University life beyond the library!

University life beyond the library by a Durham PPE graduate!

This is the story of my voyage into the murky depths of student politics, partying with celebrities and creating my very own speakeasy poker club. My adventure begins in late 2009 when I started reading PPE at the College of St. Hild & St. Bede (the best place in the country if not the universe) at Durham University. It is only now when I look back on those 3 years I realise that the most useful things during university were outside of the classroom – I urge you to be adventurous, open-minded and explore everything university life has to offer.

I was on every club/societies’ mailing list by the end of the Fresher’s Fair. Once the first few weeks settled down and I had been bombarded with emails offering a whole new uncharted world for me to explore, I decided to focus on a few areas that I was interested in. Later that year, I entered the college elections at university. After an intense election process I was, elected as the Hild Bede Student Representative Council Entertainment Office and this opened up a whole new chapter in my university life.

Another great thing about university is that if there is not a club that would interest you, you can start one! During the year, I found a group of friends I could play poker with and we decided to start a college poker society. Upon receiving funding we were able to buy the most awesome equipment and start a regular league as well as hold our own 64 person inter-collegiate tournament in my second year.

Having already met the likes of Tinie Tempah and Wheatus during our college ball and being in the middle of organising my own summer ball with Nero headlining I decided to campaign to become the SRC Deputy President in second term of second year. As the Deputy President I organised fortnightly formal dinners for over 300 students alongside holding positions on various committees to ensure that I fought for the collective voice of my college - Hild Bede.

University is your chance to gain life experience and develop different skills. Seek out positions of responsibility within clubs and societies that you are passionate about – if you are somebody who likes to party give Social Sec of your team a try or if you want to become the next Warren Buffet then perhaps try to be the Treasurer! But[1] just remember that whatever you are interested in there will be something for you (and if there isn’t the university will do anything they can to help you start a new one). 

My final piece of advice would be to mix with people from different backgrounds as it will enable you to try new activities and meet new people – open your mind and the new found flexibility you gain will be a powerful quality to guide you in your future.

This time last year I had just finished my dissertation and was beginning to study for exams. I lived through the 3 years with this key philosophy: 

“Do not let your degree get in the way of your education.”

Looking back I realise following my interests in event management and poker led to some brilliant friendships and a diary full of activities to keep me busy outside the classroom. Just remember that there is more to life and university than your degree. Go and find what you are passionate about and then never look back!


[1]“Never start a sentence with the word but!” I love breaking ‘grammatical’ rules that were enforced on us as school kids haha.

By Nima Kafai 

Twitter: @NemoKafai

Check out the course here: BA (Hons) Philosophy, Politics & Economics

Check out: Durham University's Compare The Uni Profile!