Duke Sophomore Year Semester Reflections

Hey everyone! I know it’s been awhile, but I need to give an update. I just finished my third semester of Duke, so I am now going into my second semester of sophomore year. First and foremost, I would like to say that when I got into Duke, and especially this time last year, I did not expect to be here this long. I honestly thought that this was some big fluke and that people were finally going to realize that I am a complete imposter. But this semester, academically, I’ve been alright. I think that it’s more than one factor, but it’s been good. But that’s not to say that there haven’t been some things I have had to struggle with. Lord, so many things… Because this is an update, and I do want to give a holistic approach to my experience, I’m going to break this down to a few categories.

  • Friendships: This has definitely been a different year than last year. I’m now more used to Duke, and I’ve gotten to know some different people. I have also learned that you aren’t going to vibe with everyone, and that’s okay. I am naturally a people pleaser, so I’m always trying to say yes to everyone and everything, and I can’t be everywhere at once; it just isn’t realistic. I’ve learned that some of these people are genuine, and I can talk to them and expect them to be there, but honestly, there are going to be some superficial friends. And you don’t have to be genuine friends with everyone. You just have to learn how to discern what type of friend that person is. There are friends I have for going out, friends I have for staying in, friends I have that will help me dismantle various forms of oppression. I have friends in every category. You don’t need to have one group of friends for everyone.
  • Personal Relationships: I am not going to talk too much about my relationship status, because I’m not that type of person, and that’s just in general. I’m not the type of person to make sweet and cutesy Facebook posts, and I’m not the type of girl who needs to be by their partner at all times. I am a busy person. I’m going to let my partner do what they need to do, and I’ll do what I need to do, and we’ll come together, and we’ll come together when we need to. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially since I’m a college student who works part time and is always trying to find a side gig. My school and personal life are something I value, in addition to my independence. I’ve been independent from my parents since I was 17, and to date, I put myself through school and pay my own bills and all that jazz. I like being on my own, but I also like having personal relationships. However, not everyone is like that. Relationships are going to be different depending on the person, and I shouldn’t worry about those who are in different places, nor should I worry about those who can’t keep up with me. I don’t have many standards, but I shouldn’t have to lower the ones that I do because “I can never get a partner that could possibly meet them.” My standards are standards for a reason, and there’s always going to be someone who can keep up with me, and I’m not going to give up because it takes longer to get to that person.
  • Academics: Academically, coming to Duke, I thought I was not at the mental or educational capacity to keep up with this school. My grades were certainly nowhere near what I was used to, I would come back from class and break down, and I always felt like I wasn’t going to make it. I have had many thoughts of transferring or dropping out, to the part where I was looking for different schools. This semester, I felt generally good. I kept waiting for the intense academic burnout that I had last year, but it didn’t come. I liked going to (most) of my classes, and I enjoyed speaking up and participating. I felt like I was good in my classes, and that motivated me to keep going. Now, here I am, already finished with finals, not because I slacked off and turned in crap, but because I pushed through and worked hard so that I wouldn’t come back to see my family with classwork still looming over my head. Last year I felt like there was one way to make a lot of money, and now, I just want to figure out how to make money doing things that I love. It may take some time, but I’m going to take advantage of the time I’m in college to get myself together. I may not be the richest person, but I want to be happy.
  • Activism: I don’t consider myself an activist, honestly, if you check out my other post I made recently, you will see why. But on campus I have definitely been viewed as one, and people want me to make appearances and promote things. It’s interesting, and weird, to be honest. I am not used to being the person that people look to for help. I do things because I feel moved to do it. My work is never enough in my opinion, so I’m always striving to do more. This blog and my vlog are different, but they both encompass the ways that Duke has changed me, as well as the way I do work. Having people revere me as some activist has no qualms about getting her hands dirty honestly scares me. I have no intention of becoming a martyr for any of the fights I take up. I just want for others, as well as me, to have a better quality of life, and to not be held back by things we cannot control. I have a passion for fighting for what’s right, and while this certainly didn’t start and will not end at Duke, being here has given me a privilege I did not have in the ghettos of Texas.
  • Family: Families are weird, but you only have one. I have definitely used my family for support, and my baby siblings have been my light and motivators when I worked late nights to make money. Being with my family has been key, and being without them at Duke has forced me to figure out different ways to interact. It may not be what I’m used to, but that’s what makes it so rewarding
  • Oppression at Duke: I think I’m going to make a video about this, so stay tuned, but I will address it briefly here. There has been a lot going on at Duke, and I started vlogging because I realized that I cannot trust the institution to properly document my experience. This school wasn’t made for me, therefore I need to figure out how to make it work for me. The university understands completely what needs to change, and they act as if they don’t, which has fueled even more issues. Duke is an academically amazing institution, but there are so many issues that need to be addressed.

I know that this isn’t everything, so I most likely will be posting a video to get more into detail. But here’s my life update, and now that I’m out of school, I should be able to post more.

-JW

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