Letters from the dorm: Variety is the spice of life

By Elaine Leung, Durham University, Britain
By Elaine Leung, Durham University, Britain |

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Four weeks into the second term of university, I can finally say that I have settled in and become more familiar with the surroundings. Like everybody else here, my first term was spent participating in club events, including the Islamic Society's Quiz Night, aerial arts sessions, and rowing. I am able to manage my time more effectively (for revision, for example) now because I have committed myself to several societies and I know exactly what my responsibilities are.

At most British universities, your grades in your freshman year don't count towards your final degree.

So my first year is really the only time I can afford to try out new activities without worrying too much about how it will affect my graduation. I personally think it's a brilliant idea - not because I don't want to study! As a freshman, I have to adapt to a lot of changes, such as different essay-writing styles, new friends and a new learning environment. But because my first year doesn't really count, I can experiment with different study methods and devote more time to extracurricular activities. I am trying aerial arts, learning Russian (a new language for me), and I've even launched the Tea and Cake Appreciation Society.

I also regularly hold discussions with my peers outside of class. These were really useful last term, especially nearer to essay deadlines, because we were able to test our ideas against each other. We also go out for dinner together sometimes to catch up on what's happening in our lives.

For the rest of this term, I will be going on hiking trips with the Hill Walking Society, which was voted "Society of the Year" for the second year running. It's always healthy to breathe in some fresh air, and take in the views of the national parks in England!