This is what it’s like to be an international student at Durham

This is what it’s like to be an international student at Durham
Photo courtesy of Soumya Singh

“Durham is a small, friendly and culturally-rich city… I felt belonging to a community, not just an alone individual walking and doing repetitive tasks. Getting curious about who I will meet that day is quite an unusual experience, but it is really enjoyable.” – Eugene Ro, BA Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Durham University

The UK has a lot to offer when it comes to the student experience. From culture, to heritage, to world-class higher education providers, UK academia has truly got it all. Earning your degree from this influential region empowers you with a credential which is globally recognised and respected, doubling as a future career passport that has the potential to take you anywhere around the world.

“I secured admission to universities of my choice both in India and the UK, but a number of reasons prompted me to ultimately go for the UK,” says Soumya Singh, an international student from India who chose to learn in the world’s second-biggest host to non-native students. “I had no plans to move abroad when I was in high school until the final year in 2015 when my cousin, who was studying in the UK at that time, told me about its education system – how it was different from the one back home and more than 20 UK universities were ranked in the Top 100 in the world,” she adds.

Soumya Singh. Photo courtesy of Soumya Singh

Soumya was a big fan of UCAS – the UK’s centralised procedure for admissions. The system allows prospective students to apply to their five most desired institutions, adopting a process that is uniform and so equally easy for everyone. “In the UK,” she says, “a candidate cannot make a choice until all universities have made a decision on their application. This not only makes the choice easier for the candidate, but also prevents thousands of seats from going vacant every year due to withdrawing when the admission cycle ends.”

But many students bound for the UK are blinded by the perceived education elite. The North, for example, boasts a host of universities that are unique and globally competitive, offering the same high-class UK experience but for a modest price. The cost of living in this region is more affordable than anywhere else, consistently drawing eager students from every corner of the globe. So forget about Oxbridge and look beyond places such as London, because your UK learning venture has so much more to give.

“I had been to the UK previously,” says Ada Inoma, another student who pursued a UK education, “but I had never been to Durham or anywhere up North, so the experience was new for me. I took a connecting flight that first landed in London, then Newcastle… immediately after I arrived in Durham I felt the warmth,” she says. “There were banners and mascots everywhere welcoming students to their various colleges. I arrived at my college – Collingwood – and there were several enthusiastic fresher representatives [freps] around ready to help me move in…the atmosphere was very cordial.”

Durham’s prominent reputation extends far beyond the realm of law. This influential education provider stands among the Russell Group – a selection of 24 top-flight institutions that are the UK’s best. Ranked 78th in the world and 5th in Times and Sunday Times, Durham’s degrees are a  valuable currency in today’s vying employment market, with three subjects being recently ranked in the top 10 in the world by QS World Rankings.

Ada Inoma. Photo courtesy of Ada Inoma

“I wanted to study Law and I knew that Nigeria legislation is heavily influenced by English law, so I was sure I had to study here,” Ada continues “I specifically chose Durham University because Durham was among the Top 3 universities for law in the UK.”

Students love the convenience of living in this connected city. The tight-knit, communal atmosphere of Durham helps students feel at home, while proximity to major UK hubs allows them to explore. If you fancy a day out, Durham is just a 15-minute train ride away from Newcastle, a lively metropolis fuelled by vibrant cultural and entertainment scenes. Manchester and London are both a two- to three-hour train ride away, and since the city is set on the East Coast rail line, catching a train is easy as pie!

“Durham is a very quiet city,” says Christian Lin Derz, current student of the Durham LLB. “The nightlife is also quiet, but this can also be perceived in an optimistic manner; I will be less distracted and more likely to work. I spend most of my time playing football, studying and hanging out with friends… I have visited friends in Edinburgh, Southampton and London,” he says. “I plan on visiting friends in Glasgow, Nottingham, Canterbury and Cornwall – all of them are studying at universities in these locations.”

Durham’s approach to education is known to produce job-ready graduates. Its merger of practical and theory-based aspects allows students to gain sought-after knowledge, on top of an understanding of how this information should best be applied. You will leave empowered with the insight and industry experience that will take you anywhere you want – just harness that get-up-and-go attitude and your degree will do the rest.

Photo courtesy of Christian Lin Derz

“In five years’ time, I would probably either be finishing a PhD or entering a job,” says Eugene Ro, another of Durham’s satisfied global learners. “I have not yet decided which path I want to pursue, which is the reason why I try different internships and meet as many professionals as I can,” Eugene concludes.

“Whichever path I choose, I believe my critical analysis skills gained at Durham are assets I will benefit from for a very long time.”

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