Duke TIP 2015

Lido Beach

Lido Beach

After the horror of last summer working with Duke Summer Session, (Duke Sucky Session more like), I was more than a little apprehensive about my position as Program Assistant for Duke TIP Field Studies in Florida. After a few flights, and having to navigate through the Atlanta International Airport, I finally landed in Sarasota. I tried not to have high expectations in terms of how enjoyable this experience would be. I told myself I could have an overbearing supervisor, gossiping coworkers, and terribly behaved students. “You’re here to work, not make friends. Do your job.” I told myself for the first few days. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything to worry about. My supervisor and coworkers turned out to be genuinely nice people, each with their own strengths and interests that served the program well. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to be a part of a functioning, albeit sometimes chaotically functioning, team who didn’t place blame on others, but worked together to solve problems. After the first week, I stopped bracing myself against the potential negative job politics and really started to make friends and figure out what on earth my position was.

Our dance theme was something about sand and beaches obviously.

My position was new and very flexible; we were basically making it up as we went along. I was used to being an administrator, making decisions, and doing everything myself. It was difficult at first to transition to being an assistant. A lot of what I did as the assistant assigned to residence life was programming and supplies runs. Even though I didn’t have a set list of tasks every day, there was always something I could do or help with. I got to go on a few really great field trips to aquariums and museums. We spotted wild dolphins and manatees and counted turtle nests. We even went for a boat ride on the Sarastota Bay and caught (then released) some puffer fish. It was amazing and I actually learned a lot. Also, DISNEY WORLD EPCOT!

I had fun captioning Renaissance art at the Ringling Museum.

at EPCOT with some staff! Man, that was a long day; my feet are still aching.

I really enjoyed attending and running programs as well. We had field day complete with an epic water balloon fight, a dance, and a kickball tournament. One of the first programs I helped with was painting, which was really fun because so many of our students are very talented artists. One student painted the Waffle House sign because “it inspired him”. I called him “waffle house” for the duration of the program. I still don’t know what his real name was. I also did some henna tattoos for students and staff, which was really fun and a great opportunity to get some practice.

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own "TIPsters"

Button flair is a must on your blue Duke TIP lanyard. These are painted by our very own “TIPsters”

fun henna tattoos!

fun henna tattoos!

I had a couple days off and had the chance to go to Siesta Key beach, which is the number one beach in the USA. It was super crowded, but the water was perfect and we had frozen daiquiris! #treatyoself2015 Such a great day.

at Siesta Key!

at Siesta Key!

On the last night after the students left, most of the staff went down to Lido Beach and had a few beers. It was so much fun hanging out and talking without any program responsibilities left. Well, I think I had one too many beers because I had the brilliant idea of skinny dipping in the ocean after it got dark. I didn’t think to bring my swimsuit, so I ran into the waves with my shorts and bra on. It was so ridiculously fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat. When I got back on shore, and finally found my shirt, I reached into the back pocket of my soaked denim jeans and found my brand new iPhone 6 chillin’ in its “life proof” case. Yeah, it has never recovered, even after two days in rice. So now I’m using my four year old iPhone 4 that has a stylish cracked screen and a whopping 8GB of zero space until I get paid later this month. #mylifeisbeck Did I mention my debt card AND my license was also lost at sea? I was seriously off the grid for a few days. I didn’t know how I was going to get on my flights back home the next day without my ID. It felt like the start of a really good urban adventure novel. If it wasn’t for my new friends asking questions and letting me borrow their phones, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get home safely.

Duke TIP family!

Duke TIP family!

I’m still waiting for my duplicate license, so I’ve been stuck at home all week and just returned to my day job at Starbucks today. Lucky for me, I have this handsome feline to keep me company all day.

Seriously, how can you not fall in love with Gigi?

How can you not fall in love with Gigi?

I’m definitely applying for Duke TIP next year.

Beck

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Postgraduate Depression

You know the classic story of the hero? He, or in this case she, accepts a challenge, goes through obstacles, faces a crises and recovers to reach her goal. Well, readers, my crisis is over. How do I know that my crisis is over? I woke up this morning and felt like I had something to say. For the first time since I returned from my summer job a month ago, I wanted to write.

Postgraduate depression is a real thing. It’s akin to First-year Loneliness Syndrome most college students go through. It’s probably the same kind of “freaking out” that all people go through anytime there’s a major change in his or her life. Postgraduate depression can be described as a prolonged feeling of “What am I doing with my life?” with the resulting echo being a hollow “nothing, nothing” that fades into the nights of Netflix binge watching and an old friend you graduated with from college, procrastination.

I got so discouraged that I deactivated my Facebook and started calling/emailing my friends that I wanted to keep in touch with (crazy concept, I know). I didn’t want to see day after day that “everybody” was getting great jobs or going to great schools. And I was just sitting here, with an empty bank account and empty days ahead. I know that social media is a farce, that people create ideal versions of their perfectly pictured lives to display for the public; but even so, I couldn’t help but think that I wasn’t making progress.

I spoke with a friend recently who is moving back in with her parents soon in order to save more money. She also felt depressed, like she was moving backwards. But we decided that just because we feel social pressure to get perfect jobs, move out of our parent’s homes, and start our “adult lives”, doesn’t mean that we’re failing at life if we’re not doing those things immediately. Everybody has their own path. Whether it takes you four or six years to get an undergraduate degree, you’re still working toward your goals. Don’t let people make you feel bad for taking time to figure out exactly what you want to do, or for working through obstacles like a lack of resources. The important thing is that you do have goals and that you persevere.

I use my sister as an example all the time. She graduated from college two years ago. During the past two years, she has continued taking courses to fulfill prerequisites for graduate school and made progress into her intended career by becoming a nurse assistant. Now she works at Duke University Hospital and is most likely entering PA school next fall. That’s progress. Who cares if it took two or more years? She has gone through countless setbacks, but has steadily worked toward her goal; no one can say that she has been sitting around doing nothing.

Some people would still judge her for moving back in with her parents this summer, but like I said, everybody has their own path. Until you know everything about what a person has or is going through, you can’t judge whether they are “failing” at life. People forget that college students are graduating into a different economy nowadays. It used to be that people could move out and start a career right after college, but I’ll be lucky to get any job that allows me to start paying back my student loans this year. So I say, screw those people; you do you. I may not have any immediate plans, but I do have goals for graduate school, working abroad and more; and I don’t have plans to give up, no matter how long it takes.

Beck

My First “Grown-Up” Job

I’m writing from my dorm room on Duke University’s campus! I’m finally here starting my position as Dean of Residence Life for the Summer Session program. The past two weeks, I’ve been frantically trying to get a head start on some of the preparation. It’s amazing just how much planning needs to happen before the staff arrive, let alone the students. I still need to finish planning staff training, complete the training binders, and most importantly assign housing! I’ve never had to assign rooms to students before and it’s quite a daunting task. I’m really glad I have a friend from last year helping me as Resident Hall Director. I really like the other admin team members as well. I came into the office all last week and am beginning to get to know everyone. They are all really great and interesting people. We seem to be communicating well so far; hopefully, we keep that up!

It’s so weird having a “grown up” job. I have so much freedom to make decisions and use my own judgment. While that is liberating, since it is my first experience as a Dean of Res Life, I’m using every opportunity I can to ask for feedback from my peers. That’s another thing; I’m the youngest admin on the team, even some of my RAs older than I am, but people don’t seem to be holding that against me. I can honestly say that I’m being treated as a peer. I feel that for the first time in my life, I’m being treated as an adult, and I really like it. Although there is a lingering sense of I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing panic, I think that may be part of being an adult too, not being afraid to say you don’t know and asking for help. I really look forward to this summer because I know I’m going to grow a lot as a person and a professional. I will also get to work with friends from last year and Elon. Oh, by the way, did I mention I’m going to CHINA? Yeah, that’s happening.

Wish me luck,

Beck