All posts filed under: Durham University

Chords I’ve learned

“Oh I remember sitting back on my balcony, I was list’ning to the Rolling Stones. See I was waiting for my Dad to come home from work so I could show him all the chords that I learned.” Part Time Believer, Boy & Bear This summer I have had plenty of time to think about the chords that I’ve learned during my first year at Durham. Chords in a quite literal sense as a music student of course, but also figuratively – I’ve acquired skills, I’ve met people, I’ve learned about me. How many chords there are that I did not know existed! I’ve picked a few to share. Some of these are less instructive than they are a mere feeling, but there are people who believe that a chord, in all its multiplicity of forms, is meant to evoke a certain emotion or decision. You can decide on how to feel about, interpret, agree or disagree with the following extracts from a notebook I kept this year.   I’m spending a lot of money on …

Easter term.

With a violin slung across left shoulder, one arm trying to manoeuvre my suitcase up South Road and the other hand shielding my eyes from the sharp rays, I greeted the Odgen Centre of physics and scrutinised the construction progress of the new Education hub (controversially, Durham’s small, already brimming radius is preparing for expansion). The city campus is bursting its banks, so to speak, and accepting more and more students. They were all, as I stopped for a moment to catch my breath, sitting outside the Bill Bryson library eating baguettes and smoking with faces pointed up towards the sun. I turned around and fixed my eyes on the soft blue ahead; it had quickly dawned on me how mockingly beautiful the summer light was. How distressingly bittersweet reality seemed all of a sudden – I would not be able to enjoy the sun without feeling somewhat guilty at the fact that I was not revising for exams! Smiling, I laboured on towards my college, which is situated suitably at the top of the hill, …

Epiphany.

Until researching it, I was never sure why the second term at Durham is called Epiphany, but, despite it often being cited as the more ‘settled down’ phase of one’s first year at university, this academic term afforded many small epiphanies and realisations. To approach the second term with a sense of trepidation seems quite a stereotypical pastime of the university student, what with all the assignments that had been completed over Christmas (or final week thereof) that need handing in, and a feeling of uncertainty associated with not-yet-solidified friendships. Upon my return, I quickly replaced my illusion that people had somehow stuck around consolidating relationships over Christmas with the relieving reality that, since the final day of the first term, life in Durham had been placed on hold. I quickly learned that first term is the time and place to be friendly to a fault and act almost too interested in everything for your own good; it’s all about asserting and introducing yourself to as many people as possible. Second term offers little alternative …

Michaelmas.

Train seat. Tapping feet. Time to reflect on Michaelmas. Ask me to sum up the term and I would tell you that there is neither a word nor way. Michaelmas was a different colour every day and every hour; it was everything all at once. My 10-week-old notebook has been filled to the last page with mingled entries, observations and remainders of the term (formal dinner meal plaques, cross country numbers, a red leaf, a carol service leaflet). Now, flicking through it, I’m trying to process it all; trying to decide what to share. It would lack nuance to say I came to university without expectations because I sort of realised their latent presence throughout the term. One thing was certain: I knew it was going to be busy – I was going to make myself busy. I didn’t, however, anticipate the casualness with which I came to develop an addiction for over committing. At times, I had so much to do that I’d just crack open a tin of baked beans and stare at the wall for …

Shades of suddenly.

You go to university and suddenly living becomes very loud – a sort of wonderful nightmare. I think, for many of us, autumn in Durham has consisted of a series of ‘suddenly’s’ that creep up, unnoticed, only to pounce at the most unexpected of times. Suddenly smiling, privately amused at the creative notions you come up with as a means of trying to remember people’s names. Turning it into a game. Although, more often than not, you remember every funny little detail: their favourite place to get fish and chips, the name of their black Labrador. Everything apart from their name. Suddenly startled at how many cups of coffee you can manage to swig in a day (and not feeling bad about it either); revelling in the routinely holding of these warm mugs of caffeine to the chilled stones of your teeth. Suddenly overwhelmed by the wealth of information at your fingertips as you enter the library for the first time. The smell of books, knowledge, facts, interpretation. Suddenly realising that you are being talked to about dodecaphony by an …