Reflections on the Spring Term

As Spring Term 1 draws to a close, I can’t help but get somewhat nostalgic, in a manner not typically used when thinking about a period only six weeks long. But, in a way, this was an atypical term, almost epic in some manner of the word.

When it started, we first years were collectively rolling off what appeared to be a rather lengthy winter break, but in reality was little more than a quick breather, one abbreviated by inclement weather and a dogged focus on our career searches. Academically, we had grown accustomed to the regimented style of the core courses of term 1, while trying to sprinkle in enough extra-curricular activities to divert ourselves from the harsh reality that a strategy case was perpetually looming. After only four months at it, I could detect that we were facing a collective burnout of sorts. When we heard from rising second years in August that the first four months would be as difficult as anything we had done in our academic or professional careers, we thought it a form of hyperbole, but, by the time we left campus in December, we stood embarrassingly corrected.

However, as we found in January, there was a metamorphosis afoot. For the first time, we were able to broaden our course selection somewhat, and the consensus was that we appreciated the opportunity. Instead of living our lives in two-day increments, punctuated with cases and quizzes, we began to see this much ballyhooed ‘big picture’ that we had eschewed. Independent studies, globally oriented projects, and more discussion focused courses allowed us to begin putting our work into a much more meaningful perspective. Courses and extra-curricular activities began overlapping, stressing a cross disciplinary approach common (and distinguishing) amongst Fuquans. We began to feel that the work we were doing was building to something more meaningful, and even if that’s not fully manifested yet, there’s a sense of satisfaction (pun partially intended) heading into Spring Break.

Spring Term 1, further, was a time in which many first years reaped the benefits of their aggressive career searches. As classes began, we were bound by an undeniable tension, but as some students began getting offers, much of the uneasiness subsided. Granted, certain career tracks were in a much better position to be gainfully employed earlier in the term, but most would agree that even without a job offer, this was a time in which sweeping strides were made toward this end, and even if unsuccessful, we all strengthened ourselves by learning more and more about the invaluable occupational skill of being proactive in one’s career search, a feat that was simultaneously awkward, frustrating, and rewarding.

I think, though, that neither of these will be the enduring changes from Spring Term 1, at least not the ones that we remember most acutely once we leave Durham and take our respective places in the professional world. During earlier terms, the rigors of the academic load, combined with the ‘Section’ structure of the courses bound us to our section-mates, and in a way, this was exactly what we needed. However, as that structure waned and we took on a greater diversity of roles, we began to more fully embrace the ‘Team Fuqua’ concept through increased participation with the school at large, outside our comfort zones, and it seems, this was where the aforementioned metamorphosis was most apparent. As we depart for the summer, I have a feeling that having made this step will prove invaluable.

It may be little more than a coincidental synchronicity, but when we came back from winter break, it was below freezing and interviews were being cancelled due to seemingly apocalyptic conditions, and as I sit in the Fox Center now, I can observe my classmates wearing sandals and shorts, wondering why they’re paying to go to the Caribbean when we have near tropical conditions here. But this is reflective of the transformational experience that we were promised way back in August, and I think most folks would concur that this process expedited during the last term.