By Clarissa Wemple, Second Year Psychology Undergraduate
As the Easter break reaches the start of its fourth week, and with open days having ended not too long ago, I couldn’t help but think back to when I was preparing to come to Durham about 2 years ago.
I remember being in a café catching up over lunch with a friend who had already been studying in the U.K. for about a year. When I told her that I was going to Durham, she told me that the pancakes at Flat White are amazing (Yes, they are. Yes, I’m basic.) and that Durham was literally just one street.
I’m a city-girl (born and raised), so the thought of having to live in a place for 3 years that was supposedly just “one street” kind of freaked me out.“One street?!”, I thought; and immediately, a whole list of items that I figured I would need to survive rushed through my mind.
Looking back almost 2 years later, I feel that I need to speak up about some of the things that I’ve brought along with me over to Durham and how useless they’ve been in my life so far.
So, for all you future Johnians reading this – and particularly international students like me – here are 5 things that I brought with me, halfway around the world, that I really shouldn’t have wasted luggage space and energy on.
1) Clothes Drying Rack
Don’t ask me why I brought this, but I did. I just figured that if Durham was going to be one street, and that if I was staying in college, that somehow I’d need to bring my own little clothes drying rack clip thing to dry my socks and underwear.
Well, if you’re thinking the same thing I did, then don’t bother. There are dryers in college that are a little iffy at times, but generally get the job done. (They’re free to use anyway – hurrah to free laundry in John’s!) Besides, there are probably radiators in your room where you can leave them for a while till they dry.
2) 10,000 Extra Copies of my Passport and BRP ‘just in case’
Don’t be a nerd like me – you really won’t need that many.
3) Tons of Clothes
I hate to admit it, but although I was warned multiple times by many people to pack as light as possible, I still brought over a lot of what was in my wardrobe back home.
Let’s be real, though. You’ll probably end up shopping at some point in your Uni days anyway. So, save yourself the trouble, and try to pack as light as you can. Although you’re only just coming into Uni, think about when you have to graduate and pay to ship all the clothes back on top of the clothes you would’ve bought during the 3/4 years in Uni. Also, if you’re like me, and you come from a place whose climate never allows for coats and much jumper use, try to invest in a few good pieces and stick to them.
You might not realise it, but even just a few books can add some serious weight to your luggage. While you might feel the need to want to get a head start and hit the ground running the moment you start school, most of what you bring will probably not be that essential to your course. Try to resist the urge of packing books, and buy what you need when you arrive in Durham. You can usually get great deals on textbooks from those in the year above you looking to sell their books. Also, just like the clothes, think about having to pack all the books back with you when you graduate (supposing you don’t manage to sell them/give them away). That doesn’t sound too fun does it?
5) Emotional Baggage
This sounds really sad and emo, but it is something all international students inevitably bring with them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly normal. Having to move away from home to another country is very scary. I was worried that I wouldn’t make any friends, that my friends back home would forget me, that I wouldn’t be able to deal with the pain of not seeing my family every day, etc. However, the best way to deal with this is to really not think about it at all. Leave it all at the door when you get onto that flight to the U.K. and think of it as a long holiday! (It really kind of is!) Once you immerse yourself in college life, start making friends with your corridor mates, and realise that everyone around you feels the same way, life away from home doesn’t seem as scary anymore. You have to remember that whatever you may be feeling is normal, and that your friends and family back home will not forget about you. For me, it really helped knowing that college and the Uni had many avenues of support that I could turn to if I needed help (i.e. Counselling services, college welfare services, etc.) and that a pastoral tutor and college parents were attached to me to help me transition into my first year smoothly.
Hopefully this helped you re-think your packing list and has gotten you even the slightest bit excited for your new life in Durham to come! I can promise you that these 3 years will be very unforgettable, and you’ll truly wonder where all the time went when you hit the end of your second year like me.
Congrats again on getting into St John’s and Durham University! See you around in college next year!
Heya! I’m Clarissa, a green-tea loving ENFJ who loves to read, horseback ride, and bake. If I’m not doing any of that, I’m probably binge-watching on ‘FRIENDS’ with cookie-dough ice cream and PJs on. I’m also on the John’s Welfare Events team so feel free to drop by during our events to say hi and have a little breather from Uni!