I couldn’t begin this with anything short of a huge congratulations on your results and, with even more enthusiasm, a huge welcome to St Mary’s College!
It is honestly a pleasure and a privilege to be able to welcome you into our community here at St Mary’s. Whoever you are reading this, I am sure that you will find and love your place here within our college and Durham University as a whole.
Mary’s is known across Durham University as the friendliest college and this will make itself clear from the moment you arrive, as our Freshers’ Reps bound towards you in enthusiastic welcome before moving all your things (no matter how many things) into your room. From then on, whether it continues to be the Freshers’ Reps or it is our Welfare Team, Student Support Staff, or fellow Mary’s students in general, there will always be people to help you settle in and kickstart what I am sure will be a brilliant university experience.
This is not to guarantee that it will be smooth sailing from the moment you step on Mary’s ground; even within the blur of excitement in starting university, it is completely natural to feel nervous or find certain parts of it daunting. The start can be overwhelming and everyone struggles at points, but this is only proof that you are not alone! Whether you find the first week a blast or not, everything goes uphill in the time to come.
The advice I would have given my Fresher self if I could would be to remember that your university experience does not begin and end with Freshers’ Week. People take to it in different ways; you might come out of it believing your second Monday here has just locked away the best days of your life and you might not. What I can tell you now is that time goes on. The people on your corridor that you haven’t spoken to yet? You will, and you will probably become really good friends. That evening event you decided not to go to because you were tired? You have so much time to be with people and have fun, take this night to go to bed early if you want to. That academic advisor meeting you didn’t see the email about? They will send you another email and it will have zero affect on your degree. Time goes on; you will adjust to how it all works here, you will do so much, and you will find friends you love. Be yourself, try not to stress, and everything will fall into place.
Now that you’re halfway down my letter I feel I should let you know who I am and what exactly ‘JCR President’ means. I graduated from Durham this summer with an English Lit degree. I loved my time at Mary’s so much, and was so sad at the thought of it ending, that I’ve managed to secure another year here as JCR President. Essentially, my job is to oversee the student body in college, including events, sports teams, societies, and more – if it’s a part of the JCR, I’ll be there. I have this job for one year and I live and work in college so you’ll be seeing a lot of me.
When you are here, please feel free to come and see me either in the JCR office or in my flat–both of which are located on first floor West Wing of Fergusson building, directly above the dining hall–or chat to me wherever you find me if you have any questions, problems, or fancy saying hello! If you have questions now, before you arrive in Durham, I am only an email or phone call away. Every question is valid and I’m happy to answer any, be they small or significant. When you do arrive you’ll have an extra group of people here–your Freshers’ Reps–who will be able to answer questions and just chat generally with you about life at Mary’s and in Durham. One thing you will never lack here is support so if you ever need anything just let us know.
I cannot overstate how much of a home I have found here. I am genuinely excited (and genuinely jealous) of the stage you are all at and the (at least) three future years you will have here to enjoy one of the newest and most exciting times of your life. Whatever you like, whatever you are good at, you will find something, most probably many things, to become involved in and love about college life.
Congratulations again on your amazing results, enjoy the rest of your summer (you deserve it!), and I cannot wait to welcome you to Mary’s come September.
St Mary’s JCR President 2018/19
Tel: 0191 33 45933