Last 5 things I bought as a student

Catherine Perkins

We’ve all been there: you’ve come to university, your student loan has just come in, and suddenly the world is waiting. You have a bit more freedom now – so what are you going to spend the money on? Perhaps a day trip to Newcastle, or a night out with friends. Or so we think. But then the day-to-day life as a student hits (especially as a finalist during the Covid pandemic!), and the reality is that life is a lot more ordinary than this! So what were the last 5 things I bought?


We’ve recently come back to term here in Durham and that means that course texts are much required. Luckily in Durham, you can often find older students selling off their old texts that are much cheaper than originals. Alternatively, as I did, you can find second-hand copies on sites like AbeBooks. My first purchase: course texts for Higher Latin 2020-1! I am really looking forward to studying Martial and Pliny and seeing the interactions between the two authors.

Unexpected essentials

My next purchase took me to the heart of Durham town centre: the covered marketplace. This hidden gem is full of all those things that you don’t know you need until you need them. Today I needed a lightbulb and a sewing kit. Because light is pretty essential now the nights are drawing in, and a sewing kit because I split the stitching after trying to heat up my microwaveable beany Gromit (yes teddys are allowed, and heat-able ones yet more so – Durham is freezing in Autumn!). Sewing him up will also prove a relaxing activity in between work.

Fab leggings

Since being back in Durham, I have been enjoying getting out to the riverside to run as the sun rises. I’ve managed to just about miss the rain and have been able to run with friends which has been a nice way to do something together in a socially distanced way. But my one pair of running trousers is getting a bit threadbare, so thanks to a Fabletics discount (Youtube Influencers, thank you!), I have just purchased two new pairs for a very reasonable £24. I am excited to try them out!

Tea and cakes galore!

This year I am the Welfare Officer at St John’s College, and now our Freshers have arrived, we want to help them settle and feel welcomed here in Durham. So I went down to Tesco yesterday, complete with masks and sanitiser, to clear the shelves of teabags and cake, which we will deliver safely to households. This purchase will be refunded by our JCR, which is common practice across Durham: definitely don’t worry about getting involved in sports or societies if cost is a barrier as JCRs have funds that they can provide to help with this!

Netflix party & pizza

Finally, I think it’s really important that in this “new normal” we are taking some time for self care! Thanks to the beauty of Durham in Autumn and some opportune moments, I was lucky to take a photo that won a prize from our Principal in the St John’s Autumnal Photo Competition. This is a monetary donation towards a takeaway from anywhere in Durham. I have saved this until now, when, at the end of a long and busy week, I am anxiously awaiting a Dominoes which I can munch on whilst streaming a Netflix Party movie.

Every day at Durham is an adventure, and it’s all a balance. But work, social life, volunteering, and maintaining physical and mental health are all possible, even in a pandemic and on a budget!

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Catherine Perkins

Hi, I’m Catherine and I’m a finalist at St John’s College where I study Classics with a splash of Theology in there too! During my time at Durham, I have worked as a Durham Student Ambassador and I am currently the Senior Welfare Officer at St John’s. In my spare time, I enjoy running around the Durham riverbanks and enjoying the beautiful sunrises, and sing in lots of choirs around the city.

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