Things I wish I had known before starting my Masters at Durham University Business School

Rammal Arif

The route from being that confused postgraduate to an “i-got-it-all-together” postgraduate student is one of major twists, rerouting, and turns. But lucky for you, it has been about 4 months of me navigating through this route, and I am here to tell you all about the straight route of things I wish I had known before starting my Masters at Durham University Business School.

Research, research, research

It is important not to jump into being a postgraduate student head first without any support to cushion the fall. Therefore, doing your research is so essential. Research about modules being offered in your programme. Contact department heads, module leaders, or previous students to get more in-depth about your courses and see what content matches your personal and professional goals. 

In my case, searching for Durham alumni on LinkedIn with whom I had a connection with; for instance, I reached out to someone who went into the same undergraduate university was a game changer. I connected with a person on LinkedIn and asked him a gazillion questions. What grocery stores are the best? What mobile network should I get? What about the heating? Will I get to see the sun? What’s the transportation system like? 

Another thing that I did was talk to my programme director, whose contact details you can find on the Durham University Business School website. I laid out my career aspirations and what I want to achieve out of my degree, and they were so helpful in steering me in the right direction. 

However, it is about more than just researching about the academics that is essential. You have to explore the College system at Durham (more about this in another blog post), the life at Durham, the weather – all the essentials of moving to another place. 

Reach out to people in Durham or generally in the UK to ask about what to expect living here. Ask them to share their wisdom with you. Imagine you have a twin sibling who has never experienced where you live – what kind of wisdom would you impart to them? Then, convert that into a question you would want to know about living in Durham and being a postgraduate at Durham University Business School.

Networking 

One way to gain different perspectives about life in Durham is to network with similar people on social media platforms. This networking can be a lifeline in understanding life here and settling in.

Once the term has started, consistently network with professors, module leaders, and seminar leaders – you never know what connection might come in handy! 

Take advantage of all the resources available

The Business School offers a wealth of resources, from guest speaker sessions throughout the school or in specific modules to career fairs divided by different industries like economics and finance or consultancy. A lot of well-known companies are part of it. 

Moreover, Durham University has a Careers Service with a special department for Business School students. You can book a meeting to discuss career options, CV and Cover Letter building, interview preparation, and general career advice in the UK. Find out more here.

You should book an appointment with them right from the induction week as they fill up fast. The portal also has relevant job postings according to your own preferences, so that’s another plus point! 

So this pretty much covers the academic and professional things I would have liked to know before starting my Masters, but now comes the socializing part – a part that intimidated me a lot more, but now 4 months in, I have the greatest group of friends ever with whom I have explored different countries with so with a little bit of effort, it could be you as well. 

Cultural shock and comfort zone 

The cultural shock in Durham slaps you like the cold wind on a December when you first land. However, as you get used to the cold, you get used to how things are different in Durham. You need to give yourself some time to adjust, as it is not an immediate shift. Don’t be worried that you’re not making friends fast enough. Or it is hard for you to come out of your comfort zone. 

Take it slow, find your bearings first, and find that sweet spot between cultural shock and a comfort zone where you can be yourself. 

Things that helped me were: 

  • Joining clubs, societies, and sports teams – As postgraduates, it is easy to get caught up in the job-academic race; however, this year is not just about that. Join societies like the Durham Hill Walking Society, which goes on hike trips every Saturday, or the Improv Society, or even the Drama Society – anything that floats your interests. Get out there and mingle! 
  •  Involvement in College events – As a Durham Student, you get assigned to a college, and depending on which one it is, you will have a lot of events like Formal Dinners, Karaoke Parties, and so much more. Do attend those! And don’t be afraid to approach people first; trust me, they also feel shy, so just make the first move. You might find your new best friend this way. 

Embrace solitude when needed 

While making friends and exploring the UK sounds magical, the postgraduate year might sometimes seem overwhelming with academic stress or missing home. Hence, it is essential that you are okay with being in your company. You need to spend as much time with yourself as possible because, trust me, I know so much more about myself in just 4 months of living in the UK. 

To wrap it up, my advice is to be proactive, make researched decisions, and don’t be too hard on yourself to have everything figured out right away. Embrace the journey with its highs and lows. 

Stay tuned for more blogs where I’ll dive deeper into various aspects of life as a postgraduate at Durham University Business School. Here’s to a fantastic and fulfilling postgraduate experience!

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Rammal Arif

Hi, I'm Rammal! I am a postgraduate student in Marketing at the Durham University Business School. I'm really passionate about challenging my creativity and expressing it through writing, creating and editing various forms of content. It is one of the reasons why I chose to study Marketing as a discipline.
I am on a hunt to find the beauty and excitement in the mundanity of life.

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