too.

Find out more

The Sutton Trust Summer Schools and how to apply.

Download our latest prospectus here.

Follow our students on Instagram and YouTube.

Mariah Bennett

Hello, I’m Mariah a first-year English Literature student at Josephine Butler College. I’m writing about my experience at the Durham Sutton Trust Summer School in 2019 and why I would recommend anybody to apply!

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