History and French student David Siesage talks to us about life at Durham University.
What course are you studying: BA History and French at Durham University.
What did you study at school/college: A-Levels in English Literature, French and History & AS- Level in Economics
Why did you choose this course?
In my final years at school, a few talented teachers really helped me to engage with academia for the first time, and History and French were the subjects that interested me most. So the History and French course at Durham was an obvious choice. The History department offer an enormous range of modules on subjects from Robin Hood to post-colonial Africa to American capitalism, and I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to live in France for a year!
Why did you choose this uni?
Like a good proportion of Durhamites, I had set my initial sights on Oxford University. However, after interview, it was clear that they had different plans. Thankfully, Durham said yes and I was more than happy to accept their offer. The university has a great reputation, the city is incredible, and the collegiate system really appealed to me. The only downside is the weather!
What are the facilities like?
The facilities are pretty great, both on a college and a university level. Each of the sixteen colleges is completely different in terms of architecture and bedrooms, but they all have their own common room, bar, library and gym. Some even have their own tennis courts and sports pitches. The university facilities are also excellent. There are lots of high quality sports facilities, a very well equipped gym, and the library has every book you’d ever want. I can’t comment on the science labs, but I’ve heard no complaints!
What's the student experience like?
In general, it’s excellent. The colleges are fantastic social hubs, and provide you will a ready-made friendship group from the first week. The nightlife is… questionable at times. There are a few good clubs and bars, but being quite a small city, nights out can get a little repetitive. But we always manage to have a good time, and college bars are great and cheap. There are also an enormous variety of activities to occupy your free time, from student newspapers and wine societies to chamber choirs and ‘quidditch’ teams.
Best thing about studying at your uni?
In my opinion, the best thing about studying at Durham is the collegiate system. Unlike at studying at Oxbridge, lectures and seminars are conducted on a university-wide basis, but colleges cater for every other aspect of student life. All first years live in college, but remain a member of a college even when they move out. Through colleges, students have the opportunity to join sports teams, music groups, drama troupes, and all sorts of other societies, as well as attend regular formal dinners and termly black tie balls. Each college has a real sense of community, which makes socialising extremely easy.
Have you done any work-experience?
At Durham I’ve worked once a week in my college bar since first year, and during summer holidays I have undertaken a range of different work experience schemes. To decide whether to go into law or journalism, I’ve worked at law firms, barristers’ chambers, criminal courts, and newspapers – and having Durham University on my CV played no small part in getting my foot in the door.
What are your future career plans?
In September this year I’ll be moving down to London to start the Graduate Diploma in Law at BPP Law School, after which I’ll take the Legal Practice Course. In September 2017, I’ll start work as a trainee solicitor at Allen & Overy, where I hope to specialise in either Litigation or Corporate law.
Any tips for students thinking about going to uni?
1. Make sure that you’re going to university because you want to – not because your parents want you to.
2. Choose a subject you’ll be happy to study intensely for three to four years.
3. Visit the universities before applying to get a real sense of the city.
4. Avoid typos in you personal statement!
5. If you get a place at Durham, bring some jumpers.