International Students’ FAQ

This is a supplementary list of FAQs that we think the Welcome Letter and Information Pack might not have been able to answer!

I’m feeling stressed about all the administration (passport and VISA checks, Police Registration, Medical Forms, etc.) could you let me know what I have to do for each of these?

Being bombarded with all these forms and all this information can be a lot to take in, I know! The most important thing to remember is not to panic. You’ll often find yourself calming down when you realise not all administration applies to you (say, if you have a Tier 4 visa, you’ll only have to do that bit of administration, right?) To find out such details read through my letter and the links that I have posted there. If you’re still unsure, feel free to reach out to me.

How do I get my Student ID?

Your Student ID (which in Durham we call a ‘Campus Card’) will be administered to you during International Induction Week and we will tell you exactly how to and help you to obtain yours when you arrive. It’ll most likely be in college, or in the campus library (a brisk 5-minute walk away).

I’m going to arrive in Durham before September 28th, can I still use the Welcome Service and can I stay in college?

The Welcoming Service only kicks into action on September 28th so if you are arriving in Durham before that date you will need to take a taxi, of which there are plenty at the station, to your destination. You are absolutely welcome to stay in college, but if you are planning to do so you will need to send an email to the St Mary’s admissions (stmarys.admissions@durham.ac.uk).

My parents are coming with me to Durham, can you recommend hotels and restaurants?

There are three main hotels that parents usually stay at in Durham: The Radisson Blu, The Premier Inn, and The Marriott. The first two are the cheaper options with the Radisson Blu being situated on the river which is lovely for parents to stay in. The Marriott is probably the most expensive option but is a really nice hotel and has a great location as it is practically in the centre of town!

In terms of restaurants I suggest you walk through the town centre (Saddler Street and Silver Street) and pop into whatever restaurant takes your fancy! All hold their own unique experience and food is generally quite delicious throughout Durham. To name a few…

For a really nice Italian: Capriccio’s. For a diverse but homely menu: Bill’s. For good Tapas: La Tasca. For authentic Thai: Nadon Thai. For one of the best burgers you will ever have: Fat Hippo. For classic English pub food: The New Inn (not in the town centre, but is just down the road from Mary’s).

What will be provided for me in my room?

There will be a mattress, a nightstand, a chair and desk, a desk light, a wardrobe (often without any hangers), a sink, and two bins. There is also a good amount of storage but it differs from room to room and building to building, but you will get shelving and a large storage space to stow big items like suitcases.

What extra things will I need and how will I get them to my room in Mary’s?

You will need bedsheets, pillows, duvet covers, a duvet, towels, hangers, soap & toiletries, stationery, a laundry hamper, some cutlery and dishes, and any other additional domestic stuff you would fancy (for example a bedside lamp).

Don’t panic! Most people purchase all of this stuff when they get to Durham and our International Induction Week is designed to fit in shopping excursions where you will have the chance to buy anything you need.

Do I need to worry about safety in Durham?

Durham is one of the places in the world where I feel most safe. Of course, in any city you should be cautious – don’t walk home alone at night, don’t walk by the river after a night out, etc – but during term time it is filled to the brim with students and the smallness of the city itself makes it a safe bubble! Mary’s also prides itself in its #SafeMarys initiative, which is a college-wide awareness of safety and caring for each other in any situation.

What is covered in the accommodation fees?

Your accommodation fees cover the right to your room throughout the year, including term time holidays. During holidays you are allowed to, and many International students do, remain in college but you will not be catered during these periods of time. Every floor in college is equipped with a pantry and there are some pantries which have hobs for cooking so you are absolutely welcome to make use of them if you choose to stay in college over the holidays! The details of this should be listed out clearly in your accommodation contract.

What is a typical day in International Induction Week?

Everyday will be different as we have a diverse and dynamic week lined up for you; there will be activities for everyone: sports tasters, decoration making, tours around Durham, shopping trips to Newcastle, and even a lovely night-in with a neighbouring college!

A standard routine will go something like this: wake up for breakfast between 8 and 9, do a morning activity, do some administration, have lunch at around 12-1, do an afternoon activity, have dinner from around 6, do an evening activity. It is absolutely your choice what you choose to get involved in, none of the activities we have planned are compulsory! But I do encourage you to do as much as you can to get to know as many people as you can.

I’m really nervous about coming to University! Do you have any advice you could give me before Induction Week begins?

Everyone is nervous! Coming to University, in a new country as well, is bound to be daunting. But it is daunting for everybody. International Induction Week will be as activity packed or as relaxed as you want it to be – all I would say you need to do is participate in whatever takes your fancy and just get chatting with people. You’ll soon see that St. Mary’s attracts the loveliest of people and that you can all begin what will definitely be the journey of a lifetime doing the chilled and exciting activities we have planned, led by a team of brilliant Freps, together with a whole group of new and interesting people, some of which will come to be your lifelong friends. Let yourself be nervous – it is natural – but get excited as well!

This FAQ has not helped one bit, what do I do?

No worries at all – I had at least a million questions running through my head when I read all this last year at home in Hong Kong. The best thing to do is, of course, ask! Drop me an email at tullia.c.fraser@durham.ac.uk, or find me on Facebook (search Tullia Fraser) – I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for message requests there! There isn’t a set topic of questions, feel free to ask me anything: international administration, college life, academic life in University, or even where you can get your fix of bubble tea (as of June 2017, the answer to that would be Newcastle Chinatown)!