First and foremost I must state that I am writing my review about Fonteyn Court in St. Cuthbert's Society. This accommodation is one of the few you might get if you choose to go for self-catered accommodation with no ensuite. Fonteyn Court is located on the Parson's field site of St. Cuthbert's Society; this is between the medical centre and the prison and a 10 minute walk from the other site. The location, although it may not sound it what with a nearby prison, is absolutely fantastic. Thirty seconds walk will take you to Brooks Bar and your post; two minutes will take you to the medical centre; five minutes will take you to Elvet Riverside, where most of the lectrues are; ten minutes will take you to Klute; fifteen minutes to the science site, library and to the town centre and other clubs. You are literally a stones throw away from the rugby pitch and two stones throws away from rowing on the river. I would argue that it is the most conveniently located student accommodation in Durham. The building was built in the 70s which you think would be cringeworthy, but it is beautifully modern and looks much older and quainter than it is. It is situated around a grassy courtyard which gets sunlight from early morning to late evening and is very sociable. This is good considering that only sixty people live in the building. There are six corridors of between six and twelve people with the bottom corridors being completely male and the top corridors being mixed. The facilities are top notched with toilets stocked by the cleaners twice a week and showers and kitchens cleaned regularly too. Kitchens are massive and are the main social hubs in this building. The rooms are bigger than might be expected and in them is a single bed, a massive desk, a sink and a wardrobe These also have wired network connections. The cost is pricey in comparison to other universities at around £95 per week, and this includes annoying damage charges that must be paid by everybody, but on the whole this accommodation is better than most others I have seen. The let is 38 weeks which allows you to stay there for two weeks over Christmas and over Easter.
I'm writing this review from a hall of residence in Durham so I have first hand experience of this! The College of St Hild and St Bede is my college and it's halls of residence are very nice. The College of St Hild and St Bede has 4 main halls, and some minor smaller halls. The college was originally two colleges which merged in 1975 so the main halls are Hild and Bede, with smaller halls being Christopher and Thorp, but students also live above Hild gym and Bede gym. All rooms come with a bed, sink, window, room to store clothes and desks to work from. Internet connections in the room are included, and all the rooms have heating. None of the rooms in Hild Bede are en suite but this is no problem because the showers and bathrooms are very nice and cleaned everyday. There are kitchens on each corridor but they aren't used that frequently because the college is catered, meaning that cooks provide tasty food which the students don't have to cook! The college has a bar called the Vernon arms, named after the former principle Vernon Armitage! This is a thriving bar, mainly used by the students of the college, and features a pool table, games machine, TV for cover sporting events and reasonably priced drinks, including the famous Hild Bede ale! I have little experience of halls in other colleges. I know that in some colleges many people have to share a room with another student. Some colleges have rooms that are en suite. Specifically Hild Bede offers Victorian grandeur and a great sense of community within the halls. Hild Bede is a great college.
If you are thinking of going to the University of Durham then you will have to make a further decision, which college to associate yourself with. Let me help you make that decision with my experience (I went to Durham and was a memeber of Collingwood college. I was there from October 1998 to December 2001). Durham university is one of the older universities and works like Oxford and Cambridge in the fact that it has a college system. This is quite nice and is what swung the decision of which Uni to go to for me. Instead of being in a halls of residence for one year and then being on your own for the rest of your Uni career you become a member of a college when you get accepted (another decision to make, which college to apply to!). In your first year you stay in the college accomodation along with your final year (if you can stand it for another year!). For the years you live out of college you are still associated with your college and can use all its facilities (not that there are many at collingwood!), go to it's balls and use its members for general support should you need it which is a nice feeling. That's how it works at Durham now more about Collingwood. The good points: - the rooms are some of the nicest in the Uni half with ensuite facilities - most colleges you have to share a room with someone for at least a term, 90% of the rooms at collingwood are single and so you are more than likely to get a room of your own. - it is, on the face of things, cheaper than living out (paying rent and buying food etc.) -You alledgedly get fed. The bad points - the food is absolutely awful and in recent years the university has cut the funding to all colleges so they get less to feed you on now, I don't think I need to explain what that means! -(This is the big one) due to the fact that they are getting less money (due probably to the government giving Unis less and less each year, I don't know what they t hink they are doing!) they try to make up for this by fining their students for just about everything. Some I agree with - setting the fire alarm off and vomit charges but now things are getting beyond a joke they have been charging for damage to the building that has happened due to the college's not doing things properly (eg not putting door stops in and the handles making dents in the walls due to them having nothing to stop them from hitting the wall), doors being propped open by the cleaners so they can get there equipment through, broken/stolen dinning room equipment (they got sprung here as they charged the students for new stuff that was alledged stolen by them but is only used for conference guests) the list goes on. What is need is for all the people who run this place to be thrown out and a completely new team to be brought in that will not try and wring endless amounts of money out of the students. No wonder student dept is going up if this happens all over the country. My advice is yes come to Durham but stear clear of collingwood, try Trevelion or Van Mildert colleges.
As some as you may have guessed (from reading my other ops) I've just become ones of those student types, y'know those scruffy people everyone hates! Part of the whole Uni lark involves living in student accommodation, which it has to be said isn't always necessarily great. If you haven't gathered from where I posted this op, I'm at the University of Durham which works slightly differently to a lot of other Universities. Just like every other University all first years get to live in University accommodation, but Durham differs slightly in that it has around 12 colleges in which students live. Unlike Oxford and Cambridge lectures aren't done in College - you do your subject with people from all the colleges. The colleges are more than just a place to live though, and provide a mini student community in which to live. Each college in Durham has a JCR (Junior Common Room) which despite the name, is nothing like the awful school common rooms we used to have. Infact it's not even a room! The JCR is run by a committee who get involved in some pretty heavy political stuff, but the good thing is that everyone who comes to the college is a member of the JCR and can have their say in the lively meetings. The JCR run all the student facilities for the Colleges, such as the bar (I had to mention it!) and shop. Anyway, back to the topic in hand.......my college! I chose Collingwood of all the 12 Colleges for one main reason - it was close to the Science site so I could roll out of bed to my lectures each morning without facing a 20 minute walk. As it turned out Grey College is even a little bit closer, but all in all I'm glad I'm I chose Collingwood. There's lots to say, so I better start at the start (which as they say is always a good place to...). First up the main thing you want to know is how good are the rooms in College! Having staid in 3 different Universities rooms I can safely say that Collingwood's rooms are not at all bad. The new block is fully en-suite and even doubles as a hotel when us students aren't here. Unfortunately (for me) these are reserved for last year students, so us first years get to go in the old block! Rooms are a fair size, and each one contains a bed (doh), a bed side table, desk, wardrobe and sink/mirror. You can quite happily get a PC, hi-fi and lots of personal things in and still have room to do your work. The furniture isn't brand new, but it's not as tacky as some other places I've seen! Rooms are arranged in blocks of 8 with 2 toilets, 2 showers and a kitchen shared between the people on the floor. It actually works really well, and although I'm always the last to wake up and get ready I've never found the showers busy once! It's also pretty good as you get to know the people on the floor with you, although I guess it' sonly good if you get on with your neighbours (which I do!). The kitchen comes with a water boiler, a fridge and a microwave. It's meant for snacks as opposed to cooking meals, the reason being that you get fed in college!! You aren't allowed toasters because they could set off the fire alarms, which is about the only complaint I'd have about the rooms themselves. Showers and toilets are kept spotless by our great cleaner who comes just about everyday, and even hoovers our room once a week and empties our bins! You heard me mention that you get fed in the college. Here comes, unsurprisingly, my first major point of complaint. Now cooking for so many people can't be easy at all, but the food on offer ranges from the inedible to the almost normal, but you can forget ever sitting down to eat what you would call a 'nice' meal. Breakfast is OK as far as breakfasts go, although it's very much continental style as opposed to a fry up. Toast, cereals, croissants, fruit juice and even the odd plate of beans are all favourite s, the only problem is making it out of bed in time, as it's served 8am-9am! Lunch varies greatly, although they seem intent on serving us a meal at lunch time, when 99% of people would prefer a sandwich. Chips are the staple diet at lunch time, accompanied by such delights as fish, pizza, burgers, as well as ample selections of sludge. It really amazes me that they can take some old tough beef and make in to as many different meals, but it amazes me even more how they can make them all taste crap. On the plus side there's an ample selection of salad (and rice and pasta salady things too!). Tea is pretty much the same, although you get potatoes\rice\pasta as opposed to chips most days, with a suitable selection of sludge like meals to choose from. There are some nice meals, but there are even more awful ones! You always get pudding too, at lunch and tea time which varies from sponge pudding to a donut. On the plus side you get fed and don't have to cook for yourself, and you do get ample portions (infact probably too much food), the only downside is that often it tastes like dog food! The JCR is the other main focus of the College, with the best bit being the bar. £1.20 a pint of Carling says it all really! Apart from the prices, the bar is one of the better of the College bars (trust me, I've been to all 12 - in one night!). Despite claims by the Bar Steward that it's the best bar in the Uni I'm not so sure myself, it's definitely in the top 3 but it's a close run thing! It's just like a normal pub to be honest, and despite the odd busy period it's often not too hard to get a drink! The rest of the JCR features a pool and table tennis table, as well as a shop selling a range of food and stationery items, and a pizza bar. At £3 for a 9" cheese and tomato pizza it isn't very cheap, but it tastes great so it's a must post pub port of call! There's plans for a gym which should be ready after xmas, and I nearly forgot the big screen TV for the footy! Oh, and the free Playstation 2! Other features of the College include a reasonable laundry (which even I can use!), a library (which I hate to say I haven't been to yet) and a Computer Room woefully short of PC's! There's a TV room where you can watch TV or read just about any newspaper (courtesy of the JCR). There's also a chapel and a live-in Chaplain. The College is set in a nice tree lined green location - where else can you walk to your lecture and see a squirrel running about!! Collingwood is one of the Hill colleges in Durham, as opposed to the Bailey Colleges in the town centre. It's about 10-15mins walk to the town centre, but most of the rahs (spelling? it means posh get!) live in the bailey colleges (and can be spotted by their pale pastel coloured shirt with the collar up) so you get to avoid the Oxford/Cambridge reject types! A taxi to the town centre costs around £3-£4. Next up is the question of rent. Due to bad management in the 80's the University is apparently short of dosh, so last year they put the rent up by about £300 a year, making it more expensive to live here than London or Cambridge. We worked out it was £96 a week, which may seem good, but bear in mind that you can get the same thing in Newcastle, 12 miles away, for £70 a week or less. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the University plan to continue these rises for the next 3 years, making a rise of £1000 in 4 years. Students, being students, aren't happy with this. Protests last year have led to meetings being set up between University officials and student representatives. The University are seen as being unwilling to negotiate, and if this continues a variety of methods of protest are being considered, with one being a total rent strike. Kinda fun if you ask me, especially as last year students marched on the central University building and had a sit in protest. Anyway, the gene ral idea is that it costs too much to come here already, and they want to charge us more. And we're not gonna stand for it! So, overall I'd recommend that it's probably a good idea to come to Collingwood, as I do feel it is the best of all Durham colleges and I'm not just saying that because I'm living there! It's a nice place, the food sucks but the bar rocks, it's expensive but as every college costs the same you'd be better off getting a nice place to live!