If you are an international student you’re probably aware that despite its amazing reputation in the UK, Durham University isn’t very well known abroad. Whenever I’m back home and someone asks me where I go to Uni, I answer already prepared and knowing I’ll have to follow up with “No it really does exist” and “I swear it’s even one of the really good ones”. As a result, something a Fresher who’s done a little research would know, only 17.3% of Durham University is made up of international students (says: thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk). According to Durham Uni’s own Summary Statistics on Nationality for 2016-2017, there are literally only 7 students from my own country (Brazil) within 13,486 undergraduates.
Despite this, there is good news! You will never feel alone amongst a crowd of locals, especially at Hatfield, because the international community that we create, while not being massive, is really tight-knit and special, and I say this from personal experience. There are systems in place across the university to bring international people closer together. I’ve somehow managed to already meet half of the Brazilians in under a year! At Hatfield, the international fresher’s journey begins half a week before the first day of Fresher’s Week even begins and the international community will be the first friends you will make here at University. Even when you eventually spread across into different friendship groups throughout the year, you will always be able to count on them for anything.
International Fresher’s “Week” at Hatfield is the perfect time for you to find your groundings and get settled. Since you’re only allowed one or two suitcases on an international flight, packing everything I needed was an impossible task (even when I used up 50% of the suitcase my dad packed when he came with). This week is a great time to go around town and collect everything you might be missing to really make your dorm feel like your new home while sightseeing and finding your bearings a little bit at the same time. Like me, you may decide to take a little day trip to Newcastle and maybe hit up the IKEA. Basically, you’ll have a really useful and stress-free time to get yourself ready for the year to come, as well as some pressure-free and less intensive bonding with a few students before the flood of freshers on Sunday.
Last year, there were some great highlights such as the Thanksgiving and Chinese New Year International Formals, followed by a swell time at the Hatfield bar and a guaranteed great night out at Jimmy’s. The biggest Hatfield event of the year, the Lion in Winter Ball, had an international theme of ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, meaning we do get a good representation within the Hatfield community. This year, the Senior International Representatives (Christina Dahl Anderson and I) plan to make the International community at Hatfield almost like one of its many societies, including lots of really fun social experiences. You could also get further involved by applying for the Junior International Representative role and helping us make the experience as great as possible for you guys this year! I can’t wait to meet all of you and good luck in the weeks to come x
Flávia Ganzer, 2nd Year English Literature