Things you need to do in Durham before graduating

1. All-college bar crawls

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All-college bar crawls are quintessentially Durham. Where else can compete with 17 university bars to visit with the same student value? I have never braved such a feat; put off by the fear of downing 17 college drinks, before inevitably needing to be carried home. But this college bar crawl involves more for Durham students than just the alcohol beverages, it involves an extreme amount of planning, coordinating and stamina. With the latest bar being open until 12am, all colleges need to be hit from opening times, and the journey must be made all the way from Hild Bede to Ustinov. Someone must take control of ensuring the group hits all the places and when the time comes, this will fall to me.

The college bar crawl is, however, under threat. The university’s plan to expand at a rapid rate means that soon enough there may be 19, 20, 21 college bars to hit. I highly doubt that this will be feasible, if no college bars increase opening times and the bars are even more spread out. What was once a badge of honour for Durham students to hold may be another part of our universities’ uniqueness lost to the expansion plans that put at risk all what makes Durham so… Durham.

The university’s plan to expand at a rapid rate means that soon enough there may be 19, 20, 21 college bars to hit

But while this is not the case, with exams finally done, I will make the all-college bar crawl something I must achieve before I graduate. If not, can I realistically call myself a Durham student?

 

2. The Harry Potter Society’s Yule Ball

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The Harry Potter Society’s annual Yule Ball, marking an end to Michaelmas term, is definitely an event to tick off of the Durham bucket list. Taking place in Durham Town Hall, with countless students dressed in magical attire and, of course, gowns, it’s difficult not to feel as if you’ve been whisked off to Rowling’s magical world. Alongside a three course banquet sat in your Hogwarts’ houses, a magician even performs for you as you’re enjoying your meal. If this doesn’t sound magical enough, the evening entertainment features live performances of songs like ‘Do the Hippogriff’, which fans of the films will all too soon recognise.

Not only is it the most magical ball of Durham, the event raises money for the mental health charity Mind. It is in memory of Chloe Holt, who was President of the society in 2015, and who organised the first ever DU Harry Potter Society Yule Ball. The Yule Ball is a beautiful night of wizarding festivities, where you can attend Hogwarts for one night only, and is an unmissable experience. As Durham students we frequently compare our university to Hogwarts – from matriculating and graduating in the beautiful Cathedral, to our black gowns and house-esque College systems – experiencing our very own Yule Ball is not to be missed before graduating Durham.

 

3. The Many Small Things

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I think Durham’s ‘bubble’ is defined by the many small things that make the place feel both unique and homely. Experiencing these quirks gives me such a tender sense of belonging to this place and its people, and it really is making it difficult to part with.

One of the most basic things that you have to do once is a late Billy B study session. Not that I condone last minute cramming and not sleeping, but being in the library at 11:30pm, in solidarity with everyone else who is forcing themselves to complete their summatives is an experience of belonging. Exhausted, probably shaking from an overdose of caffeine and inevitably logging onto Facebook every 5 minutes for a ‘break’, then getting shocked awake by the way-too-loud announcements of ‘library services ceasing’, truly one hell of an experience.

Being in the library at 11:30pm, in solidarity with everyone else who is forcing themselves to complete their summatives is an experience of belonging

Other, less dreary things include a greasy Paddy’s (Patrick’s Pizza) at the end of a night out, because for some reason, at 2am it is always seems perfectly reasonable to wait an obscenely long time with a large mass of people for a ‘small curly fries with garlic sauce’. Or even the wholesome picnic on observatory hill that overlooks all of Durham, a small hill tucked away from the main roads and surrounded tranquil greenery.

The wholesome picnic on observatory hill that overlooks all of Durham

What I’ve begun to realise has been becoming a sort of tradition for Durham are the champagne showers at the end of last exams. As of this moment, I have yet to experience one for myself, but being a part of a mass of people waiting outside Elvet Riverside, Calman or Palace Green, eagerly anticipating the slightly distressed face of a friend, then ambushing them with a vigorously shaken bottle of prosecco and drenching them has to be up there in one of my favourite quintessential Durham things. It’s the spirit and the pure unadulterated joy and relief of having reached one of the biggest milestones of your entire life, and getting to celebrate with those who have been there with you through thick and thin.

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