Mia – my first day at Durham

Mia Ainsley

Not far to travel

Your first day at university tends to be one of the few, monumental moments in life that you will never forget. For me, it was a day I had waited long and hard to experience and it certainly lived up to every expectation that my childhood self had dreamed about for so long. Before we set off, we had to decorate our car in yellow to represent my college, Josephine Butler’s colours. This was my first experience of the sense of college pride that radiates from all Durham students and I loved it!

Luckily our journey was a short one, as during the drive I was crammed against my many boxes which were filled, for the most part, with lots of unnecessary items flooding out of my mam’s small car. Just a 30-minute drive separated me from my new and hopeful future.

What a welcome

When we turned the corner into Josephine Butler college, we were immediately greeted by a roar of noise, loads of friendly freps* dressed in yellow and of course the college mascot. It was like something out of a movie. My parents got involved straight away, beeping their horn and singing along to the music. I instantly felt at home. After checking in and emptying some bags, my parents and I did a food shop at Tesco and had a walk around Durham’s scenic town before saying goodbye. The emotional goodbyes may seem very dramatic now, considering how close I still live to home, but I think that is just part of the moving experience and I know that I would not change a second.

My college friends and frep

Looking forward to freshers’ week

With my parents gone, I could start getting ready for the first event of freshers’ week: Butler Colours night. For this, we all had to dress in yellow and red and meet in our college bar, JB’s, for a night of socialising and settling in. Before heading to the bar, we were met by our flat frep. The flat frep is one of the freps whose job is to look after just one flat by checking in each day to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and happy. Our flat frep also answered any questions we had about Durham and took us on a tour around the college. That night I was able to meet people I am lucky enough to still call my friends today and I could not be more grateful to both my college and Durham for this overwhelmingly positive, first experience.

* freps stands for fresher’s representatives who are university students that apply to look after the new students at their college during their first few weeks at college.

Discover more

Check out our Welcome and Orientation Week webpages here

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Mia Ainsley


Hi! I am Mia, a third year Modern Languages and Cultures (MLAC) student at Durham University. From the north east & a very proud member of Josephine Butler College. When I am not studying for my degree, you can probably find me taking part in some of Durham's societies. I am one of the project coordinators for MLAC Outreach society, a member of the 93% club and hoping to join yoga soon too!


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