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Life of a First-Year Intern: Life Outside the Classroom

By: Casey Tissue, Trinity Class of 2016

As part of an internship with the Parent and Family programs, I’m writing a blog about my freshman experience at Duke. My name is Casey, and I'm a second semester freshman here at Duke. In my past two blogs, I wrote about my first week here and my overall academic experience. In this blog I’ll talk about what I like to do for fun here at Duke.

After a long day of homework and classes, I like to kick back and relax in my dorm.  My roommate and I tell each other funny stories about our days, or we joke about the people running down the halls screaming (Bell Tower is a lively place).  The common rooms are also one of my favorite spots to unwind after a hard day.  Like some of the other dorms, we have unofficially designated our common rooms as “study room” and “fun room. While the study common room is less intense than the library, it is still a relatively quiet and calm place to study.  The fun common room, on the other hand, is a place for video game tournaments, late night snacks provided by the House Council, movie watching, foosball games, ping pong battles, and of course, cheering Duke basketball.

My dorm “Hotel Bell,” as many students call it, is home to a fantastic spa-themed room open to all Duke students called the Oasis.  With a few massage chairs, board games, plants, and even a decorative water fountain, the Oasis is a perfect place to relax or get through a few pages of reading.

My own room, the common rooms, and the Oasis are great places to combine relaxing and studying, but there are also times when I need to completely close my books and take a real study break.  A program at Duke called “Devils After Dark” provides opportunities to do so every single weekend on East Campus.  The organization posts events on Facebook, and hangs flyers every week in all of the freshmen dorms.  Usually the events are held in the evenings Thursday through Sunday, and it’s a great way to bond with my classmates.  Devils After Dark hosts ice cream socials, movie nights, cookie decorating parties, trips to the mall at Southpoint, ice skating, casino nights, trivia games, laser tag, arts and crafts, and numerous other activities both on and off campus (free bus transportation is always provided).  Recently I went to an event where I stuffed my own build-a-bear Dalmatian puppy in celebration of Valentine’s Day.  In addition to setting up its own events, the Devils After Dark Facebook page also keeps me updated on other events that are happening at Duke, especially the fine arts performances such as dances, shows, including the popular “Me Too Monologues."

During the weekdays, Devils After Dark usually doesn’t have events.  However, I still find ways to relax and have fun with my friends around Duke.  Sometimes I take a trip to Marketplace for dinner with a few people, and other times I have lunch with a friend somewhere on West Campus.  Or, if we want to be even more adventurous, we go somewhere off campus such as the Mad Hatter, Whole Foods, Cosmo’s, Ben and Jerry’s, Torero’s,  and other delicious restaurants around Durham, all within walking distance.

Although it’s great to spend time with friends and talk about everything Duke, I also like to have my “me” time.  Personally, I choose to spend this time for myself exercising, but many students I know choose exercising as social time.  Students organize basketball games, Frisbee games, tennis matches, and many other sports to enjoy each other’s company.  Others join intramural sports or clubs to make physical activity an even more social and competitive event.  However, I have grown to enjoy running by myself here, and Duke provides a plethora of different routes to do so.  I can go to Brodie gym and use the machines, run around a trail on East Campus (1.5 miles), run to West and back (4 miles), go through the Duke gardens, or explore the trail around Duke’s golf course.  Exercising, whether individually or with a group of people, is a popular way to stay healthy and relieve stress at Duke.

Another way to be involved socially at Duke is through joining one of the organizations the campus provides  There are dance groups, drama groups, singing groups, religious groups, community service groups, art groups, SLG’s (selective living groups), science and medical interest groups, political groups, ethnic and cultural groups, and many others.  I joined a group called Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ), and not only does this organization provide me with a foundation in Christianity, but it also allows me to connect with other Duke students outside of the classroom.  We have played broomball, kickball, gone out for ice cream, watched movies together, and bonded over other activities and events not specifically centered around religion.  Likewise, the other groups at Duke provide ways for Duke students to come together based on individual interests as well as bond over relaxing and off-topic social events.

There are plenty of ways to have good, safe fun at Duke, without getting into any mischief.  The school provides events, sports, and clubs for its students to help them take a break from studies while also allowing them to strengthen their interests.  College shouldn’t be all about academics, nor should it be all about music, sports, research, or work experience.  College is about forming a well-balanced combination of all of those elements.  Balancing everything can be difficult at Duke, but I’ve found that starting slow and joining only a few groups to which I am very committed has worked well for me.  I feel like I have a home, friends, and a new Duke family here.  However, learning to balance life at Duke is not exactly an easy task, and for students who want extra help Duke provides a free counseling service called CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services).

Another way I relax and relieve stress is talking with my family and friends.  In my next blog, I’ll share my ideas on how to keep in touch with relatives, and discuss how my relationships with them have changed since I left for college.

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