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Durham is the best student city in the UK, 5 reasons why

Think Durham tries to imitate Oxford and Cambridge? Think again

Emma Yeo
Monday 14 December 2015 17:20 GMT
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Durham University
Durham University

On a bleak morning in early October, hundreds of new students flocked towards Durham. Along the roads into the city, colourful banners were tied to overpass bridges. At the train station, members of each college waited greet the freshers. Many will fall in love with the city, this academic year, right from their first glance of the cathedral looming over the horizon.

As a second-year student, with half my time in Durham behind me, I’m already envious of those who are yet to arrive. I’m convinced the city is the best place to be a student - and here’s why:

1) It’s a small city

With a population of less than 100,000, familiar faces are everywhere you look. When I organised an open mic night, friends of friends were in the audience. On bleary-eyed library visits, you’ll spot coursemates stressing over the same essay. Even if you are hundreds of miles from home, it’s hard to feel alone when people you know are around every corner.

2) The college system

Freshers’ is a blur of activity from the moment you arrive in Durham. You’ll be greeted by cheering freps and shown to your room. Perhaps you will be sharing a room with a stranger who may soon be one of your best friends. My room in first year was in a Georgian townhouse opposite the cathedral where, when I opened my windows, I could hear the bells.

Of course, the college system is about more than just the room you live in. My closest friends in first year were those I met in college. On Chad’s Day, we all headed down the Bailey wearing green face paint and banging pans. We went to pub quizzes, attended college balls, and some of us even went on holiday together.

3) It’s in a perfect location

The city is perfectly located to allow day trips to Northumberland, Yorkshire - and even Scotland. Only a few days ago, I went to Edinburgh with the History Society, visiting Edinburgh Castle and the Christmas markets. Closer to home, the clubs of Newcastle are only twelve minutes away by train.

4) There’s no such thing as ‘Doxbridge’

Durham has a bit of a reputation for trying to imitate Oxford and Cambridge. Thankfully, there is less reality in this than you might think. We aren’t taught in colleges, only some of us wear gowns, and there is plenty of time to get involved in everything you’d like to. The work can be hard, with Durham right at the top of the league tables for some subjects, but there is plenty of time for fun too.

5) You might fall in love

If nothing else persuades you of how amazing Durham is, this might: you are very likely to fall in love here. It is said that over 70 per cent of Durham students will marry each other. One of the fellows at my college often recounts tales of how he met his wife here decades ago. With ‘college marriages’ and countless balls throughout your time here, there is romance in the air.

Twitter: @EmmaYeo_

Emma Yeo is a history student at Durham University. She is creative editor at The Bubble and has written for other student publications including Palatinate and The Tab

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