Flying Fish

Home Again
by Nicole Carlozo -- September 30th, 2010

When I received my admissions letter from the Nicholas School, I was immediately faced with a dilemma: to open, or not to open. As I sat at my computer, staring at the taunting PDF link, I tried to push aside all the reasons I had applied to the program in the first place.

But I couldn’t.

So I tortured myself for a few excruciating minutes, took a breath, and clicked. Courage is surely rewarded, as now I’m a first-year MEM/CEM student at Duke and writing for From the Trenches.

Although stressful, those days of waiting for news from graduate programs were exciting. Back then, I naively believed that the application process would be the most trying aspect of this transition. After all, returning to school wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I’ve always felt at home in the classroom and thrived in academic environments. This would be easy, right?

Getting into graduate school, however, wasn’t the most difficult task I’ve accomplished this year. Following that much-looked-for letter, I faced months upon months of apartment hunting, summer classes, credit transfers, vehicle maintenance, and moving plans, not to mention wrapping up projects at work and mentally preparing myself for a return to school (a goal that I’m not entirely sure has been accomplished yet).  And on top of all of these chores, I faced the transition from a tiny, liberal arts college in rural middle-of-no-where St. Mary’s City, to Duke’s massive campus with classes of 100+ students.

I’m here to tell you that the transition hasn’t been smooth, and most certainly not perfect, but all of the trials, obstacles, and stresses have been well worth the effort (even if I’m still struggling to piece together my apartment).

While Duke has differed drastically from my past experiences, many aspects of the school remind me of where I come from.  The passionate and academically-minded students constantly challenge me; the winding, wooded paths and gorgeous gardens beckon me into reveries of my college experience; and the long, wooden tables and stacks upon stacks of books in the library have worked their charms on me.

These little familiarities have grounded me in academic life, where I feel most at home. Yet, I’m constantly aware that the cozy safety-net of my hometown and the secluding peace of my college have no place here beyond the wooded paths or garden walks. Only by stepping outside of my comfort zone will I experience new things, challenge my perceptions, and surround myself with hints of the future.

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