West Campus bus stop, 8:00 a.m.
Hundreds of wide-eyed undergraduates flowed out of the C1 buses on West Campus before the clock ticked 8 a.m. For many of them, a new chapter of their lives was about to begin.
First-year Yihong Song perched on a bus stop bench, waiting for his friends so they could walk to class together. Song felt more excited about the class, which is part of the “Virtual Realities, Fictional Worlds, and Games” FOCUS cluster, after participating in entrepreneurship lectures through the experiential orientation program Project EDGE.
“Overall, the program was very creative,” Song said. “Not something I would ever expect from an orientation program.”
Nearby, sophomore Anna Spitzer was ready for a challenge. This semester, she’s overloading and making time to meet new people, she said. Despite the busy schedule, she’s feeling confident about how things will go.
“I just know the routine,” she said. “I know it works for me.”
Bella Union, 11:30 a.m.
Houseplants and succulents adorned the windowsill, while iced lattes and cold brews lined the bar. Sophomore Elena Karas lounged on a plush green couch and took a long sip out of her cold brew.
“I usually get a vanilla latte from here, but I wasn’t feeling all the sugar this morning, so I decided to try something new,” she said.
Karas reflected how challenging it was for her to attend various events from the past weekend, such as Saturday’s Sophomore Spark Summit, because she was busy moving in. If the event had taken place the following weekend, she would have attended.
“Or maybe we could have moved in a little bit earlier so we had time to unpack,” Karas said.
Sitting across from Karas was her former roommate, sophomore Amelia Costello. For Costello, move-in was a “five day thing” for her.
“I only had my little Prius and an entire storage locker to move,” she said.
Despite the hectic last few days, the friends were excited to experience life on West Campus for the first time.
“I think I’m looking forward to my first week on West, like walking across the quad to WU for dinner, going to Wilson to work out, just going on walks around West,” said Karas. “I mean, it’s beautiful!”
Abele Quad, 1:15 p.m.
Outside of Perkins Library, students bustled towards the Brodhead Center for lunch. Pairs of friends embraced one another after a long summer away from Durham.
Junior Delaney Eisen’s day started off by accidentally attending the wrong class. But she shrugged this off, enveloping the “sense of camaraderie” on FDOC because everyone was figuring things out together for the first time.
“You see people are like, ‘Where’s the stairs?’ and everyone else is pointing out the way,” Eisen said. “I think there’s a little bit of community in FDOC.”
Senior Morgan Mackenzie was overjoyed about the sense of liveliness on campus. This was her first FDOC where she feels “just happy. It’s not stressful.”
But Mackenzie also felt a twinge of nostalgia because she feels like she just started her Duke journey. She’s trying to soak up the little moments, including showing underclassmen around campus and meeting her new professors.
She had “the best class” of her life, and after four years of college, she’s finally nailed down the perfect place to sit in class—front left.
“The board is visible and professors know you are engaged, but no one can see your screen if you need a moment to zone out,” Mackenzie advised.
Bryan Center Plaza, 4:45 p.m.
The midday heat gradually gave way to a breezy evening as students flocked to the green tables on the Bryan Center Plaza. Laptops and textbooks piled high on one table, while a fresh pizza from Il Forno lay flat on another.
Across the plaza, junior Will Henning chatted with his friends in the Duke Ski & Board club. As one of the club’s historians, he has been an active part of the community since he first joined as a freshman. He’s looking forward to tabling at the Activities Fair this Wednesday and leading an interest meeting.
The club’s fitness chair, sophomore Michael Herron, was also enthusiastic about the upcoming year.
“I’m looking forward to absolutely shredding the gnar, all the time,” he said with a grin.
Abele Quad, 5:00 p.m.
“Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid Cudi blared over the speakers as bartenders from Devil’s Krafthouse exchanged free drink tickets for cans of beer, wine and seltzers. This year, the Senior Class Council was able to host an event providing free beer and wine to seniors who are older than 21 years of age with a valid government-issued ID, thanks to Duke's new alcohol policies.
The last time the seniors were all in the same place was their class photo in 2019, according to Senior Class Vice President Anna Ajmani. She hopes this event will give her class the opportunity to reunite during their final year at Duke.
Marketplace, 5:00 p.m.
Scores of first-years hopped off the C1 at the East Campus bus stop, ready to grab dinner and share stories about the first day of college with their new friends.
Neyla Kirby was among them. At one point, she was almost late to her ethics class on East Campus after rushing from her physics class on West Campus. But she felt relieved when she noticed upperclassmen rushing as well. Everything went “relatively smoothly” once she got on the C1.
“It's like what you see in the movies [about college] came true,” she said.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Ana Young is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.
Sevana Wenn is a Trinity sophomore and features managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.