Ten Top Tips for your first week at Durham University

Ruby Tomlinson

Bring a pack of cards or a game!

Freshers week is mostly for getting to know all the people in your corridor, a few induction lectures, and working out what sports and societies you might want to join. But on top of all the organised activities, you’ll still have some free time with your new friends and bringing a pack of cards or a game can help to bring people out of their rooms and start getting to know each other. I can vouch that uni students love Twister!

You don’t have to go out every night.

If that’s your scene, then take advantage of the great nightlife Durham has to offer, but its worth remembering that the chill options are equally as fun and have often had even more time and effort put into them. One of my favourite nights during Freshers was a mocktail and escape room night run by the Freshers Reps at college

Make time to call your home friends/family.

Even if you’re super busy, keeping in contact with home can help you adjust to the move, especially if you’ve moved a long way. It also means you can catch up on the gossip from other uni Freshers weeks.

If you’re in a catered college, make the most of college food.

Eating more at meal times stops you from buying so many snacks, and you’ll come to realise especially in term time that catered meal times can be some of the social highlights of the day – sometimes in first year my friends and I would stay in the dining hall for over an hour, just catching up and making plans for the evening

Similarly, if you’re in self-catered accommodation,

Don’t forget to look after yourself by cooking some healthy meals during the week

it might be worth making some at home and freezing them to bring up with you! You’ll need a lot of energy for Freshers week

Buy a planner/diary or download an organisation app on your phone.

This will be SO important for deadlines and lectures in term time, but can also help you keep track of when and where everything is during Freshers, so its best to get one before you come.

Bring a tea towel/hand towel.

Probably one of the most frustrating things I forgot coming to university accommodation which had sinks in each room, not forgetting any washing of tea mugs and glasses I was doing in the pantry. I went an embarrassingly long time using paper towels from the toilet before investing, so do yourself a favour and bring one from home.

Take advantage of all the tasters offered by the sports and societies fairs and sign up for as many as you want to!

First year at Durham is academically taxing, but less intense than second and third year, so use the first week and term after that to start finding what your thing is at uni. You may start by trying five different things, then cut down to just one or two once you’ve worked out where you really want to spend your time. This can be something you’ve done for years, or something you want to try for the very first time!

Don’t pay too much attention to social media.

Even though Freshers week is really exciting, it can be a difficult time as you will be establishing lots of new relationships. Looking at Instagram and Facebook can make it seem like everyone else is making friends easily and having the time of their lives all the time, but often most people are in the same boat and are as nervous as you about making friends – even if their social media doesn’t show it!

Finally – and perhaps most important…

Do your washing and cleaning.

Don’t leave your bed sheets four weeks before finally paying for circuit laundry! Living in a clean space is key to an effective work environment when lectures begin, and your new friends will appreciate a clean kitchen to make snacks in too.

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Ruby Tomlinson

Hi, my name is Ruby, a recent graduate in English at Van Mildert College. When in Durham I loved getting outside to see the beauty spots the city has to offer, so you'll see many of my blogs offer recommendations! I take part in lots of extra-curriculars such as ball planning, sailing, dance and charity work, so I'm looking forward to sharing my experience and I hope you find it useful.

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