Best moment of Duke so far:
At a ridiculously early hour this morning, the dark quiet of my room was rent with a chorused WELCOME TO MAXWELL! I rolled over and squinted through bleary eyes at the crowd of people gathered in front of my bed. My groggy brain was slow to understand, but finally I smiled. They were all smiling back, excited for me.
As soon as they left, I lay back on the bed and said sleepily and happily to my roommate, "Oh Ellie, they were all here! And they were all my friends..." She laughed at my sentimentalism, but I was still reveling in the happiness of this unexpected announcement.
That moment, more than my Duke student ID, more than my parking pass or my belongings arranged in this room, that moment is what makes me feel like I belong here. It has been a weird sort of identity crisis, temporarily renouncing my affiliation to my alma mater in order to devote myself to its biggest rival. I'm doing my best to walk the line, but it's actually impossible and no matter what I'll always be disappointing someone. You will never hear me saying, "Go to hell Carolina," but I have no problem saying, "Go Blue Devils." Depending on who you are, one of those is guaranteed to be problematic to you.
I think that in nearly all situations, I can fairly and with full integrity support both schools. The ultimate tricky situation is at the Duke-Carolina basketball game... where I will be standing in Duke's student section with the Cameron Crazies. Can I wear a white t-shirt and remain neutral? Everyone here assures me that's impossible. Will I let my Duke friends paint me beyond recognition, and allow myself to lose my sense of individuality in the insane unified energy of the Cameron Crazies? I'm certain I wouldn't be welcomed back to UNC after that. Will I simply succumb to the internal turmoil this dilemma causes in my heart and mind? That seems to be the easiest option.
Regardless, it'll be interesting to watch how that particular situation plays out. I can't predict it at this point, but I can't deny that I feel at home here. Not more at home than I feel at UNC, because Duke is still new to me. But joining a tent group to camp out for the UNC-Duke basketball game was a big first step to plugging in here, and now that I've been invited to join Maxwell, I fully feel like I belong.
Maxwell is a selective living group here at Duke. SLGs are essentially a group of fun people who are friends and want to live together. Duke gives them a section of a dorm, and every spring they recruit new members (like me!) to replace the graduating seniors. Technically I'm a "Friend of House," which means I'm a member who doesn't live in section. But ideally all members live in section at some point during their college career. SLGs do a bunch of special events like mixers, formals, themed parties, and outings. For example, during rush this year Maxwell hosted a New Year's party, a TV-land progressive, bowling, and roller skating. I could not be more excited to be a part of this group.