The Low-Down on Living Out

From Two Second Years Who’ve Been There

By Emily Griffiths and Freya Butler

So, you’re worried about living out? Don’t worry, so were we.

After signing our 10 bed house in Gilesgate in first term of first year, we then had 10 whole months before moving in to consider what we had done. It’s fair to say we started second year with a few concerns.

Here’s what we’ve learnt.

Photo Credit: Michael Baker

Life after Duchess Potatoes

Returning to Durham for second year, it dawned on us that we would have to become ‘proper uni students’ in the sense that we would not have the safety net of three cooked meals a day, seven days a week. Having survived to at least halfway through Michaelmas feeding ourselves, we thought we might be in a relatively good position to share some of our thoughts on how to make the most of the self-catered life!

  • New year, new you. If you’ve been thinking of making some healthy lifestyle changes, having to feed yourself is a great way to be more mindful of what you are eating. You can decide what you eat and when you eat it – providing you with the freedom to try out new food and master those classic student dishes.
  • Organisation is key. If you plan your meals for the week and do one big shop at the weekend, going home to cook after a 5pm lecture becomes much less of a hassle. By knowing ahead of time what you’re going to eat during the week, this would allow you to make use of supermarket deals – bulk buying goods which will be used frequently and splitting the cost between your housemates is a great way to save some money.
  • But first, brunch. Living out means being free of the guilt of going out for food and skipping prepaid college meals. You can also cook meals as a group and host dinner parties to celebrate a special occasion. We’re currently day-dreaming of our house Christmas dinner in a couple of weeks!
Photo Credit: Michael Baker

Housemate Tension

The next big worry that we faced was the possible future tension within our house. Here’s how we are surviving:

  • Rota! This applies to both food and chores. If you make clear what is expected of everyone in the house, (e.g. with a timetable laying out everyone’s chores week by week), this reduces the risk of miscommunication! That also means living in a much tidier and more harmonious house.
  • Honesty is the best policy. If there’s an issue, don’t be afraid to bring it up in a peaceful manner. You can even call a group meeting to be sure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Burst the bubble. Maintain friendships outside of the house to add some perspective to any petty dramas that may be unfolding at home.
Photo Credit: Michael Baker

Once a Johnian, Always a Johnian

Just because you’re not living within the blue maze that is John’s, it doesn’t mean you’re any less of a Johnian. Remember that you’re always welcomed within college, and that you are as valued as any other member of our community. Here’s some tips on how to maintain your passion for John’s whilst living out:

  • Attend college events. From our experience, events within college feel much more special now that we can’t just wander down the corridor and instead, have to go through the process of planning, getting excited about an event with friends, and then making our way back to college for the event. We promise Bailey Ball is just as fun when you’re not a fresher (and the walk back home in heels at 5am is just one more unforgettable memory!).
  • Long-time no see. Although it may seem sad not to be surrounded by your year group every day, it definitely feels like you’ve come home when you walk into college and bump into a bunch of familiar faces that you haven’t seen in weeks.
  • Make use of college support. College is aware of livers-out naturally feeling some level of separation. They will therefore make an effort to include livers-out whenever they can! For example, by reserving formal places for livers-out every week and always welcoming anyone from any year to Welfare events.
Photo Credit: Michael Baker

Bailey Blues

Living out is quite a contrast to living on the Bailey, with everything you could possibly need on your doorstep. Living in Gilesgate, we understand that it can sometimes seem really inconvenient to live out. We, therefore, seem well-qualified to reassure you that living a distance away from the city centre is definitely not the end of the world.

  • Fresh air. It’s nice to have a walk, even if it’s just to wake you up before a 9am.
  • Peace and quiet. As you’re probably aware, Uni life can get a bit stressful and hectic. The physical and mental distance between where you work and where you live is not as obvious when you’re living in college and can sometimes seem non-existent. To have a space separated from the university to come back home to can help to clear your head.
  • Study spaces. Although you may live far away from the cosiness of the college library, there are plenty more study spaces to discover in your second year. For Gilesgaters, Leazes Road is the new Billy B. You can also try studying in cafes if you live close to town – Vennels is our personal go to.
  • Gilesgate isn’t that bad. Big Tesco is ‘like being in France’ according to one of our housemates. (We don’t understand either.) Jokes aside, Big Tesco means more options and therefore, more adventurous, fun cooking experiences at lower prices! It also has a travellator, which is pretty cool.

Finally, if you’re secretly tired of your college room being the designated hang-out spot, the lounge in your new house will give you a break from constantly trying to make sure your room is tidy enough for everyone to fit in. And, if you’re lucky, one of your housemates will bring along their Nintendo Wii, creating the perfect procrastination tool for second year. (You’ve been warned – Mario Kart will definitely show your housemates’ true colours!)

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