Being an International Fresher at Durham: Tips and tricks

Yes, do bring those packets of Indomee and Milo

With the start of Michaelmas term drawing in fast and international travel bans starting to be lifted, it’s definitely time we gave some advice to the international Freshers who are joining us this year in Durham. We can’t wait to meet you all and for you to fall in love with Durham just as we did. To help you bridge the gap between home and Durham here are The Tab Durham’s 6 tips for international Freshers.

It might feel daunting and different but that’s okay!

Going to university and starting a new chapter of your life is daunting to everyone. Now add on the pressure of moving a thousand miles from home with an entirely different culture, you would be strange if you weren’t a little scared by this (well at least I was) and that’s totally valid. But remember that you’re not alone! Everyone is in the same boat whether they’re five or five thousand miles away from home, this is a new experience for everyone and I can guarantee you that everybody just wants to make friends. Take every opportunity you can and make the most of it, you will love Durham in the end.

Join new things, make new friends! 

The Winter Ball at my college

Uni and college is full of societies and opportunities you can join, ranging from sports, careers, welfare, events, charities, and some activities I’d never even heard of back home (Biscoff toast in a kitchen with Hatfielder’s at 1 am was a game changer for me). So step out of your comfort zone and you’ll find new experiences and amazing friends, British people are overwhelmingly nice ( even when you can’t understand their slang sometimes) and will always welcome you if you make the effort to get involved.

Make time for yourself & your own well-being

Being an international Fresher essentially means you’re experiencing 2 freshers weeks as us internationals arrive a bit earlier than everyone else. Although it is undoubtedly fun, this can be very draining so do remember to check in on yourself. It’s perfectly fine to skip a couple of events to catch up on your sleep or general well-being and the same can be said throughout your time at Durham, not just Fresher’s Week.

Despite British people not actually expecting an answer when they ask if you’re alright? (weird I know) each college have supportive student and staff lead Welfare Teams who are there to discuss anything that may be on your mind from not knowing your way round town to not feeling like you have made any close friends, please remember that there is always someone to talk to.

Stay connected with friends and family from home

Feeling a little homesick is totally normal, or being so busy with university life that you don’t actually have time to feel homesick. But staying close to friends and family from home really helped me. Sometimes a 20-minute video call with your mum and pet cat or your best friend from home can go a long way and they will definitely want to hear exactly what you’re up to in Durham.

Please (please) bring snacks from home

Secure the bag

Probably the most important tip here. I can’t even begin to explain the lifesaver that is Tom Yum noodles and Fish Crackers in my Room Drawer after a week of roast potatoes and (very) dry chicken from the college dining hall. Food is just completely different here and as much as I love trying new things, isn’t that what this whole Uni thing is about? It is definitely important to have your home comforts to get you through.

Depending on which part of the world you’re from there will be places that you can get your favourite native snacks such as the Everyday Oriental Food shop on Silver Street or the world foods aisle on the big Tesco in Gilesgate.

You’ll have lots of fun!

Yes, being an international fresher might seem daunting and overwhelming at first, don’t get me wrong I still miss home sometimes but trust me, it’ll be worthwhile because you will have so much fun! You will come to love Durham and see it as a second home, even missing it when you fly back to your native country for holidays. The people are what make Durham so special and you’re bound to make lifelong friends that you class as your second family.

Good luck and enjoy it!