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Feeling A Little Fresher in the Wood
Halls Of Residence At The University Of Durham
Member Name: rob_writer
Halls Of Residence At The University Of Durham
Date: 23/10/01, updated on 04/03/05 (788 review reads)
Advantages: Good place
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!
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