Imagine, if you will, stepping onto Duke’s campus. It’s been a long summer, and you’re happy to see this beautiful place once again—or if you live on Central, you’re at least happy to see that your car didn’t get broken into last night and that your building hasn’t been swallowed by a giant sea monster yet today. But more so, you’re excited to see your friends. Now imagine that wherever you search, you can’t find them. They’ve disappeared off the face of campus. It’s almost like they’re in another country or something.
Welcome to the abroadpocalypse. It is the first semester of your junior year, and you have decided to stay at Duke. Maybe it was due to having too many classes left in your major, or overprotective parenting, or, in my case, an inexplicable and intense phobia of men who dress better than I do. Whatever reason you’re avoiding the Eurotrip, most of your classmates aren’t.
The first sign of the abroadpocalypse is the sudden realization that you know NO ONE. Who ARE these people in Perkins these days? How is Shooters packed and I know 10 people? As a narcissist, I refuse to blame this on my own unpopularity, and instead will blame it on the international end of days. You will gradually begin to notice that seeing someone you know on the Plaza is about as unlikely as Duke students ever getting into football. This is when the second sign of the abroadpocalypse hits: People begin to talk endlessly about how nobody is here. “I guess it’s not our campus anymore!” “I know right? I’m lonely and I have no friends!” And so forth. This type of sudden, socially acceptable self-pity will have you feeling like Duke in Durham might not actually be all that bad. Until…
THE PICTURES. Oh, God the pictures. The final sign that the end is here. All of a sudden everyone abroad has discovered that there’s no point to their adventures if they aren’t heavily documented on the Internet for everyone else to be jealous of. And as you peruse their artsy Instagrams of chapels, photos with monuments that they know nothing about and sloppy selfies at discotheques, it’ll finally hit you: The abroadpocalypse is now.
This is a tough realization. You’ll quickly move through the stages of grief—denial, anger, drunkenness, Pikachu, Raichu and, if it hits you really hard, Clint Eastwood. You’ll begin to feel something like a dinosaur, because all your friends are dead. I mean abroad. Whatever.
But never fear! There are a variety of coping mechanisms you can employ. For one, you can aggressively befriend sophomores. For the most part, they’re completely unaware of how desperate for love and affection you are, so act natural. Remember: No friendship that started with a creepy older person trying to hang out with younger kids has ever gone wrong!
Another method is to engross yourself in extracurriculars. I use this term lightly, as I know typical Duke involvement in extracurriculars entails making hollow promises during meetings and then posting occasional, socially-aware Facebook statuses and tweets. This is the coping method that I personally support. Also, I support pets. Remember that today is National Pet Memorial Day! I hope you’re all commemorating the holiday by giving your pets a well-earned day off. @dukepaws #beingacatishardsometimesokay
But what’s the most annoying way of dealing with the abroadpocalypse’s inevitable plagues of social media and deaths of our first-born basketball recruits? The b****ers. These people think that the best way to miss their friends is to have no fun without them. They’ll harp about how they wish they’d gone abroad, complain that there is nothing to do with all the juniors gone and basically make you want to ram a Prozac-filled hand grenade down their throat every time you talk to them.
Which brings me to my real point. What is so s***ty about staying in Durham? It is peculiar to me that at Blue Devil Days, one of the biggest attractions is the abroad fair. It is as if Duke welcomes you to Durham by telling you how to leave. And it’s true: Going abroad is an amazing, crucial, enriching immersion for some. For others, however, it is nothing more than a prolonged vacation from true academic pursuit under the guise of a cultural experience.
As a Duke student, I am confident that my education will land me in a place where I will be able to go abroad at other points in my life if I want to, and I know, given my interests, that I will pursue these opportunities. And honestly, I doubt that I would receive the caliber of education that I will get this semester if I were not attending Duke in Durham. So why should I spend one of the precious eight semesters that I have at this amazing University away from its campus?
I could care less about the quickly approaching horsemen of the abroadpocalypse. I love Duke, I love Durham, and Shooters has an outdoor patio now. I have no complaints.
Lillie Reed is a Trinity junior. Her installation of the weekly Socialites column runs on alternate Wednesdays. Follow Lillie on Twitter @LillieReed