St. John's Common Room

Freshers 2016


To all Freshers,

First of all, let us introduce ourselves, we’re Jess and Joe – your Head Freps. This basically means that we’re in charge of making sure you have the best start to university and settle in to John’s. We’re both third years, studying Combined Honours in Social Sciences and Biomedical Sciences respectively. Jess is also a college sport captain and works for the uni as a Student Ambassador. Joe is involved in loads of sports, becoming the captain of table tennis last year.

Secondly, massive congratulations on your results and we can’t wait to meet everyone and welcome you into John’s upon confirmation of your place. We have a huge range of events going on during Freshers’ week, everything from boat parties to themed bar crawl and acoustic nights and loads of sports and societies tasters for you to get involved in.

There are so many opportunities waiting for you as soon as you arrive in Durham; meeting new people, getting involved in sports and societies in college and for the university, and of course the chance to study the subject you love. Whatever your interests, John’s is the perfect place for you – you will always find support and encouragement to pursue what you enjoy most.

The information you find in this handbook will help you to settle in and enjoy your first few weeks at Durham. It explains the college system, the support you’ll receive both in college and uni wide, some of the opportunities you can make the most of, and of course our team of Freps who’ll be looking after you during Freshers’ week.

If you have any questions that aren’t answered in the handbook then please contact us – all our info is at the bottom of the page. Once your place with us AS A MEMBER OF ST JOHN’S is officially confirmed, there is also a Freshers’ Facebook group for you to join ‘St John’s College Freshers’ 2016’; we’ll be using this to update you with info in the run up to Freshers’ week and giving you hint about what we have in store. There’s also a blog written by the Freps, giving you an insight into some of the experiences that you might have at John’s. In the coming weeks you will be contacted by a member of the Frep team, as well as your college parents, all of whom are happy to answer any questions or worries that you might have!

Our Frep team is currently working super hard to make sure that your Freshers’ week is the best yet! We hope you all enjoy the rest of the summer and we look forward to hopefully meeting you all on Freshers’ Sunday!

Jess and Joe


  • Monday 19th September 2016

    Alex Osborne

    Sports and societies at John’s are thriving with almost everyone in college taking part in some sort of group or team. This is hardly surprising as there’s SO much to get involved with that there is literally something for everyone. It gets better too in that prior experience isn’t a necessity for anything; the idea of college level sports and societies is that everyone can have a go in a friendly environment. That’s not to say, however, that we aren’t competitive when it comes to sport – despite our size we regularly beat the bigger colleges in all kinds of sports. When I joined John’s I took the opportunity to continue my squash which I’ve played for ages but also get involved with the hockey team (a sport I’d hardly played before). I’ve had so much fun playing both sports for John’s this year and look forward to continuing with them next year. John’s is ideal for accommodating anyone from beginner to expert and I’d urge everyone to try as much as they can and get involved with something, you won’t regret it!
  • Friday 16th September 2016

    Helen Connolly and Katherine Eley

    Top things to do in Duz:
    • GO TO JIMMYS! Free entry and always a good Johns group there, what more can you want?
    • Fat Hippo and Tango do fab burgers. Cellar Door and Restaurant 17 are also great but way more spenny (potentially a good option if family are visiting). Spags is a great option for going out with friends or on a social.
    • Go to Flat White for brunch - don’t be put off by the massive queues, tip is to go early in the morning and you should get a table! Leonards is also a great café, they don’t do any meat plates though so if that’s what you’re looking for best going somewhere else - 9 altars does a mean fry up.
    • JOIN THE TABLE FOOTBALL CLUB! Super fun and you’ll get addicted – we played TF after every meal!
    • Join as many clubs and societies as you can (most importantly: the women’s football team!), especially during freshers week when there’s lots of trial sessions. It’s a great way to meet people and you might discover things you never thought you’d like.
    • Urban oven for takeaway pizza – yummy and way cheaper than Dominoes, deliver to college as well so very convenient.
    • The Boat Club does great cocktails for decent prices, so a win-win for all the cocktail lovers out there.
    • Waffly good does yummy waffles, with both sweet and savoury options it caters for every mood.
    • Lounge is a fab café, with great milkshakes plus incredible cookie dough (be careful though they cause actual food comas, ask Emma Clissold), plus it’s open until late (10PM) so a great option for a late night snack. Velvet Elvis also has a really nice café above the shop – they do freakshakes which are great, plus they have games to play with friends.
    • Be Tempted on the Bailey does great cupcakes – we were very tempted every time we walked into town! Sweet Tooth Delivery also do incredible cake.
    • Go and see the cloisters by the cathedral where Harry Potter was filmed, makes us feel just like Hermoine! There’s also a Lego cathedral there which is super cool.
    • Infinite Air is a great day out, very tiring but really worth it and easily accessible from college.
    • If you get bored in Durham (lets be honest, it is quite small) we’d recommend going to Newcastle seeing as its so close, whether it be during the day or at night. There’s great restaurants, shops and clubs so whatever you want to do there you’ll have a fab time.
    • For those of you who love watching sport, games are often shown in the bar overspill so definitely go watch them there. There’s a great atmosphere plus they often open the bar for the games.
    • If you’re going out don’t just pre in your rooms, do go down the bar. You’ll find people who are going to the same place as you so it’s a great chance to chat to other people from college.

    • Big Love from Hel and Kath xoxox

      P.S. Be friends with Matt Hilton because he = ultimate bae. And please bring him food.

  • Wednesday 14th September 2016

    Helen Connolly and Katherine Eley

    Top Freshers’ Tips:
    • Don’t stress about the fancy dress for Freshers’ Week! It is all very chilled and you will see varying amounts of effort being made so nothing to worry about at all. Cloth is also a great shop for finding fancy dress, but we recommend bringing anything you have at home.
    • Freshers’ Flu is inevitable so come prepared with tissues, Lemsip, medicine and anything else that will help you feel on top form.
    • There’s so much to do during Freshers’ that you’ll start to feel exhausted so don’t be afraid of taking any opportunity for a cheeky nap.
    • Make sure you go to the college clubs and societies fair and go to the taster sessions during Freshers’ week. They’re a great opportunity to try something new – both of us started a new sport because of the fair!
    • During the first few days, whilst it will feel a lot easier to stay in your room and unpack, do make the effort to go out and meet people, it’ll feel so great once you’ve found some friends!
    • If you happen to already know someone in college try not to spend all your time with them. We know it’ll seem like the easiest thing to do but its really great to branch out and meet new people as well.
    • Don’t feel like you have to drink gallons every night, you’ll still have a fab getting to know people without being smashed plus there’s a lot of early mornings during Freshers’ so will help you feel better in the daytime.
    • If you don’t want to go out that’s absolutely fine, there’s something planned every night in college for those who aren’t keen to go out and plenty of people attend.
    • When you are going out at night remember to stay with the group. Freps will walk you back to the college from the clubs whenever you want to leave so please don’t go wandering off by yourself.
    • Get training and bring your running shoes for the 5 mile run during Freshers’ week, it’s a blast!
    • In terms of utensils there’s not too much that you need, just bring a mug, a plate and a set of cutlery. We’d also recommend bringing a clothes drying rack, they’re really handy for the odd occasion you might decide to do some washing.
    • Maybe bring some earplugs, sometimes you can get a lot of noise from the Bailey or the river so might be useful to have some on hand if things get rowdy.
    • Bring blankets, especially good during the winter for snuggling when it gets cold.
    • Freshers’ formal is the strictest formal of the year so try to follow the guidelines on conduct and dress code. Also make sure to go to the mega formals, they’re great fun and pretty much everyone goes.
    • During the week there are talks on in college. They are short and sweet so please try to turn up on time to them. Also make sure you go to the department talks for your subject, they often give out a lot of important information at them.
  • Monday 12th September 2016

    Emma Clissold

    My top tip for freshers is to make sure you find a good balance between the work and social aspects of university. Although it's important to find time for your studies, it's also important to join plenty of societies and sports teams! Make the most of the many social events that John's organises throughout the year, such as Bailey ball and open mic nights, right up to Brewfest and John's day at the end of the year. In order to experience all these great events I recommend starting reading and planning for essays in plenty of time (even If it’s just hour here and there) - this way you can avoid the stresses of deadlines and have time to attend the fab social events all year round! They're not to be missed!
  • Thursday 8th September 2016

    Birsu Karaarslan

    To all the new John’s freshers, Fresher’s week is the best way to start the term and the year! It was the best week I’ve ever had other than the post exams month! Fancy dressing is the best chance for everyone to get creative and go as crazy as possible! Getting ready for the events was the most exciting part of it! Plus definitely the sports and societies part of John’s is unbelievable! Anyone can try anything they want! Try as many sports as you can. Don’t worry no one can play great sports. John’s sports are for fun and it’s a perfect step to explore and get ready for Durham teams. I would say that you should defo ROW in your first year. Just try, you don’t have to continue after novice cup, but it’s something to experience!