Part of me is glad I never visited Duke for college or graduate school. I don't think I'd ever be able to leave. If I didn't have a flight booked for 4:30 this afternoon to D.C., I'd probably stay through the weekend and put in a last-minute application to Fuqua.I never thought I'd see a U.S. campus that could rival the splendor of Princeton's, with all its French Gothic and stone, but Duke really does it.
I was lucky enough to be hosted by a friend who's a true NC local and now a student at Duke Medical School. In between his studying physiology and my writing a pair of cases for my boss, I was able to check out a few excellent hangouts, from an artist loft-style coffee house called Straw Valley to a farm-to-table-oriented restaurant called Piedmont. Of course, there was a great bar in the mix, Whiskey, which struck a great balance of upscale, shadowy, but homey. I might think of its as "Cheers" for a town where tabacco tycoons ruled the land--it had a smoking section, and the old Lucky Strike factory was not too far away.
On Tuesday, I met with one of my case study collaborators at Duke and it was really nice to catch up with her and have tea. She also gave me a Duke Kunshan University T-shirt, that I'm wearing as I write (pretty unique souvenir, and awesomely designed). But given that I was staying with a med student, I mostly met a lot of med students. I even got to go to a Dean's luncheon to meet more med students. These people were so nice, so motivated, and real that they could have convinced me to go to med school--this med school, at least. The sense of community here is stronger than I've seen in any academic community to which I've been exposed, and I hope to feel the a similar sense of belonging when visiting business schools in the next month (without getting my hopes too high, of course. No decisions until December and January). Applying for MBA programs can be challenging without tons of work experience, but applying for a MD? I'd really have to go back and bone up on my chemistry and take another notoriously difficult standardized test. It's for the best I'm dealing with health through food in a non-clinical way, but that will certainly not stop me from dealing with a friendly next generation of GI specialists.
Durham would have been hard to do alone without a car, that's for sure. And it's for the best I was able to unwind and relax a little bit while I was here. In Charleston, the downtown area was so small and concentrated that it'd have been a crime not to explore every last bit. Durham is more spread out, and without a car, a little difficult to explore.
Guess that means I'm road-tripping for my next visit here! And there really needs to be a next.