The Student Room Group
Chemistry Research, Durham University
Durham University
Durham
Visit website

is durham friendly to international students?

Hii,
I want to study abroad in the UK for a semester (or even a year) and I was attracted to Durham because of the unique experience it seems to offer, I've always wanted to have that boarding school close-knit community experience and it does look like it provides an irl Hogwarts experience lol.
However, I see a lot of mixed opinions about the social life. I'm an extroverted introvert, I don't care if there aren't many clubs or anything (I'm not interested in partying uni), and the formals and balls seem cool since in my country we only see that in movies, but it worries me I might get treated differently or get victimized in some way for being a foreigner.
I'm not working class but I am from DR so I'm not sure where I fall. The UK seems to have a very segregated class system and sometimes people just seem biased and it's unclear how bad the "posh" people or 'rahs' that keep being mentioned in the forum actually are.
Then again some guy said in a post/article he received casual racism and other microaggressions and I don't think I can handle that.
To be fair, I'm not necessarily exotic looking, I'm of Mediterranean descent and on the pale side ("white-passing" in the US), and I've only received microaggressions until after I said where I'm from or spoke Spanish, but I've never been to the UK and I don't know if in the UK they care as much as ppl in the US do about these things. Even if I "pass" in the UK I don't wanna feel like I'm walking on eggshells bc of something as trivial as nationality nor can I handle seeing someone being a victim of that behaviour.
It scares me that it is just a gated community for privileged cliquey kids to use others as punching bags and get away with it (I went to a private high school and it was like that so I'm trying to avoid another traumatic experience). at the same time, it seems like I could be worrying over nothing.
can someone give me any insight into their experiences if they relate to me in any way? Or recommend an university that would provide a similar experience without that inconvenience?
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by throwawaycat
Hii,
I want to study abroad in the UK for a semester (or even a year) and I was attracted to Durham because of the unique experience it seems to offer, I've always wanted to have that boarding school close-knit community experience and it does look like it provides an irl Hogwarts experience lol.
However, I see a lot of mixed opinions about the social life. I'm an extroverted introvert, I don't care if there aren't many clubs or anything (I'm not interested in partying uni), and the formals and balls seem cool since in my country we only see that in movies, but it worries me I might get treated differently or get victimized in some way for being a foreigner.
I'm not working class but I am from DR so I'm not sure where I fall. The UK seems to have a very segregated class system and sometimes people just seem biased and it's unclear how bad the "posh" people or 'rahs' that keep being mentioned in the forum actually are.
Then again some guy said in a post/article he received casual racism and other microaggressions and I don't think I can handle that.
To be fair, I'm not necessarily exotic looking, I'm of Mediterranean descent and on the pale side ("white-passing" in the US), and I've only received microaggressions until after I said where I'm from or spoke Spanish, but I've never been to the UK and I don't know if in the UK they care as much as ppl in the US do about these things. Even if I "pass" in the UK I don't wanna feel like I'm walking on eggshells bc of something as trivial as nationality nor can I handle seeing someone being a victim of that behaviour.
It scares me that it is just a gated community for privileged cliquey kids to use others as punching bags and get away with it (I went to a private high school and it was like that so I'm trying to avoid another traumatic experience). at the same time, it seems like I could be worrying over nothing.
can someone give me any insight into their experiences if they relate to me in any way? Or recommend an university that would provide a similar experience without that inconvenience?


Hiya

I'm happy to share my experience with you as an international student from a developing country and a POC.

I definitely agree with you in terms of the social life Durham has to offer- I too was attracted to the collegiate system, gowned formals, balls, and the seemingly 'Hogwart style experience'. There is a college called University College (or Castle) and it does have a huge dining hall, plus some of the scenes in Harry Potter, Avengers, Thor etc were shot in the Durham Cathedral. The thing is, barely any freshers actually get to live inside the castle- most end up in the different accommodation blocks that are near the Castle. However, all Castle students eat their meals inside the Great Hall so that's definitely a plus. All colleges have balls and formals (some are gowned) and that's pretty cool! You can check out how they look on our Tiktok channel run by Durham students: tiktok.com/@thedurhamstudent

As for your other concern, I know how Durham is notorious for being 'full of bad posh people'. In my experience, this is true to some extent- you do find rich unruly people- but that does not make the university bad as a whole. There are many international students coming from different nationalities, races and backgrounds so you won't ever feel left out. Plus if you think about it, it's not like only Durham has people with bad behaviour- that's something you can find literally anywhere in the world and in every single educational institution. I have been able to make so many friends- both home and international- and both have been really amazing. They've always been very interested in which country I come from and appreciate my culture and experiences.

I had this experience in the city centre once where some guy (also from my ethnic heritage) started yelling at me and degrading people of my nationality. It was awful since I had just arrived in Durham but more than that, I just felt pitiful towards him because of his shrewd mentality. That was just one person somewhere in the city but nobody associated with the university has ever been discriminatory or rude towards me. There have been an overwhelming number of good experiences and I've had so many opportunities to develop personally. Because of this, that one rude incident did not ruin the Durham experience for me.

At the same time, I totally understand that some people would have had experiences different to mine. There have been a few instances of racist and discriminatory comments at uni but please remember that if you ever face anything of this kind, you should always report it to the university and seek support (plenty of which is available, especially at the college level). Again, this could happen to anyone at any place in the world so I don't think Durham is exceptional in that sense.

My advice is, as long as you make friends with people you're comfortable with, it'll all be good. There is a huge range of societies and clubs to join and you can find them all here. There is an International Students' Association that all international students are automatically part of and they arrange many events throughout the year for students to come together and enjoy. Don't worry about it too much, just enjoy the Durham experience, make friends, engage in events and take advantage of the collegiate system :wink:

-Himieka
(edited 1 year ago)
Chemistry Research, Durham University
Durham University
Durham
Visit website

Quick Reply

Latest