Life at Mildert

Jessica Kelly

College allocation is a very exciting time, as you start to feel really connected to Durham and (at least for me) it was at this point that I really started to imagine my life in university.

I know that many of you reading this are on the other side of allocation (and may have been provisionally allocated Van Mildert) so let me tell you a little bit about my college!

In Durham jargon Van Mildert college (often just known as Mildert) is a large, catered, ungowned, hill college… but what does that actually mean and more importantly, how does that impact the college’s personality and feel?

Catered college

A catered college is a college that provides its residents with food served in a communal dining hall. In more tangible terms this means you won’t have to worry about cooking when you’re living in college!

Personally, I opted for a catered college to make the transition to university slightly less daunting by taking one thing out of the equation.

Ungowned college

An ungowned college does not require gowns for formal dinners (formals).

So, there are two things to consider here. Firstly, what is a formal? It’s basically a college event where nice food is served and usually, there are some speeches or festivities. Every college has formals at different frequencies and formals can look different from college to college. And secondly, what are gowns? Some colleges wear academic gowns (like Hogwarts robes!) during their formals, adding to the sense of occasion and tradition.

At Mildert, we typically have two or three formals a term (you can choose to attend as few or as many as you like). I always feel like they’re big family meals, there’s a nice atmosphere, the food is great, and it feels quite special since they don’t happen that often.

Personally, I really like that we’re ungowned. I feel like it takes some of the focus off etiquette and tradition, allowing you to just have a blast with your friends!

Hill college

A hill college is essentially, one that is located along South Road (quite a long but not very steep hill). This probably won’t mean much to you (it didn’t to me before I came to Durham!) but it can actually tell us a lot about what to expect from a college.

Hill colleges are about a 10 min walk to the main university site and about a 20 min walk from Durham city centre. They also tend to be newer colleges with more modern buildings and facilities. Typically, they’re larger as well, both building-wise and cohort-wise.  

Mildert being a hill college means that there’s a great buzz around the college buildings. Since there’s more space up the hill all our accommodation blocks and facilities are in one place and there’s loads of nice green space to sit and chat, meaning you’re always bumping into familiar, friendly faces! It also makes my commute to the engineering building very easy.

And more

Each of our colleges has so much to offer beyond these buzzword features. For example, one of Mildert’s quirks is that we have a lake, home to a squad of ducks (of whom we are very fond and quite protective).

On a more serious note, though, Mildert focuses on outreach, with our students running multiple volunteering programs locally. There are societies in college to suit everyone’s taste as well as opportunities to get involved in university-level societies and branch out of your college.

We also have very competitive (and non-competitive) college sports teams. For example, as I’m writing this our second term is coming to an end which means only one thing in Mildert… rounders is coming back for the summer term! The VMRS (Van Mildert Rounders Society) is the backdrop for many Mildertians’ favourite memories, and I can’t wait to get involved.

Discover more

Explore our colleges here

See where our colleges are located here

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Jessica Kelly

Hi, I’m Jess! I’m a 2nd year Engineering student in Van Mildert College. I came to Durham from Ireland and have been having a blast at my college, university and the UK!

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