To Durham and beyond

Malavika Pillai

I am Malavika Pillai, an international student completing my MA in English Studies at Durham University.

I spent years adoring the idyllic landscapes in Victorian novels, and finally, I found myself nestled in one. I had come far from the bustling metropolis back home in India to Durham, a quaint city with a vibrant allure.

With the ambitions of being a global citizen, I left home to embrace a career in the UK away from everything familiar and comfortable. I dreaded having to relocate to a foreign land, all alienated and frozen in its chilling winters and moody rains.

To my fortune, I have since met delightfully warm people greeting me with utmost familiarity and affinity. Right from moving my bags into my room to helping me sort out dinner, I had a helping hand through it all. I might’ve been lost a dozen times in my college last week alone but there was always a friendly face to ensure I found my way back! I was in absolute awe of the support I garnered from the very first day here. Be it the freps or the staff, I had found a community committed to making this novel journey every bit smooth and welcoming.

As soon as I settled in, I set out to visit the famed cathedral that crowns the city. The celebrated Durham Cathedral incited a surge of nervous excitement in me. I was both fascinated by its majesty and also eclipsed by its glorious shadow. The more I learnt of its riveting history, the further I was drawn into its wondrous charm.

Durham Cathedral

My adventures with the city continued as I remained fascinated by its scenic alleys with the ever-wafting smell of coffees and croissants. While exceptionally serene, this city was animated by the teeming energy of us students. I then visited the Whitechurch Freehouse cafe, one such picturesque cafe thronged by students. Here at this boho-chic cafe, I met some of my friends and now it is one of my favourite hang-out spots in the city.

While I was unnerved by the endeavour of starting this new life, the freshers’ activities kept me on my toes. Be it the Freshers’ Fair with sports societies or academic groups, I was baffled by the slew of opportunities at this mega event. Through this fair, I was truly initiated to the best of student life that this university has to offer.

Then came the Matriculation day, a day I will remember for years to come. During the ceremony, I was overcome by a multitude of emotions as I was finally inducted into this coveted university. Though overwhelmed, I was thrilled by the anticipation of a future nurturing a sense of belonging and fostering new traditions.

In search of what inspires the extraordinary, I am here at Durham University, ecstatic to envision myself a home away from home.

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Malavika Pillai

Malavika is an international student completing her MA in English Studies at Durham. She also work at Durham Students' Union as a Digital Content Creator.

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