After spending 14 years in Catholic education, it seemed a bit of a culture shock walking into a secular environment, not starting the day off with our usual prayers and having no longer having the compulsory School masses and RE. My introduction to Durham’s student faith support started at my old School with the President of the Catholic Society (CathSoc) coming to visit and tell us about how to get involved.
There are several faith based student societies around Durham for celebrating or exploring your Religion and it is a good way of getting to know people from a similar background to you; I have made several friends this way. These societies do not just celebrate Mass, usually there is a celebration and then you socialise together, sometimes there is even a meal cooked at these societies. In terms of exploring your faith, you meet people who have had several different experiences, I have heard about peoples experiences in places such as Lourdes. Durham academic life may be intense, but there are experiences such as Evensong (not just for Christians) that have a good ambience, perfect for taking your mind off complicated Physics problems.
Meet local people
Going to your faith based setting is a good way of getting to meet the local community. There are Student services for the University, but you could go to another Church (or your equivalent) in the local area as I do, you will be made to feel welcome and it gets you out of the student Durham bubble; the locals often have a different set of viewpoints which are very interesting.
A tolerant city
It is not only just Christians who are catered for, Durham welcomes students of all faiths and none. I find Durham a very tolerant place, I have friends from a variety of faiths and backgrounds and I have never found the Religion here to be pushy. The vast majority of people here are very tolerant and I find it interesting to find out about their culture. If you are not of a faith, it does not matter at Durham, people are tolerant of that as well.
Over the next week, we will explore the various ways to practice your Faith in Durham and the various ways in which we explore each other’s in a liberal academic environment, cumulating in an interview with the president of DASH (Durham Atheist, Secular and Humanist society).
To find out more about how and where you can worship at Durham Univesrity, whatever your faith or religious beliefs, visit the website www.durham.ac.uk/faithsupport/
You can also see the groups and faith societies you could join on the Student Union website www.durhamsu.com