When we first arrive at Duke—clad with lanyards and outfit choices we later regret—the administration makes a huge effort to ease us into our new environment. FAC chats and carnivals are scheduled so we begin to feel at home in our prison-cell sized dorm rooms (shout out to Blackwell, y’all), and after a few days of coddling, President Richard Brodhead boldly announces it is time for our parents to leave and our college experience to officially begin.
We like to think Duke does a similar thing with its seniors, though it is not nearly as prominently displayed. Duke (finally) allows its seniors to move off campus after three years in mediocre housing (sorry Joe Gonzalez), slowly disconnecting us from the Gothic Wonderland we linked our identities to for the past three years. With Dan living in a house of seven guys and Danielle enjoying apartment life with two roommates (one of whom designed this awesome magazine) we usually only trek to campus for the occasional class. Living off campus allows us to relish having our own personal space, hang out with our friends in Durham and slowly cross the bridge from student life to living as an adult.
Some parts of becoming a senior are like becoming a freshman all over again. Outside of West campus, you find yourself reconnecting with friends you crossed paths with less often in Duke’s rigid social structure. It becomes startlingly easier to waste time. And for the first time in a while, the answer to not having anything to do becomes, “I guess I’ll just go out with my friends and worry about my priorities later.”
But then there’s the other half of transitioning into your last year at Duke. College student problems dissipate into real-world problems. Rent has to get paid. Bills need to go out on time. Job recruiting season ushers in stacks upon stacks of applications, cover letters, info sessions and interviews. It’s easy to lose yourself in that chaos. It’s easy to focus so much on the future that you forget to enjoy the present—the last of the four best years of our lives.
In many ways, what truly keeps us linked to Duke is 301 Flowers, where we assembled this magazine while listening to ’90s music and eating semi-stale buffalo-flavored pretzels. The Chronicle office, despite holding some bitter memories, has been a second home since we picked up our first stories as bright-eyed freshmen who considered deadlines a little more thoughtfully.
Being in 301 allows you to forget how old you are. It provides a sense of normalcy that lets you rewind in your mind to a time before all the job apps and bills and forget about the stacks of reading and homework we’re inevitably ignoring. There’s a stillness to it. It’s a sense of calm that we need, now more than ever.
Even when we’re forced to trek in from our homes off campus, the opportunity to spend a few nights a month up here provides us with the most valuable gift we can think of—the chance to relive some of our best Duke memories and make some more while we still can.