Now that I’m all settled in, I’m ready to start spotlighting parts of this campus that make it mine. I think the best way for you to gain insight about what it means to be a student at Duke is to interact with the people I interact with, to work where I work, learn where I learn, and eat where I eat. Check back regularly to learn more about the professors that have made my Duke experience unique and powerful, the facilities that make the campus beautiful and accommodating, and my peers that are refreshingly unique and driven!
We’re going to start the explorations at the von der Heyden Pavilion. More lovingly known as “VDH” or Vondy, the von der Heyden Pavilion is a café connected to the main library on Duke’s West Campus. If any of my classmates are reading this post, they’re likely smiling to themselves thinking, “of course she’s writing about VDH….”
Vondy is a beautiful open space with high glass walls, dark wood furniture, and an incredibly welcoming feel. It’s the ideal place for your morning muffin, a conversation with a professor, a lunchtime meeting, or a few hours of study (for the able-minded). Many would argue that it’s too busy and social to be considered a place where you can actually get work done, but I think the frequent run-ins and coffee breaks punctuate a heavy workload quite nicely!
I’m often likened to a piece of furniture in VDH – the room apparently looks off if I’m not in it. Most of my friends will stop by for their afternoon java expecting to see me working at a table or reading in one of the big, comfy chairs there. Outside of the guaranteed rendezvous, I think it’s the gigantic windows that do me in. When the books are bogging me down, a quick glance outside at the Gothic Wonderland is a humbling and gratifying reminder of why I’m studying so hard in the first place.
I’m not the only one that loves von der Heyden though, promise! It’s frequently used for office hours, informal interviews, and coffee dates, too. Occasionally, the furniture will be rearranged for an intimate concert or poetry event.
Bottom line: VDH is one of Duke’s not-so-hidden gems. And while it’s hardly the kind of place that will have you saying, “wow, that’s why I should go to Duke!” it will easily have you saying, “wow, that’s what makes Duke feel like home.”
If you need me, I’ll be in Vondy.
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