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Durham University

Global Durham

Vaishali Iyer

I chose Durham because the Combined Honours programme I wanted to study was the most flexible programme I could find. I was originally going to study English Literature and Art History but the way the programme is set up here allowed me to swap English for Spanish and access a wide range of module choices.

I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived in Durham. I had an idea that it was in the middle of nowhere but it’s not, and it’s bigger than I was expecting . I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Singapore when I was seven, so I’ve always lived in big cities. I like the fact that I can walk everywhere in Durham and there are lots of things happening even though it’s a small city.

The college system really helps you settle in. If you are homesick when you get here the college will try and support you and make sure you aren’t really alone at all in the first few weeks. I’m in St Mary’s college and I lived there in my first year. I really enjoyed our International Freshers’ Week and some of the people I met became some of my best friends. Most countries are represented in a society so you can always find people that come from same place as you do and make friends that way too. That’s not to say there’s no culture shock, but it makes it easier to adjust.

There are so many clubs and societies that you can find anything you are interested in and if you can’t find it, you can just set your own up. I set of the Buddha society and the Happiness Society – which is a fun society where we send out happy emails with different themes every day. I’m thinking about joining thai kickboxing this year and I tried rowing in my first year on the river, that was really fun.

I did a year abroad and I am so pleased I had the opportunity, it has been one of the highlights of my degree. I spent eight months in Barcelona working and four months in Italy doing a teaching assistantship. Apart from being really exciting and fun, I think it looks really good on my CV and really helped me with my language skills. Study Abroad is a really valuable experience, you get a taste of the real world. 

I’d advise any international student thinking of coming here to apply, and to try and get as involved as possible in university life, to help make the most of your experience.