Students are taught to ponder, to think, to disseminate. To break down arguments in order to build them up again. To view our communities with a critical lens. Sharpness of sight and sharpness of mind go hand in hand. Duke has trained me to be good at analysis.

Introspection is ingrained in my nature. I probably will always overanalyze the motives and intricacies of my own mind, my friends and just about everyone in the world around me. I like this part of who I am, but this quality has the capacity to exhaust me. Scrutiny can be exasperating. Pressure has its place at the table, but after two years of grinding at Duke, I want to ensure that my ability to simply exist—tranquilly—is still there.

Next semester, my writing will take place far from Duke’s pines, under which hurried students rush to class. I will be far from a chapel quad wrought with protests or the C1 stuffed with students packed tightly against one another. My writing will reach Duke from across the ocean, surrounded by a hustle and bustle of an entirely different kind.

Quite simply, my column will chronicle my experiences and adventures from abroad. My writing will document my long-distance relationship with the complexities of Duke life, the domestic and social challenges of American society from the perspective of someone outside of the fishbowl, and my cultural exploration of new places.

At this stage in my Duke career, I am confident in my ability to think sharply. Now, I want to acclimate once again to merely being. I look forward to no longer needing to rush. I will soak in the sights and sounds and personality of my new city, Rome, with no deadline or time crunch. I want to be a sponge, absorbing the magnificence of ancient artwork and cathedral walls without being expected to produce some sort of response or like a machine on a schedule. I want to feel the magnitude of sights that are older than me and greater than me, and to feel small in an enormous world full of promise and activity.

I have not fallen out of love with Duke, but this break is needed. It comes at a crucial juncture, hopefully ensuring that temporary disillusionment which arrives and flees in spurts will never become a more settled dissatisfaction. I hope that these months apart will revitalize me, making me eager to return to the place that has given me everything but also reduced me to exhaustion. I hope that taking a step back and peering in from the outside will provide fresh perspective upon issues and controversies both within Duke’s bubble and beyond it.

What will I be, if I am not pressing and rushing and striving? I am not sure, but I am excited to find out. I suspect I will be writing for pleasure and honest reflection rather than constant deadlines. I would venture to guess I might be drawing Rome’s skyline or running past its winding rivers. I will probably still be searching relentlessly for the meaning of life through deep conversations over coffee because old habits die hard, but now it will only be to fulfill my own desires.

In the upcoming months, I am going to play games with speed. I will hit pause on my fast-paced, stimulating Duke life and readjust to a new pace of living. I want to challenge myself to work my muscles in a new way, stretching them for depth rather than breadth.

Duke has stitched me together tightly, and I am glad I never quite burst. But I am ready to undo those seams and let what is inside settle naturally. I will sift through it and write about my musings and discoveries. After all, I have always been prone to perpetual overanalysis.

Carly Stern is a Trinity junior.