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Southern Colleging Extravaganza: Part I, Durham.

- Justine

Duke University

Greetings, teen travelers, from the state of North Carolina. I just spent a week relaxing in the Outer Banks, but as a rising high school senior, how could I not embrace the opportunity to follow up a beach vacation with college touring in a region I hadn’t yet explored? Might as well combine relaxation with reality, right?

Two days ago, my friend Harriet, her father, and I arrived at our first destination: Duke University in Durham, NC. Since we couldn’t get there in time for the tour, we walked around with a printed copy of the tour guide manual. That way, we were able to take the same route that the guided tour takes and simultaneously amuse ourselves with tour guide regulations– don’t call it a cafeteria, call it a dining hall! The Duke campus was beautiful and a pleasure to walk around, but it was very hot and sunny, so I would advise sunscreen, water, and appropriate summer apparel. My favorite buildings were the library, for its vast collection of volumes, and the student center, which contained a bookstore, supply store, a theater, an art exhibit, and various casual eateries.

My overall impression of Duke is that it is a competitive academic environment with an impressive array of activities to become involved in and top-notch facilities. For me, however, it lacked a certain flavor that attracted me to other schools– the students looked like they all belonged to the same crowd in high school, and they didn’t have anything exciting on the foreign language/international relations front, the two areas of study that interest me the most. If I’m going to apply to such a prestigious school as Duke, it should feel more right. However, I would highly suggest you check it out if you’re looking for an Ivy-League equivalent in a southern location.

I would also suggest spending a day in Durham! Since there aren’t usually any college tours on Sundays, we spent ours exploring the town around Duke. After breakfast at Waffle House, which I’m told is a classic Southern dining experience, we stopped at several stores on Ninth Street and West Main Street, recommended to us by a pamphlet we got at Duke’s admissions office. My favorites were Vaguely Reminiscent, a novelty store/fair trade accessories shop hybrid, and Regulator Books, a classic independent bookstore. Brightleaf Square also had fun shopping and a pleasant array of eating choices.

Stay tuned for my report on Davidson College, our next stop on our southern college expedition.

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