Capturing Durham on camera

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As Epiphany term returns to the Durham circle of life and online lectures, over the holidays, Interview caught up with some of the student body’s vloggers and internet personalities to discuss how they depict uni life in their videos and whether content creation for them is second nature.

Tom Daniel [first on the left], 1st Year (@t0mdaniel – TikTok):  “At first, I thought like a lot of people that TikTok was cringy, but when lockdown set in and all my mates were uploading videos I thought that I had nothing better to do with myself so I gave it a try and made a couple of videos. Now, it’s turned into what it is today. In general, I’ve tried to highlight some of the daily stuff in uni life that people could relate to like the drinking culture and showcasing some Durham specific stereotypes in a funny way. Since my videos are quite short, people often under them with questions about Durham University, especially about college life. To be honest, I don’t have an upload schedule so it’s not that difficult to manage creating videos. They’re really spur of the moment ideas.” 

Megan Jones [second from left], 4th Year (Megan J – YouTube): “I started making videos at the start of 2017 and have been posting at least one video most weeks ever since. Before coming to university, I saw lots of studytubers having amazing times at university and everyone tells you it’s the time of your life. I didn’t feel like that when I came to university. Instead, I felt isolated and was completely overwhelmed with the situation. So, I share this side of university life too because I know that it is a common experience. “I think the main part of my YouTube is showing the more realistic side of uni life — both the highs and the lows. I believe it is helpful, both for prospective students, so they’re not setting themselves unrealistic expectations and end up overwhelmed, but also for current students who may already be struggling and can see they’re not alone.

“Also, I share some helpful tips, coming from a working-class area and state school, about what to wear for formals or the difference between a ball or a bop since these were not common knowledge to me. Any kind of practical advice I can think of, I always try to make a video on. My main thinking when it comes to Durham videos is ‘what would have helped past me?’ I was already doing weekly videos during Sixth Form, so I felt like I was prepared to juggle the two when I started at uni. Though I’ll admit I have struggled since Covid with all the uncertainties and lockdowns – this past year has been the only time since 2017 where I’ve had to take a few weeks off YouTube now and again.”

Whilst you have to work hard, you can also have the time of your life

Hollie Rose [second from right], 2nd Year (Hollie Rose – YouTube):  “I started off posting some poetry and book-related videos in late 2020 but evolved to making the content I post now more consistently since June 2021 during my gap year. As I prepared for university, I made a video about getting ready to leave for Durham so, the focus grew from there. In my videos, I attempt to display the daily aspects of Durham University life as I experience them – from Freshers Week and socials to the stress of deadline season and the struggles of writing academic essays.  

“My main focus has been on showcasing the experiences that I’m living, like participating in cheerleading and attending college events. I don’t go out of my way to orchestrate situations for my vlogs. Instead, I hope that viewers can watch my content and know that there are so many different things to do at uni, especially at a place like Durham which has a lot of preconceptions around it. I want to show that whilst you have to work hard, you can also have the time of your life.”

Tristan Stocker [first on the right], 2nd Year (Tristan Stocker – YouTube): “I have always been interested in video editing and creating content. I first started making videos whenever I went on holiday — I would film the whole trip and put together little montages with music and effects. Initially, I was nervous about being in front of a camera but, with A-Levels being cancelled, I had loads of time and decided to start making content about preparing to study law and that’s how my channel began. 

“When I was beginning to look for videos about Durham University, especially for Hatfield, they were often quite old and few in numbers so, I figured things must have changed since then. I think my videos such as the room tour in college have helped in answering some of those questions students have about the wider experience of Durham – especially for those trying to decide on university choices. For people who live abroad, trying to find this stuff out is even harder. At the Hatfield Michaelmas Ball, someone recognised me from YouTube and told me they had watched my videos in Japan! So online videos about university life are hugely valuable since not everyone has the chance to see Durham in person before they go.

“For me, content creating is not a huge burden on my life. I organise video ideas on a list then prioritise and date them. So, I have a sort of vague chart of when videos should be coming out. ‘Day in the Life’ videos are the easiest for me since you only need to film a couple of minutes every hour. As long as I have something to record, whether it’s a camera or phone, then it’s no problem. The hardest part is the editing, the whole process beyond the filming, beyond what people see in the video. That is the most difficult and the most time-consuming task. Even so, it is always satisfying to see a finished video.”

Images credits: Tom Daniel, Megan Jones, Hollie Rose & Tristan Stocker via Instagram

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