The living in college experience

Stephanie Black

Before starting my degree at Durham, one of my main questions was whether to live in or out of college. After living in college for one year at Ustinov, it was absolutely the right decision for me.


Before starting at Durham, I had only visited the city once before and knew no one. I was also coming from Australia, and I was nervous about renting somewhere I would not have a chance to see in person. Living in took that stress away. It can also be stressful moving in with people you don’t know, but the beauty of living in college is that you can be as close or as distant from your flat as you want. Also, if you end up not being particularly close to your flatmates, there are literally people living all around you who could be your next best friend.

It was easy to make friends in college

Living in college is also so convenient when all your friends are here. I have had the opportunity to make so many friends from around the world who all live around me. In making so many international friends, I have been able to celebrate so many different holidays, such as Diwali, New Moon Festival, and see how different countries celebrate Christmas and Easter. It also meant I’ve been able to try so many different international foods, and my palate has expanded, as well as my ability to handle spice! Makes late-night study sessions or movie nights that much easier when everyone lives so close. Living in college has also made it easy for me to be involved with GCR (Graduate Common Room) events. Karaoke, open mic, and movie nights are just some of the events I have attended.


Ustinov definitely has a reputation for being full of old people, and no one knows where it is. However, this reputation is not the reality of college life. That’s not to say that I haven’t appreciated the calm around Ustinov, especially when it is the summative season. It definitely isn’t as far away from town as people seem to make it, but it is far enough away that it feels like its own little world. I love being able to watch all the neighbours walking their dogs past my window.

The view from my college bedroom

When it is winter and so cold (at least for an Aussie), it’s convenient to have the bar in college with tons of board and card games to play. Even though I do like going out, I hate the cold, and I love chilling with my friends and playing games. Impromptu dance parties at 2 am in the bar are iconic memories. If you do want to go out into town, there are always people to go with, and as everyone lives in the same buildings, we all walk home together, which feels so much safer.

Packing list

If you do decide to live in college, these are some things I recommend you bring:

  • A torch/headlamp
  • A plant
  • More than one set of cutlery/crockery
  • Food to last you till you get to the shops
  • Microwavable food containers
  • Fluffy blanket
  • Extra pillows
  • A card game to help break the ice with flatmates
  • Shoes you’re comfortable walking in because of all the hills!

Living in college has given me memories that will last a lifetime and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to feel part of a community.

Follow me on Instagram and TikTok

Discover more

About postgraduate study at Durham here

Download our prospectus and college guide here

Follow our students on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

Stephanie Black

Stephanie is a current MA in Archaeology student who will be starting her PhD in October 2022 in the Department of Archaeology. One of her newest discovered passions is for baking bread which she is always messaging her friends to come over and try.

Related Posts

Our field trip to Armenia

Our field trip began with a range of presentations about the culture, politics and history of Armenia. Developing a deep understanding of their historical and

Read More »