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Highlighted in my calendar in pastel pink is June 21. A checkpoint for the complete reopening of the country at the end of the labyrinth of lockdown. While I’m concerned that the “Summer of Freedom” (as it is beautifully going to be known in my mind) might never actualise, I still enjoy the thought of a return to normalcy, something which I, like many University students, have sorely missed.

As I stare out at the rooftops of red-brick houses, I wish I was sitting in the ambience of a charming Durham café, surrounded by homey aromas and sipping on overpriced green-tea (and scoffing down any form of cake). I long to spend my student loan on anything except Amazon Marketplace, especially as fear grips me that our favourite staples such as Cafédral will no longer be there to greet us at the end of lockdown. I’m sure many share the sentiment that Durham cafés are part of the city’s livelihood. To the Durham student wanting to study, they are welcome respites from the suffocatingly clinical Bill Bryson Library and Teaching and Learning Centre. I hope that when my degree is over, the students after me will come to appreciate Durham’s cafés as much as I have. Judging by the lines outside Flat White Kitchen that hold steadfast even during the pandemic, they definitely will.

Another aspect of Lockdown coming to an end is the reopening of bars and clubs. No more will drinking be limited to living spaces, plonked down on sofas with a small speaker blasting TikTok’s Greatest Hits. That’s now confined to the pre-drinks, and the main event of the night will once again be on the club dance floor. Sadly, my time spent in lockdown hasn’t included learning TikTok dances, so it’ll be back to poor dance moves for me. Nonetheless, these Durham clubs hold fond memories to me, as well as to other Durham students; they’re iconic localities that hold testament to strange social initiations, nights out with friends and memories of times before we were all sealed off in our homes. To those who came to University this year, one word of warning: Klute will leave you dirty. Do not wear anything new in there, and watch out for the ceiling—it leaks.

person making a heart with their hands at a concert
Photo by Anthony DELANOIX from Unsplash

My mind drifts back to my first year, and I also remember all of my nights staying in at Durham. Societies within college facilitated a lot of them, and they have suffered over this year of Zoom socials. This year has been the most connected and disconnected we’ve seen. It’s contradictory I know, but I pray with lockdown’s end comes the beginning of a new opportunity for Durham students to experience college life and societies again.

As I scroll through my Snapchat memories, I’m reminded of how different life was before all of this. I wonder how the light at the end of the tunnel will manifest itself. Will it be filled with Spoon’s pitchers and the utter chaos of a Durham night out? Or will it be filled with coffee and cake galore, vying for a place in Flat White or Riverview Kitchen? Either way, the bustling social life that comes with a Durham degree will finally be kickstarted back to life, and we might be able to salvage new memories after a time that has been tough on us all.

Saray Imlach

Durham '22

Saray is a Second Year Liberal Arts student specialising in English literature, History, and Sociology. An organised mess by day, video game connoisseur by night, she has an impressive 160+ hours in Animal crossing (let’s not talk about the effort she puts into the Sims, though). As a Gibraltarian, she loves to take siestas, eat stupid amounts of cheese, and sleep at odd hours of the day – currently trying to cope with the cold North Eastern weather of Durham and most likely daydreaming of when she can return to the beach.
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