January 7, 2013 by chl4393
Behind Enemy Lines: Day One
This is so weird. The whole way driving here I just kept repeating that phrase to myself: “This is so weird, this is so weird, this is SO weird, this is so WEIRD!” When I turned off I-40 for Durham, it felt odd, like I was deliberately making a mistake. Part of me was insisting, “This isn’t the right way to school! Chapel Hill is that way!” And driving up Chapel Drive, with the Duke Chapel looming over me… I kept thinking, “What am I doing here?”
I wonder how long it’ll take me to get used to it. I still hold my breath every time I swipe my DukeCard to get into my dorm, and I’m always surprised when the light flashes green and the door clicks open. It catches me off guard to unlock this room with the key on my keychain and find all my stuff on this strange bed, on this unfamiliar desk. I just opened my blinds and was surprised to see Duke out my window. When will it feel like I’m supposed to be here?
I bought my parking permit this morning, another symbol that I belong. I would not be surprised to find, next time I get into my car, that it had disappeared in a puff of smoke. It’s all so surreal.
But then again, I’ve been here for only 14 hours. I’m getting ahead of myself, I think.
But really! A scholarship program that sends the students to spend a semester at their rival university?? What a bizarre idea. Yet I’m living it out.
My first observation of Duke, compared to Chapel Hill, is that parking here is miraculously easy and cheap. It’s approximately nine times cheaper here— no exaggeration. And they have so much space! I wasn’t able to buy a parking permit online over break, so I called the transit office and they told me to buy it when I got here. I asked worriedly, “But will there still be a space for me by then?” The man laughed at me. That’s a legitimate concern in Chapel Hill! But his insouciant attitude was totally appropriate; getting a permit this morning was relatively quick and easy. My only concern now is that I can find my car in the endless sea of parking lots— which I now have full access to.
Although I don’t trust them, I’m holding tight to these little symbols, like my DukeCard and my Blue Zone parking permit, that I’m supposed to be here.