By: Casey Tissue, Trinity Class of 2016
This semester I am participating in a first-year internship organization with the Parent and Family Programs. As a part of the internship I am doing with the Parent and Family Programs, I have the opportunity to write blog posts and share the story of my college experience so far.
I'll explain a little bit about myself in this first post. My name is Casey, and I'm a freshman this year at Duke University I consider myself a well-rounded student; in high school, I ran track and cross country, I played the violin in the orchestra, I worked hard academically, I was involved in some community service, and I was a member of a few clubs. My dad was in the military, so I moved around quite a lot growing up. With that said, I feel I am a typical Duke student, if there is such a thing. It's hard to really compare myself to everyone else here. Duke students are each unique, with personal talents and characteristics that set each one of us apart from anyone else. However, we all have a common quality of being generally hard-working and involved in our communities.
Even though I've only been here at Duke for about five months now (September through January), I feel like I've already had the adventure of a lifetime. Simply being admitted to Duke was an exciting experience for me.
I was on the wait-list at Duke, as well as some other schools, but I never thought I would actually receive admission. Near the end of May last year, Duke called my home telephone, asking me if I would like to be taken off the wait-list and be officially accepted. Of course, I said yes! Surprisingly, though, I was not immediately sure I wanted to be a Blue Devil. For quite a while I had decided to go to Drexel University in Philadelphia. It took me a few days to think over how this would change my plans, and without ever visiting Duke's campus, I decided to attend. Without a doubt, it has been one of the best decisions of my life.
In the beginning of August, we eventually drove down to Duke, a six hour drive from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. When we finally arrived, it was close to midnight, but before we checked into our hotel, we drove past the Chapel. I was so excited to finally see my home for the next four years! I jumped out of the car, and started taking pictures of all the buildings, ecstatic about how much this place looked like the castle from Harry Potter.
Later in August, we returned again, but this time I would be making Duke my new home. Our nine-passenger mini van was stuffed to its maximum capacity. Packing for college was a scary time! I didn't know exactly what I would need since I hadn't seen my room. Perhaps I did bring a few too many things, but I would definitely say it's better to have too much than not enough.
The best part of my move-in day was definitely the team of FAC's (First-Year Advisory Council). They swarmed around my car, and carried my belongings up to my new room for me. Each member of the FAC team is assigned a small group of freshmen, and after moving in, the FAC's meet together with the freshmen and talk about all things Duke. Our FAC answered all of our questions, took us on a tour, and showed us some of the best spots on campus. For a few weeks we were guided and helped by our FAC, and she really did make the process of adjusting to college much easier.
The only way I can think to explain Orientation Week is "crazy." Although we had a booklet with a schedule of events, it was impossible to go to all of them. I had to pick which ones I wanted to attend, and everywhere I went I met new faces and learned new names, most of which I forgot by the end of the day. I knew I wasn't alone, though. It soon became a common topic of discussion among our entire class. Everyone was overwhelmed by meeting so many new people, not being able to remember them, and not knowing if that relationship would still exist later in the semester. We all wanted to meet our best friend that first week, but now that I look back on it, that probably isn't likely to happen. What is important, though, is that you meet SOMEONE. Anyone. Even if you don't buy BFF charm bracelets together at the end of the week, any friend is better than no one. And usually, that friend will introduce you to more freshmen, and one of those people could end up becoming a long-lasting friend.
While trying to make some quick friends during "O-Week," I was also trying to see what I could participate in at Duke In high school I ran track and cross country, so I thought maybe sports would be something I wanted to continue. I tried the Club Running team, and after a week of that I decided to try something different. I joined the Novice Rowing team, and I actually really enjoyed it. However, after a month of rowing, I switched gears yet again. Instead, I tried writing for the Chronicle, the Duke student newspaper. I had always wanted to try this in high school, but never had the time. However, after three articles, I ended my journalist career.
Ironically, the one thing I have stuck with was something I never intended to even begin. Club Running, Rowing, and the Chronicle were all organizations I had chased down to join. During O-Week, some girls and I heard about free ice cream (if there is one way to attract Duke students to an event, it's free food). A group called Cru was giving it out on the East Campus quad. As we ate our ice cream, we started talking to the older students involved with the program. I learned that Cru was short for Campus Crusade for Christ, and the group was a non-denominational Christian organization. They encouraged us to come to some of their next events, and I decided I should at least give the group a chance. I have continued to be involved with Cru ever since, and I plan to be a part of the group for my entire time at Duke.
In short, I realized that college is a lot different than high school. So why should I try to make it the same? Gaining new experience by trying new things, whether I continue that activity or not, has certainly taught me much more about myself than trying to add on another four years to high school.
In my next blog, I'll discuss some of the academic challenges (and successes!) that I've had here at Duke.