15 things every Durham fresher needs to know right now

You won’t find these in your welcome pack…


So, you’ve just got in to Durham Uni? Congrats, fresher. You earned it.

Now, you’re faced with a couple of months of pondering the enigma that is Durham student life. What’s the best nightclub? What’s everybody like? And for the love of God, where can I get a wrap meal deal for £4.95?

Well, don’t worry, because you’ve just clicked on a jumbo list of every trick and tip two well-experienced finalists have for you.

1. You’ll need to learn a dictionary’s worth of lingo

Durham Uni students love a good colloquialism. Pretty much everything here is shortened to make it sound like a friendly guy (e.g. The Bill Bryson Library = The Billy B) and we’re still using terms like “bop” that were around when your parents were young.

2. Jimmy’s smoking area is the place to be

When it comes to Durham, certain clubs are best on certain nights. However, one club that will never let you down is Jimmy Allen’s, which is always free entry and is packed every night. You’re especially guaranteed some good craic if you venture into the smoking area. Just remember that this won’t save you from having to listen to “Angels” on repeat.

3. Greggs is your new best friend

If you want to truly embrace Durham culture, you’ve got to get acquainted with the northern gem that is a Greggs sausage roll. Thanks to living and breathing Greggs, Geordies have put one on every street in the North East, so chances are it’ll be the closest place to go whenever the pangs of hunger strike.

4. Not every stereotype is true

Whilst it’s definitely true that Durham Uni attracts a certain type of student, you shouldn’t worry too much about stereotypes. Most people here actually aren’t posh and not every conversation I had in freshers revolved around which Oxbridge college I was rejected from.

5. Having said that, you should probably buy a skinny scarf

Love them or hate them, the skinny scarf is simply part of the winter uniform at Durham now, alongside a classic North Face puffer. They keep your neck warm the perfect amount and something about them just screams Durham Uni student.

6. You won’t know how to write essays

– and I still don’t. Seriously, this Uni loves to let us take stabs in the dark when in comes to academics. The only advice you should expect in regards to writing essays is not to do it the way you already know. What goes in a first class humanities essay is truly a mystery, and I’m not sure the tutors even know themselves.

7. You won’t know how to work the printers either

The enrolment process will give you a taste of Durham Uni’s genuinely baffling ICT, but even this can’t prepare you for the frustration of having to enter a two-digit number every time you want to read an email. Sharepoint, Banner, and Blackboard are platforms which honestly mock my intelligence and make me question my place at this Uni.

8. Bus chaos on North Road is no joke

If you’re one of many freshers who has come to Durham from London, an escapade up North Road will probably seem like a walk in the park to you. However, if like me, you’re from the sticks, an escapade up North Road will probably be a traumatising experience. You’ve been warned.

9. Everyone will see your ID picture

You’re probably thinking it really doesn’t matter what your ID picture looks like, right? Wrong! Your campus card is like a golden ticket in this place, and they’re demanded at every corner. My ego genuinely depletes whenever I see that sullen face looking back at me on every bar crawl, during every college meal, and every time I attempt entry into a Uni building.

10. Never underestimate the walk to the train station

It’s just such a big monster of a hill, that’s all.

11. Lebaneat all the way

If you find yourself fancying a takeout having blown your student loan during freshers week, allow us to introduce you to Durham’s finest cuisine, the Lebaneat meal deal that runs from Sunday to Thursday. You can get yourself a wrap and a side all for £4.95. What more could you ask for.

12. Your academic advisor will be a stranger at best

On the inevitable occasion that you’ll need to be academically advised, the Uni will have sorted someone for the job. However, academic advisors are notoriously left unused. Chances are you’ll find more solace on that annoying course group chat you’ve already joined than from the evasive figure that is your academic advisor.

13. Market Square Tesco is a social occasion

Due to the painful lack of supermarkets in Durham city centre, nearly every fresher opts for the Market Square Tesco to get their daily bread. This means that without a doubt you will see nearly everyone you know every time you go there. Got a preference for a bland meal deal? Better start spicing things up love, because no one wants to be clocked buying a ham sandwich, ready salted crisps, and a bottle of water.

14. Beware of the sharks

Not the literal ones, obviously. This isn’t Sunderland. These sharks are much scarier. Second and third years take to the toon every fresher’s week with one aim: to pull a fresh. It’s safe to assume that they’ve been unsuccessful with the singletons in their own year, so are nearly always faulted in a minor or major way. It isn’t worth the free VK, trust me.

15. Locals night is for the locals

Whilst I encourage every fresher to go out as much as possible, I will have failed you if I didn’t alert you to the fact that Durham is a different city on a Saturday night. Families of tourists turn in to pissed up parties, Walkergate begins to look like the arena in The Hunger Games, and the quaint city you decided to study in is but a distant memory.