Social Distancing Activities

This is a page to help keep track of various things you can do to stay occupied whilst social distancing or self-isolating. These will include free activities related to learning, helping with stress and wellbeing, staying active and engaging in exercise, as well as various events. You can do some of them alone and/or with members of your household. We also have a page full of welfare advice with some health-based activities listed too. This list will be updated throughout the current lockdown and for the rest of the academic year.

If you come across anything that you think we should add, please email chair.ustinovgcr@durham.ac.uk. Thanks to Rayan Rachedi, Bryony Rogers, Diana Martinez-Trejo, Jess Craig, Connor Armstrong, Konstantina Votsika, Fausto Dardi, Alannah McPhee, Muhammed Zulkifly, and others for their suggestions.

Attractions in Durham to see

Durham is a very scenic city with plenty of nice countryside to explore and attractions to see. Along with more obvious sights, such as the cathedral and castle, below is a list of interesting places to visit that may be slightly off your normal walking route but all are within range from Sheraton Park or the city centre.

  • Beaurepaire Priory: Built in 1258 by the Prior of Durham, the remains of the Prior’s House and chapel of Beaurepaire or Bear Park can be visited within 45 minutes of walking from Sheraton Park (3.5 km)
  • Finchale Priory: For longer walks you might like to visit this Grade 1 listed 13th-century Benedictine priory built on the banks of the River Wear. An hour and a half from Sheraton Park (7.5 km)
  • Botanic Garden forests: Whilst the Botanic Garden is closed the forests behind them are still open for nature lovers and walkers. About a 20-25 minute walk from Sheraton Park with many nice trails.
  • Durham Obelisk: Near Wharton Park, by the train station, this huge structure is only visible from a few angles.
  • River Browney: Accessible from just a short walk from Neville’s Cross, this lovely river and the paths around it can take you past Beaurepaire and up to Witton Gilbert.
  • Ushaw House: Just over 5 km from Sheraton Park, Ushaw House has pretty gardens and the route there will take you through nice trails and countryside around Bearpark.
  • River Deerness (+ Little Green Bridge): You can start with this river near Holliday Park in Langley Moor and follow it up to a cute little bridge through some cool paths around Broompark.
  • The Wicker People at Croxdale Woodland Trust (Low Burnhall): Ancient woodland further south from the Botanic Garden. Look out for the people (in separate places) made of wicker! This area is 40 minutes-ish from Sheraton Park (3 km).
  • Old Durham Gardens: Close to Gilesgate, this area is to the Northeast of the city centre and about a 45-minute walk from Sheraton Park (4 km).
  • Durham Band Stand (next to River Wear): And on your way to the gardens you can take the scenic route along the river and see the Durham Band Stand on the south side, near Whinney Hill.

Games

  • Fallen London: A free online text-based browser game at https://www.fallenlondon.com. It features a gothic world full of horror and mystery and contains many hours of content (spaced out with an action cooldown system).
  • Board Game Arena: A way to play many board games online with friends or against the CPU. Some are free and others require a fee. Available at https://en.boardgamearena.com/

Culture

Museums

Zoo Live Streams:

Film and TV:

Ustinov GCR membership entitles you to access to the GCR’s Netflix and Disney+ accounts! You do not need to live in the college to get them, you just need to visit our Comms site and follow the instructions listed there. For use over the weekend (Fri-Sun), be sure to book by Friday 10am, and for the rest of the week (Mon-Thurs), the deadline is Monday 10am.

  • Kanopy:
    kanopy.com
    Kanopy offers a large library of films, including lots of documentaries and online courses. You will need to use a university login to access Kanopy’s library, but some public libraries are also now offering access with library membership (check Kanopy’s website for more information).
  • MUBI
    https://mubi.com/
    MUBI is offering 30 days of cinema for free if you are a student, if you’ve exhausted the Netflix library!

Arts Streaming:

Nonfiction Podcasts:

Some recommendations (courtesy of Jess Craig)

  • Radiotopia from PRX: https://www.radiotopia.fm/
  • 99% Invisible – ‘all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about’, largely about the unseen dimensions of architecture and design
  • Criminal – stories about crimes, handle thoughtfully and sensitively
  • Ear Hustle – a podcast about incarceration, which is partially recorded inside San Quentin State Prison
  • This American Life: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/ These are the people that made Serial – Season 1 (which re-examines the evidence in a murder case and trial) is particularly gripping.
  • Exactly Right: https://www.exactlyrightmedia.com/
  • This Podcast Will Kill You – an epidemiology and ecology podcast
  • The Fall Line – examines cold cases among the marginalised communities of the Southeastern United States, hosted by a professor and a therapist
  • Sapiens – anthropology and stories about human behaviour and culture. Has some episodes specific to pandemics and diseases that came out this summer

Fiction Podcasts

Courtesy of Connor Armstrong. All are available through Spotify as well as other places.

  • Wolf 359: https://www.wolf359.fm/. Set on a space station, a crew of three deal with emergencies, search for aliens and try to work out why they were actually sent there.
  • Ars Paradoxica: https://www.whisperforge.org/arsparadoxica. Dr. Sally Grissom discovers time travel when she accidentally sends herself back to the 1940s. Stuck there, she is forced to make the best of things whilst dealing with shadowy government agencies and The Cold War.
  • DUST: https://podbay.fm/podcast/1482669176, a series of Sci-Fi short stories exploring how we deal with technology and what it means to be human.
  • Welcome to Night Vale: https://www.welcometonightvale.com/, a radio station in a small American town where the everyday life is bizarre. Featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.
  • The Bright Sessions: https://www.thebrightsessions.com/. A podcast following the therapy sessions of young people with special powers.
  • Victoricity: https://www.victoriocity.com/. A murder mystery comedy set in Even Greater London, a colossal city in a steampunk victorian world.

Exercise:

With gyms and a lot of in-person exercise resources currently limited, it can feel a bit  These kinds of exercises can then be done anywhere, as you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment or transport it – in any room in the house or outside (if the weather is suitable…). You might want to invest in a mat, which you can order fairly easily and for little money online, but for some exercises you don’t even need one!

Yoga YouTube channels:

Exercise apps:

An example of the plethora of apps available on Android and iOS for doing at-home workouts. If you want to follow the guided programmes or just get inspiration, you can also find any type of workout you might be interested in on YouTube.

  • DownDog
    https://www.downdogapp.com/
    Includes yoga, HIIT and barre
  • Couch to 5K
    An app promoted by the NHS, designed to help beginners with a strategically constructed nine-week plan to get the user on the path to run a 5k, whatever their level.
  • Strava
    A useful and intuitive app for tracking routes and times for your runs, walks or other exercises. The GCR also has a Running Club on Strava (with a related WhatsApp chat). Contact welfare.ustinovgcr@durham.ac.uk to join and get involved!
  • Nike Training Club
    This app gives you access to a huge number of workouts for various areas of focus and you can construct your very own exercise plan that suits you and your needs. It provides you with a great way to keep up a good exercise plan whilst social distancing.

Wellbeing Zoom Classes:

Every weekday the University’s Student Wellbeing and Community Engagement department offer 2-3 classes through Zoom, free and open to all students (whether you are in Durham or studying remotely). Email wellbeing.swceoffice@durham.ac.uk to book a slot at one of these classes. Current schedule includes: Yoga everyday (Mon 12:30pm; Tues-Thur 12pm; Fri 6pm), zumba on Mondays at 6pm, HIIT on Tuesdays at 7:30pm, and pilates on Wednesdays at 6pm.

How to replace gym equipment:

A resource for inspiration on how to create at home dumbbells using backpacks, water bottles, milk cartons, and more. Replacement gym equipment

Mental Health & Wellbeing

Support Groups

The Counselling Service offer a variety of online support groups for students including the following – email counsel.service@durham.ac.uk for more information or to attend:

  • International Student Support Group
    A space to connect with others, discuss the international student experience and support one another, facilitated by members of the University Counselling Team.  Sessions take place weekly via Zoom on Thursdays 11.15-12.45 in term time;
  • Student Parent Support Group
    For students with children or parental responsibilities – the group provides an opportunity to connect with other students who may be facing similar challenges and to give and receive support, facilitated by accredited members of the University Counselling Team. Sessions take place weekly via Microsoft Teams or Zoom (contact for more info);
  • PGR Support Group
    For students completing their doctorates – the group aims to provide an opportunity to meet others in a similar situation and to experience mutual support, facilitated by accredited members of the University Counselling Team. Sessions take place weekly via Microsoft Teams or Zoom (contact for more info);
  • Long Term Physical Health Conditions Support Group
    For students with any long-term health conditions – the group will provide a non-judgemental space, to meet others in a similar position, to help reduce isolation and to offer support, facilitated by members of the University Counselling Team. Weekly sessions online via Teams or Zoom;
  • Bereavement Support Group
    An opportunity to join other students who have been bereaved – the group is a place for students who have experiences or are experiencing loss and bereavement in their lives and who are ready to explore and discuss their thoughts and feelings, facilitated by accredited members of the University Counselling Service. Sessions take place weekly via Teams or Zoom;
  • Student Carer Support Group
    For those students who are carers whilst attending University – the group will provide an opportunity to meet others in a caring role and offer mutual support, facilitated by members of the University Counselling Team.  Sessions take place weekly via Teams or Zoom;
  • Estrangement In Isolation Support Group
    For students with challenging or no family relationships – the group is aimed at students experiencing estrangement in any form, whether it be no physical contact with family at all, or difficult family relationships being further tested by Covid-19. The group will be facilitated by accredited members of the University Counselling Service and will take place weekly via Teams or Zoom.

GCR Welfare Contact Sessions

Every week members of the Ustinov GCR offer welfare drop-in sessions through Zoom using the waiting room and breakout room functions for private meetings about concerns any student might have. The sessions are currently:

  • Tuesdays 6-7pm (UK) with Jake, the Welfare Officer [Zoom link]
    For general welfare and support matters that are affecting you and your studies.
  • Wednesdays 6-7pm (UK) with Muhammed, the International Students Officer [Zoom link]
    For questions and support related to international students.

Get in touch with welfare.ustinovgcr@durham.ac.uk for more information.

Meditation

  • Weekly Mindfulness Meditation Sessions
    For Durham University Students & Staff (Free)
    Every Friday via Zoom at 11:05-11:50am
    Email chaplaincy@durham.ac.uk to sign up

Apps

  • Lists of free mindfulness apps can be found on articles here and for meditation, here. Some of these have paid-for options or advertisements but the articles explain what is free.
    Headspace have made free a variety of their products under the heading “Weathering the Storm”. See here for more information.
    The Sanvello mental health app is currently free to help people improve their wellbeing during the outbreak.

LGBT+ Postgraduate Network

  • As of the Michaelmas term, there is a WhatsApp group chat for postgraduate and mature LGBT+ students at Durham. Due to safety reasons, the link will only be made available if you directly contact the admins. You can either message the LGBT+ Association via their Facebook page (@durhamlgbta) or their email address lgbta.society@durham.ac.uk, or you can reach out to the postgraduate representative, Allen, via allen.m.drews@durham.ac.uk. The group is subject to the safe space policy of Durham LGBT+ Association and its general purposes are casual networking and sharing events and interests.

Academic and Learning

FutureLearn: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses.
FutureLearn offers hundreds of online courses taught by professionals from universities and specialist organisations, many of which are totally free! They cover a wide variety of interest areas and some take only a few hours to complete, while others might take a few hours over a period of a few weeks. Right now, you can even do a course on ‘COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus’ with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

ClassCentral: https://www.classcentral.com/collection/ivy-league-moocs Class Central is offering a collection of free online courses from the Ivy League Universities on a range of subjects! These look to be longer-term commitments than the Futurelearn courses, and require a few hours of work a week.

OpenCulture http://www.openculture.com/
OpenCulture has all kinds of free resources in culture and education, including schooling resources (for exasperated home-schooling parents!), including films, eBooks, audio books and online courses.

Language learning:

Apps

There are lots of language apps you can download that will offer both free and premium (paid) services, such as Duolingo, Babbel, Mondly, and Memrise, and you can often find videos on YouTube too.

Podcasts

Duolingo has a series of podcasts to help improve listening and comprehension, but they are currently only available in French and Spanish: https://podcast.duolingo.com/

Language Transfer has a new app alongside their website, Soundcloud and YouTube pages. A crowded-funded resource for learning a few languages including Arabic, Turkish, French, Swahili, and German.

For Families/ Children