The other day I came across a Twitter thread titled ‘Uni survival guide for all freshers’. Written by a ‘pandemic graduate’, the list proved an interesting read and featured advice of varying accuracy: you will gain weight (true), don’t bring heels (false), don’t sleep with your housemates (gospel). However, rather than the content, what struck me was the confidence with which the author was able to dispense such advice.
I suppose I could be described as a ‘pandemic finalist’ and while I could offer my two pennies worth of Durham-related tips and tricks (crucially: pack layers, the north is cold), the truth is that I feel more akin to a ‘silly fresh’ than a finalist. I’m still overcome with a slight sense of dread when entering the Billy B and still haven’t mustered the courage to join Overheard, despite losing my campus card more times than is acceptable for a (generally) competent person.
I’m sure many ‘pandemic finalists’ – and ‘pandemic second years’ for that matter – are the same in this regard. Put simply, we just haven’t had the university experience we were expecting. Having to navigate two rounds of security in the TLC is now as (if not more) familiar to us than being asked for ID at Jimmy’s. The inside of a testing centre is now more recognisable than that of our department building. Such descriptions would be incomprehensible to a 2019 graduate, but that doesn’t render our university experience any less valid; in fact, I would argue the opposite is true.
With a bit of good fortune, the start of this new academic year will hopefully mark the end of these pandemic-isms. As I reluctantly enter my final year here, I’m reminded of my hockey friend Liv, who was a third year when I first joined the team. She claimed to have a ‘fresher outlook on life’ and was always the first to arrive and last to leave every social and training session. Where possible, I think we should all embrace a similar attitude this year. Spare us another Zoom social – let’s experience Durham’s eccentricity in all its in-person glory.
In this vein, this ‘freshers’ edition of Indigo is devoted to all things Durham and is designed not only for new students but also for returners looking to make the most of all that the university has to offer. And there’s a lot. On pages 8 and 9 we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to the best events scheduled for this term, chosen by our wonderful Indigo section editors. There are some real gems here, including the ‘Museum of the Moon’ exhibition at the cathedral, reviewed on page 16 by Visual Arts.
Continuing with the ‘freshers’ theme, pages 3, 12 and 13 feature book and film recommendations based on student life, while Food and Drink offer some tried and tested freshers flu remedies on page 9. If you are interested in getting involved with Palatinate, turn to page 10 for an interview with our Editors-in-Chief and Indigo Editors. Also, keep an eye out for our upcoming freshers social where you can chat with current members of the editorial board.
We hope you enjoy the edition and that it proves useful in some respect. Perhaps, after reading, you’ll even be tempted to write your own Twitter thread.
Illustration: Sophie Draper