Just a silly fresh ranking my Durham preconceptions out of 10

Gone are the days when I thought ‘Dull’-ham was true

Ten weeks ago in a land far away I was but a pre-fresh, getting ready to embark on the most transformative journey of my life.

I swapped school dinners for college brunch, 9am starts for hangovers from Klute, and the comforts of home for the downright war that is walking along Church Street at rush hour. I believed Durham was boring, cold (I was right about this one), and impenetrably rah.

Silly pre-fresh me had no clue, and looking back, my preconceptions are hilariously misjudged, so for the benefit of the greater comedic good, I have ranked them for you out of how right I was.

1. Everyone is posh

Most people associate Durham with private school Oxbridge rejects who may or may not have just returned from finding themselves on their gap yah through South America.

Ranking: 3 / 10

It is true that some have come from private schools, and you will encounter your fair share of very posh accents (I have on many occasions heard an unironic ‘rah’ coming from the general Hatfield direction). However, obviously there are people here from all backgrounds, and I would say this specific student is a minority. And hey, if you get talking to one in a seminar you might realise you have more in common than you think (until they mention their villa in the south of France).

2. Poor nightlife

Before coming to Durham, my friends back home would torment me about the woeful nights out I was bound to have here compared to their wild nights in main cities.

Ranking: 4 / 10

Durham is small so clearly can’t offer as much as Liverpool or Manchester for example, but for what it has I think it does extremely well. That said, I do think the Durham night out experience is a unique one, especially for freshers. Pre-ing in the college pantries; heading out hoping there’s enough alcohol in your system so you don’t have to bring a jacket; and hitting Jimmy’s far too early so by the time it fills up you’re already on the come down and thinking of those curly fries and garlic mayo from Paddy’s. Being no further than a 25-minute walk from home is a major positive of clubbing here though.

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3. Every day is a fashion show

Deciding what clothes to pack before moving to uni was stressful to say the least, but not outfits for a night out. No, it was the lecture outfits.

Ranking: 9 / 10

Durham definitely does have a pretty specific fashion style, particularly down at Elvet Riverside (humanities students, what can I say). From the bouncy castle-esque parachute trousers, to the gilets, to the cashmere jumpers, to the rings. Oh god, the rings – multiple on every finger. And don’t even get me started on those thin bloody scarves. When you’re just trying to make your 9am after CCTV Wednesdays, wearing leggings and a hoody sounds pretty appealing. But no. Get that quirky sweater vest on.

4. Bailey vs Hill

Choosing your Durham college is a monumental decision; trying to gauge the vibes of each college from their website and from TikToks by current students. One major factor is whether to choose a Bailey or a Hill college. The stereotype goes that Bailey college residents are a bit posher than those on Hill.

Ranking: 7 / 10

In general, I would say this is true. There definitely is a bit of a divide – Bailey dwellers don’t really feel the need to leave the cocoon of the centre of town to venture up The Hill, which to them must feel as far away and out of the loop as Sunderland. Bailey bars also make you hand in your campus card when you’re crawling which adds an extra layer of intimidation.

While yes, Durham sometimes does deserve its reputation, that’s not all it is. I think that one Durfess sums it up pretty well: it’s all just a big inside joke.

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