Living in St John’s College is an unforgettable experience. The Covid-19 did not stop any wonderful moments from happening. Though many activities had to be suspended for the sake of people’s health, the College and students still managed to hold all kinds of online events to convey care, love, and gratitude to each other. Within households there were also many activities, like birthday and holiday celebrations, going some way to living a normal life under an unusual time like the pandemic.
Daily life: waken by the beautiful sunshine on the Bailey.
I am Gloria. My household is located on the North Bailey, and only a few minutes’ walk away from the city centre. From the windows of some rooms, I often can see Durham’s stunning cathedral in the scarlet sunshine in the morning. That’s how my morning starts usually.
There is a spacious courtyard full of diverse plants and blooms all year round. It is a good place for leisure and recreation, especially during the quarantine. For example, my housemates and I sometimes played board games and sports there. When I got homesick, I would invite some friends from my household bubble to have a Chinese hot pot together in the garden, which was an effective treatment for my homesickness. Yep! I have a household bubble, which is 10 South Bailey. We became housemates during the Christmas holiday. Since then, my daily life has become more colourful. For example, we had snowball fights in the cold and lovely snowy days. We even played hide and seek in the intricate layout of our houses. So, thanks to the Covid-19, I made more good friends.
Celebrations: small and big
I am Joanna, from 10 South Bailey. Coronavirus failed to kill my house’s enthusiasm for hosting events small and big.
The best thing this year was that I did not miss anyone’s birthday. I do not know if it was a coincidence. It seemed like every month there was birthday, making the indoor covid life full of joy. But I will only show you one picture from these memorable birthdays, as happy moments were countless.
This is my housemate Vivien’s birthday. On her birthday, my bubble housemates and I had a picnic in the garden. We prepared sandwiches and made tiramisu as the birthday cake. There were also music and dancing. Though it was a small event, it brought me great happiness.
We also successfully celebrate big holidays.
These are pumpkin lanterns we made in Halloween. It was my first time making a pumpkin lantern. I worried a lot before I started making it. However, it was a success.
I could not forget the Chinese New Year party as well. Somehow, my housemates and I turned the party into a cooking festival. Everyone cooked their favourite food and shared it with other people. I guess that’s the real spirit of Chinese New Year: sharing and companionship.
College’s care: making life full of academic fun
An indispensable part of postgraduate life is studying. The college makes studying life full of fun.
The MasterChef competition is a good example. Though it is a cooking competition, by cooking according to the themes set by College, our knowledge about different ingredients, cultures and countries has dramatically increased. Therefore, MasterChef is such a good activity for learning.
Apart from helping students learning from fun events, the College allocates students a College Mentor, providing support for students’ wellbeing. The Postgraduate Tutor, Miro also supports academic performance with his academic drop-in sessions. After a whole year, it is easy to say “oh, I have got so many skills – applying for a PhD, writing a proper CV and managing my dissertation’s progress”.
Many thanks to St John’s!
Post-lockdown life: experiencing Durham through outdoor activities
After the lockdown, visiting bars has become an integral part of my College life. Sometimes on the weekends I would settle down at one of the bars by the bridge, order my favourite drink and chat with my housemates, being touched by the gentle breeze from the river.
The other perfect thing I love is taking a walk along the river. If I’m lucky enough, I come across Durham’s rowers paddling in the water. When it came to the Euro 2020, I was often welcomed by the cheers of the people gathered across the river.
Undoubtedly, what I experienced is the dynamism of Durham as a city and as a University.
By Gloria Lu and Joanna Li