(story read by: Olivia Liu)
You know those things Duke students love? Painting their faces blue and screaming their heads off at basketball games, rushing 3 different organizations, and posting mandatory chapel photos? I’d rather do none of the above.
My Duke culture apathy started before I became a die-hard blue devil. In high school, I decided to tack on another application for this school in North Carolina that was well-ranked with fancy looking architecture and seemingly solid academics. By some stroke of luck, I got in. But I had a physics exam that day so I read my acceptance letter one time through and then switched tabs.
A couple months later, I bought a $17 Duke logo umbrella from the bookstore and was packed into a tour group for a very rainy Blue Devil Days. Everything went according to schedule. I was even impressed by this opportunity called DukeEngage and I thought: if Duke doesn’t seem half bad when it’s thunderstorming, I probably will like it even more on a sunny day.
Nothing was particularly bad about Duke. I still agree with this as a senior approaching my last semester. Tenting was fun, but overrated. Frat parties are not for me. I don’t think I’ll ever go into consulting.
By the way, I would like to clarify--when I write “Duke”, I mean Duke as an institution in its most general form. There are pockets of campus that mean more to me than what’s displayed on social media. I have met life-long friends here and made memories that I will always fondly look back on when I think of college. But I still can’t wholeheartedly subscribe to stereotypical Duke culture. I wish I could. It would have made a lot of college less awkward for me and justify the exorbitant amount of money I’m paying to go here. At times, I regretted choosing Duke in the first place because a lot of the aspects that are unique to Duke don’t matter to me.
However, through acknowledging this realization, I finally felt relief. I could just be myself. The amazing part is that my friends accept me for who I am and I’ve even bonded with people over our mutual dislike for late night pitchforks.
I may never tune into a Duke basketball game after graduation, but I will keep in touch with the people who are cheering on Duke. So thank you, Duke, for being the place that I’ve grown to love in the most unexpected ways.