So, you've been accepted to Durham University, fantastic right?! Your grades werent even that good but they gave you an unconditional offer! Are you perhaps just a teensy bit suspicious? Wrong! You are foolish and naive like me and you think they just couldn't get enough of that personal description! What you've really done is forget to check one minor detail...the campus code. Yet you've packed and are in the car with your books and luggage all excited to go to a Top Ten University...
But then you arrive in Stockton.
Fantasy of exciting, happy, memorable student life over. Let me describe Stockton. Stockton is the most ugly, uncilvilised, stenching, run down town that I have seen in Britain. At least other rundown inner city student areas have charachter. This place has a high street that hasn't ventured past 1971, its got a woolworths, a couple of dodgy market stalls oh and by the way...it has the cheapest heroin in Britain. I exaggerate not. But you already knew that judging from the stacks of needle in the street corners. You learn about the racial war that is going on between the ship loads of immigrants that have been forced there by the government, and by the angry locals who make their presense known. But you drive on, determined that durham made a typing error, and you actually got off on the wrong motorway. So then you drive past more run down, burned out buildings, and you drive across a bridge, that looks like its heading into a...whats that....industrial park? No wait...thats going to be where you are studying and sleeping for the next miserable year of your life. University of Durham Queens Campus, Stockton. Then that unconditional offer you recieved sinks in.
The buildings are shiny and new enough, but with all the ambience of a sixth form community college further learning centre. Shame there is absolutely zilch for a student to do on campus. The view from the halls is something out of a David Lynch film nightmare. In the distance you see a motorway, theres barren land everywhere, a decrepid railway line lingers over the east side of the college halls. But no wait, thats okay, because you've got an en-suite toilet in your room.
Well, you suppose, theres got to be a pub or bar around here somewhere...after all it is a student campus. And you realy need a drink, after what you know you are now faced with.
So you go to the 'students union' which is the size of your living room, is only open during the night, and is the only student friendly place for miles and miles. Did I forget to mention if you walk half a mile on you will reach the 'Bells' convieniance' store? You better get well aquainted to the employees, because this is the height of excitement in 'student friendly' Stockton. And you will need the comfort food.
well you'd think! Forget this, I'll go up to Durham everyday and actually feel like I'm at University. Well, thats great, if you don't mind the 50 minute bus journey that runs up to Durham (but sadly not on a Friday or Saturday night, when you actually do expect a decent night out), if that bus actually turns up. Because sometimes you see, it doesn't actually turn up. But if you've got a car, you can spend your loan money on petrol every day that will take you to a real students union.
Did I forget to mention theres a David Lloyd Centre on the other side of this beautiful industrial park. Well you see its not all bad, you can pay fifty quid a month to actually get out and do something, maybe get a social life at the gym, money I would have gladly paid twice over to get out of Queens Campus.
Cobblestone pavements, Cafe's, Cathedrals and idyllic green pastures this is not. This isn't Durham. This is Stockon. If you are lucky you may survive, you may get out alive. Or maybe like me, you will see the light, and get out. Clearly Durham have chucked this campus in the middle of nowhere, because it was cheap and easy. They probably thought they can think about student facilities and amenities later. Just cram all the students they can in, get the money; an easy option for a university losing money as the years go by. If you don't believe me, go take a look yourself.
You will get lost, you will become confused, you will think you will have seen a different dimension. But you will come out and be grateful that you have not ticked that little box. The box that can make or break a person.
A piece of paper with 'Durham' stamped across it will never compensate a miserable 3 years in one of Britains forgotten corners. Inevitably I withdrew. The only thing I learned from my time at University was that one shouldn't rush important decisions in their life. So I guess one good thing happened, I came out a wiser woman.
But Just remember guys and girls, don't be an idiot like me and forget to check your campus code.