I am only three months into my time at Duke, yet already disillusioned with being on campus 24/7. Sure, the American gothic architecture remnant of castles makes going to class easier, but it is arguably natural to see the same scenery every day for months and start to feel stuck, no matter where you are. With Duke’s parking passes that often put your car at a 10 minute walk from your dorm, I find that the C1 bus is the closest feeling I can get to going somewhere. Whilst hurtling from east campus to west campus, I can imagine I am headed to a glorious mountain weekend or beach sunset or better still, on a tour bus in the countryside of France. All it takes is one unheeded speed bump to jerk me back to my reality of riding down Campus Drive for the fifth time that day. For times like these, when we are stuck here but tired of being here, I’ve curated a list of places to go on Duke campus when you’re tired of Duke campus.
Edens Picnic Tables
To those who live in or frequent Edens, I understand this location might not be your first choice to break away from monotony. For those of us who don’t, the picnic tables in the courtyard of Edens can serve as a nice hideaway. The first time I walked down there, I was struck by the tranquility of the space. The tables are surrounded by nature and the area gives off mountain vibes, which I have been longing for as “a mountains are greater than the beach” person. Whether there for work, a catch up phone call with a friend, or a nice nap (all three of which I have done), the picnic tables at Edens provide a mountain-like oasis perfect for a midday break from campus.
Al Beuhler Trail
With an entrance located across from the Science Drive garage, the 3-mile Al Beuhler loop trail is an excellent way to relieve yourself of the stuck feeling created by being on campus for weeks on end. It is scenic enough to help you forget your Duke-related woes and hilly enough to be counted as a solid workout. There are a few bridges and ponds and at the right time of day, the sunlight hits the tree canopy beautifully. For those of you interested in more off-campus trails, the Chronicle recently did a round-up of their favorite hiking spots.
WU at Night
Whenever I walk into WU at night, I am struck by how different it feels than during the day. WU at night is the sensation of Christmastime, being at Hogwarts, seeing your best friend for the first time in a long time, and all the other good feelings wrapped up in one. The lights, the secluded study spaces, and the giant glass windows all come together to create a nighttime ambience that, if you let it wash over you, makes you feel as though you aren’t really at Duke at all. Although WU is a daily staple in the majority of our college lives and may not sound like an on-campus escape, I urge you to simply imagine it as one next time you are there at night. It might just change your life because WU at night is the Duke Difference™.
The Arts Annex is one place on campus that I think should get more traffic than it does. Getting creative has always been a way of escape for me and with free studio spaces, arts supplies, and arts workshops, the Annex is an easy way to remove yourself from the campus mindset for a few hours. Even if you aren’t an arts-related major or don’t consider yourself an “artsy” person, the Arts Annex is still a cool place to visit, if only to get off the beaten trail of east and west campus and see what your peers are creating.
Grainger Hall Rooftop Garden
Not sure about you all, but ever since the day I watched Troy and Gabriella from High School Musical fall in love in their school’s rooftop garden, it’s always been a dream of mine to do the same. The Grainger Hall Rooftop Garden on top of the Nicholas School of the Environment presents the opportunity to do just that. The garden’s scents of locally grown produce and the views of a farther away west campus will give you a sense of calm that many of us haven’t felt in months. Although there is no guarantee you will meet the love of your life up there, at the very least you will have gotten to breathe the clean air produced by the plants and be rejuvenated for the rest of your booked and busy day.
Last, but far from least, is the beloved Duke Gardens. This is probably the most obvious place to go on campus when you’re tired of campus and for good reason. It is easily accessible from the C1 bus route and the sprawling 55 acres provide countless study, picnic, and hangout spots. My personal favorite spots are the South Lawn for bigger groups, the Sundial and Butterfly gardens for the scenery, the Frances P. Rollins Overlook for some studying, and the Iris Bridge for fun photos. The Duke Gardens make feeling off-campus when on-campus quick and easy.
Olivia Bokesch is a Trinity first-year. Her column typically runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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