I keep wondering what is so different from the people I hang out with here and the environment that I’ve been in for the last ten weeks and Duke and all its wonderful people. Aside from the material differences, the largest would be the difference in sophistication, innocence, and jadedness, all of which are more of less the same. Not once has our dinner conversations been about the stress of academics (not that others aren’t stressed here, they just don’t talk about it). Not once have I heard the incessant talk of summer internships and whatnot.
All in all, my friends and I don’t really talk about school, or career (not in the way Dukies do, at least). Our conversations are usually quite random, ranging from philosophical to down right absurd and silly. But almost always, we manage to find something we can all laugh about. It’s a good humoured, relaxing experience. I will miss that.
And you know, we don’t have to do this at Duke. We don’t have to talk about the tests we took earlier today, or the papers due tomorrow, or the countless meetings we must attend, or the internship prospects for this summer. Just because we live on campus and our lives are so inexorably intertwined with school, it doesn’t mean school and academics and the horrible stress must creep into every aspect of our lives, especially at meal times.
And there’s no obsession with lable, with societal approval, with beating the curve, with names. This is the part that I’ve never liked about Duke, or even while I was in Solon. I’m fully aware of being affected by all of this myself. I don’t deny that during my college-search process, name and prestige always mattered above everything else. Even today, I still cannot be absolutely nonchalant towards the labels and names that are suppose to mean something, suppose to elevate its bearers above the rest.
I urge my friends to read the Financial Times, to apply to all the first-year financial programs, to enter the competitions offered by the top banks. In essense, I’ve been telling them to do all the things a typical Dukie does. Yes, they are necessary. Yes, it’s practical. But must these “practical” and “necessary” measures we take consume the rest of our lives?
In the end, we come back to the familiar problem of balancing. There should be a separation of work and personal life. Maybe that is the largest benefit of living 30min away from school. maybe the actual distance helps us put a mental distance between the two?
I have no idea if any of this made much sense.