As I sit here, gazing out of my window, inhaling the Essexian-air, that contrary to popular belief, is not a concoction of fake tan, perfume and desperation, I can’t help but stare at my ‘Trevelyan College’ mug, sitting bold as brass on my window sill, taunting me.
It would be an understatement to say that my year of studying at Durham University was delightful, challenging, incredible, and a little surreal, after all, it is a magical cobbled ‘city’ stuffed with friendly Geordies, intricate cafes, and pristine colleges….oh, how I miss it.
So. Instead of dwelling too much on where I *could* be right now (PHD anyone?), I decided to comprise a list of the favourite, select things that my year in Durham taught me, but don’t you worry, I’m not going to burst into the histories of Shelley, Wordsworth, and Langston Hughes,
I’m not that sad, I’ve got an accordion to go and learn. (Seriously).
12. Durham is as pretty as the pictures you see
Trudging through the snow, sleet, wind, rain, and hail may create picturesque Durham to appear a tad greyer, but it does not detract from its historical charm. The cobbles may be dire for anyone willing to wear 5 inch heels out to Loveshack one evening, but this is not Coronation Street. Durham is a warm, (not temperature-wise, this isn’t the Bahamas), friendly, bustling, city whose embrace leaves you with a rosy glow in your cheeks even a month after you part. Think Pot Noodle hug in a mug, but bigger, and less…wet, and you’re nearly there.
11. It basically is Hogwarts
The sheer urge to bellow ‘TROLLLLL….IN THE DUNGEON’ during the Matriculation ceremony (every student goes through this in the Cathedral) is too much to bear at times, but, give it time, after a few months, and you’ll be whisking your guests and visitors around the cathedral talking about *that* corridor, and *that famous office*, there’s no way you can avoid it. Sure, there may be no Draco Malfoy (believe me, I searched high and low), but there are a lot of goblins, and that’s just the people you find in Jimmy As!
10. If you don’t love Klute automatically, by the end of your studies, you will
Okay, okay, okay. I know you’re sitting there thinking ‘but Clare HATED Klute, what the hell is she on about?’, well, if you are, ten points to Slytherin, you’re semi-right. I loathed Klute at first, I think I wrote a status branding all freshers comatose on blue WKDs as ‘morons’, and hey, if you saw them, you’d agree. And yet, fast forward about 7 months, and four ‘quaddies’ (Liverpool people take note, it’s no longer about the quadvod) later, and you’ll see yourself gracing the Klute dancefloor with your equally inebriated chums, competing in Dance-offs, crying to Friends, and singing PSY a bit too loudly (is there such a thing?)
9. College bars are FAB
Despite the use of me using the word ‘fab’, some of the most disastrous but incredible evenings of my time in Durham were spent in college bars, predominantly Trevelyan bar *roars of college support* Whether you’re after an ‘under-a-ship’ feeling located in John’s bar, ‘wining and dining, dahling’ in Castle, or ‘next time you go to the toilet, take this leek with you’ in St. Cuths, I stress that this did actually happen to me, Durham has a home of alcoholic delights for all, (non alcoholic too, obvs). Think of disney land, but for adults..and fewer caricature mice, and more googly eyed students.
8. You haven’t lived until you’ve attended a Formal
Now, I know you are sensing a pattern emerging. Alcohol, night out, alcohol, night in bar, alcohol, formal dinner. But i’d be lying If i left this out of my list, as they were a big part of the Durham student culture, and rightly so! Formals were some of the highlights of my year, it enabled me to meet new people (and enjoy making a racket with well acquainted people), visit different colleges for formals, and even to stand on the tables in Castle..but keep that between us, yeah?
Which leads me pleasantly on to
7. How to down a bottle of wine before a starter
Now, if you knew me in Liverpool you would know that I am a fan of the odd beverage, and who isn’t? However. This is nothing compared to some of the expectations of formal behaviour. When the Prof’s around, it’s a bottle of wine to yourself, when the Prof isn’t around, it’s a bottle of wine to yourself, when there’s no one else around, it’s a bottle of wine to yourself. Just make sure you don’t sit with your glass swinging around off the table….you’ll be greeted with her majesty in the bottom of your glass.
6. How to embrace the college vibe
One of, if not, the most special element of my time in Durham was living in college. I was fortunate enough in Liverpool to experience living in halls, living in a 10 bedroom house in what felt like the middle of nowhere, and then in a smaller house in the central hub of all things student, but the most enjoyable part of my year in Durham was living with so many like-minded people in an incredible environment. Sure, the light may take 13253636 hours to come on in J ground’s toilet, but learning to live with so many outstanding individuals made having a less-than-ideal kitchen far more bearable. Trevelyan college members, if you’re reading this, this is down to you. *insert heart emoticon, smiley face, love-eyed face, tongue face here*
5. There are not as many ‘Rahs’ as you think
I’m not exactly the most well spoken of folk, init. I must admit that I feel a little ashamed when I feel how nervous I was about attending Durham simply for my ‘less van kween’s inglish, aksent’ and being surrounded by what I envisaged being ridiculously well spoken, lardy-dah human beings who would instantly take a disliking to me. How.unfair. I get annoyed when anyone else prejudges Durham students, but I was definitely one of them. I’ve learned that actually it was not a reflection of how negative I thought they’d be, but rather how insecure I was in my own self. (This is the only deep point, promise)
4. It’s not about how long you’ve known someone, but how well you know them
Having lots of people around me, lots of friends to chat to, laugh with, and go on late night Tesco trips (Nina, this is you) has always been an ideal of mine. Leaving Liverpool was hard, and it left me incredibly sad to say goodbye (what actually is more like adieu) to my friends of three years, and imagine making new pals in a new, smaller, quainter place. However, I sit here, with an arm’s length list of new favourite people in my life, and thank whoever is in charge that St Andrews stopped running their Romantic Victorian course for 12-13, because it meant i’d be meeting some of my good friends on my English MA in Durhz. I also am grateful for whatever circumstance led me to being plonked in Trevelyan college, a prison-appearance place with incredibly friendly inmates, I would not change it for the world.
3. If you have a tattoo of the Subway logo, you’ll get free Subway food
One of my favourite highlights, finding someone who actually had a tattoo of the sandwich chain. Not a lot more to be said here really, I wonder if David Mitchell will befriend me If I get a tattoo of his face on my…
2. Funny things will happen to you if you surround yourself with funny people
Jumping into a cupboard shouting ‘NARNIA’, ending up near Scotland when you’re just going on an impromptu ‘beach trip’, lying face down hungover in the corridor only to be laughed at by the cleaner, and, waking up in the shower face down with your duvet at 4am, only happens when you’re in a fun place. Man, Durham was fun.
1. 2012-13 will be the best year of your life
One final thing I learnt? NOBODY wants to study poems! ‘Raise your hand if you’re doing the MA Studies in Poetry’….*crickets sound, tumbleweed blows past* ‘oh, just me?..wonderful(!)’
For now, I think I have summed up pretty much the reasons why this past year will be one to remember, and if you’re from Durham and you’re reading this and got to the end, firstly, well done – you deserve a medal for perseverance and patience, but secondly, thank you – for the best year of my life. At 22, there are still plenty of opportunities for amazing years, experiences and friendships, but right now, I’m bloody content with the last 12 months.
Who knows, maybe I’ll do it all again and do a PHD (I hear my Mum and Dad cry with fear and hide all the credit cards)
S ‘ n S xx