Monday, July 2, 2012

Magical Castle and Green Everywhere: The First Day

Today is the first day of our 26 days away from home, and I can honestly say everything went very smooth.  There were no troubles, not even the slightest. All of our suitcases were weighed perfectly under the 50 lb. limit, perhaps even under 45. Our shuttle arrived on time. We got to the airport before 5 AM. Security check was the fastest I’ve ever been through. Our transfer flight was no rush and no wait as well. The hotel check-in was very fast. Everything just seemed to go with us, not against us. All of the things we had to do fell right into place, from our departure from El Cerrito High School to the Hilton in Durham where I’m now writing this blog post.
Waiting for our plane at Oakland Airport!
We got the van!
The very first thing that I noticed about North Carolina is how green it is! It really is a beautiful place to be in. Endless tall trees surround you at every turn, and it’s as if you are hidden in the forest (especially when you're at Duke University). I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many trees and green of that volume until today. I told Mr. Mannix, “It must be really nice outside, probably a lot of oxygen.” Well, I stepped outside, and it wasn’t as hot as I expected, although not as fresh as I expected. However, once I started lugging my luggage up a little staircase, I started to already sweat. On top of that, it really wasn’t as refreshing as I thought, and it kind of smelled funny. I guess I forgot what humid weather is like. Nonetheless, it actually was refreshing once the sun went down and when things started to cool off. That was very satisfying.  I can go on and on about how adventurous and how amazing this trip has been so far, but I’d much better like to talk about the school we visited today: Duke University.
So much green...and haze.
My hotel room--all to myself!
Today, our cohort had the opportunity to have a tour by the Students of Internal Affairs—before we have a tour guide with just the history and facts of the school tomorrow morning. This was perfect, because it is always valuable to have the actual students give their input about their experience at the school. And we could tell when the students were arguing about their experiences at Duke, that there is just so much to experience here. However, all of them reminded us that any college you go to—not just Dukeyou put in how much you want out of it. At Duke, the academics are tough, but do-ableas long as you are focused.

One of the things I loved about this school is just how liberal it is. The only required course is a writing course, which there are many to choose from. If your major doesn't relate to the class, then you are not required to take the class. This is one of the key things I like about the academics here so far. Duke is considered a liberal arts college, and at the moment, liberal arts colleges are what I'm looking into in prepration for my college applications.

As I mentioned in my pre-departure post, Duke was the one of the four schools that I’ve been most wanting to visit, and I think I know why now. The school is magical, and it resembles a castle in my opinion—almost like Hogwarts! As you can see, I’m a pretty big Harry Potter fan. Anyway, I really wasn’t prepared for how enormous the campus was. Before this trip, I looked up images of Duke on Google, and it showed me very few buildings, and it gave me the impression that Duke was a pretty small college. However, immediately stepping on to the campus with the tour from the students, I was utterly amazed. We kept seeing more and more, and it’s just amazing how spread out everything is. Yet, one student mentioned that your dorm can be right next to your class in the neighboring building.
The Chapel at Duke
The only thing that is not of my utter most interest of Duke is how secluded it is from the city life. Although perhaps my opinion about what type of surroundings I’d like my future college to have will change, because I’m not sure if the such spirited culture of Duke will be the same if the city surrounded it. The campus really is a unique area, and it is nice to just be in a student-friendly environment. In fact, the four students told us that 97% of the time, you’ll know someone you see at Duke, and they were very right. Almost every person who crossed their paths, they gave a nice greeting to. With that said, I think the number of students here is perfect (about 6,000 undergraduates and 6,000 graduates). With such little enrollment at the school, it’s amazing how involved students are. For example, if you see their school newspaper, you’ll be intrigued of how much effort the students put into it (although the students told us it was much bigger than normal). Well, enough about Duke. There will be more talk about this amazing school tomorrow, when we have a “normal” tour in the morning.
Well this day has been very long but very worthwhilemore to come tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    Do you recall what I’ve been telling you about the value of seeing a campus first hand instead of on relying on their web sites? There is so much more to these schools than they could ever put on their site. And meeting with the students is a HUGE plus, too. Rather than reading what a polished professional wants you to know about the school, wouldn't you rather hear directly from students who are living the life there?

    I look forward to reading more in future blogs.