As a second year with only two months left in Durham (after returning from studying abroad in Singapore), I realize that there are quite a few things about this city that I’m going to miss when I move to Pennsylvania after graduation. Now, if someone would have asked me 2 years ago when I was a prospective student “Why do you want to go to Fuqua?”, living in Durham wouldn’t have been one of my reasons. While it definitely isn’t NYC or Chicago, it’s not trying to be, and that’s what I love about it. Durham (and North Carolina in general) has a culture and a pace all its own, and here are 10 examples of why I’m so glad I chose to live in this part of the country for grad school:
Whether you’re interested in Broadway shows, concerts, or comedy, Durham has something for you. Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) has the best shows Broadway has to offer, and there’s even a student discount! The Carolina Theater is also home to comedy shows and musical acts and is located in the heart of downtown. My classmates and I have had a ton of fun seeing Bon Jovi and Macklemore at PNC Arena in Raleigh, which is where all of the major touring acts go when they’re in town. It is also home to the Carolina Hurricanes, our local NHL team, and an annual rodeo. During the spring, summer, and fall, one of my favorite venues is the Booth Amphitheater in Cary. Coordinating a bus to take you there for a concert should be on every Fuqua student’s bucket list.
Durham is abuzz with the “farm-to-table” and small plates craze, so you won’t miss out on the culinary trends that are sweeping across the country while studying at Fuqua. Local restaurants like Mateo’s, Piedmont, and Bull City Burger bring excitement to Durham’s culinary scene and offer a great place to unwind after completing a week of projects and midterms. If you’re looking for more classic dishes and a casual atmosphere, my favorite places are Dain’s Place and Elmo’s Diner on 9th Street, along with Alivia’s Bistro right on Main Street.
A great microbrewery scene in Durham is something I didn’t anticipate before starting at Fuqua. Triangle Brewery, Fullsteam (started by a Fuqua alumnus!), Red Oak, and Foothills are all beers brewed within an hour of Durham and are offered at most restaurants around town.
If you’re a fan of outdoor activities, whether running, golfing, hiking, biking, or team sports like soccer, there are plenty of opportunities around Durham. The American Tobacco Trail, Duke Forest, and Washington Duke Trail give runners and walkers alike green space to decompress after a long night of studying, and with plenty of road races around the area like the Tar Heel 10-miler, Bull City Classic, and Raleigh Rock n’ Roll Marathon, there’s always a reason to get in shape.
Business school is the perfect time to perfect (or start working on) your golf swing, and Durham offers courses ranging from beginner to expert, all within minutes from campus, which is something you wouldn’t be able to find near a big city school. Our golf club hosts several events each year at the Washington Duke and Hillandale courses, and my friends and I have played at The Crossings and even UNC’s Finley course.
As for hiking, there are several state parks around the area, and the Smoky Mountain foothills in Asheville are only a 3-hour drive. Eno River is a quick day trip on a fall afternoon and high atop my bucket list is William B. Umstead Park, next to the airport.
For students and partners that are more into team or individual sports like soccer (or fútbol), softball, football, basketball, and badminton, the Duke Rec Center always has intermural leagues taking place. I was on a softball team last year and it was a great way to meet more of my classmates, spend some time outside, and use the glove I’ve had since 1st grade! Fuqua teams always do well in these leagues, and our basketball team just traveled to Harvard and took 2nd place in their business school tournament.
From college, to amateur, to professional, the Durham area has opportunities for sports fans to take in their fair share of sports games. All Duke sporting events are free with your Duke ID, so if the past two years have been any indication, coming to Fuqua means that you’ll have a front-row seat to one of the ACC’s finest football, lacrosse, soccer, and basketball teams. If those sports don’t keep you busy, you can always catch the beginning or end of the Durham Bulls’ season in their newly renovated stadium. There are student discounts, but buy your tickets early unless you enjoy sitting on the steep grassy hill in the outfield (I’m speaking from experience here).
For those of you interested in watching highly paid individuals play sports, you can do that in Raleigh and Charlotte, which is only a 2-hour drive. Raleigh is home to the Carolina Hurricanes, our NHL team, and Charlotte boasts the Carolina Panthers of the NFL and Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA. Charlotte is also home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and has a race or two each season, which is definitely an experience you don’t want to miss while living in the south.
Some business schools have students live in dorms on campus and some allow prospective students to find their own housing with minimal assistance. Fuqua is great because there are five main apartment complexes all within a 10-minute drive to school that house the majority of our class. While some students with families opt for living in houses off-campus, one of the four complexes (Station Nine, Trinity Commons, West Village, Lofts at Lakeview, and Alden Place) usually has the right mix of features for most students. I have enjoyed knowing where most of my friends live and I like the fact that since most people are near each other, it is easy to arrange team meetings, group dinners, or parties. Not to mention, the convenience of being able to drive from place to place beats waiting around for public transportation, especially in the winter!
I’ve never been the biggest fashionista on the planet, but I do know that Durham is a good place to be if you somehow have some spare funds leftover from your previous job or summer internship. Every store you could possibly need from Nordstrom to Crate & Barrel to the Cheesecake Factory is available at The Streets at Southpoint, a 15-minute drive from campus.
If you’re more creative and more hip than me, you’d definitely be interested in the boutique shops around Durham and Chapel Hill. It seems like there are more popping up each day, so I can’t keep track of them, but some of my personal favorites are Magpie Boutique, STeP, and vert & vogue, all of which are near East Campus or right downtown. It’s customary for our Luxury Brand and Retail Club to have an open house at one of these boutiques where Fuqua students can browse at our own pace and even have a glass of champagne, so make sure to watch out for that event on our internal website, Campus Groups!
Whenever I get to be too stressed with school, extracurricular activities, or recruiting, Durham and Raleigh offer several escapes in the form of wonderful museums where I can get lost in beautiful works of art, whether it is contemporary, traditional, or a mix of both.
The closest option for all of us is the Nasher Museum of Art located on Duke’s campus. It is free for students and always has interesting special exhibitions (and its café is delicious!). If you have more time, the North Carolina Museum of Art is located in downtown Raleigh. General admission is free (with some exhibits requiring paid admission) and is host to renowned permanent collections. If you’re a science buff when you’re not being a business school student, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh and the Museum of Life and Science in Durham are also great options for a few hours away from finance and operations assignments. They also have adult-only events every month or so, which gives Fuqua students an even bigger excuse to visit. Not interested in art or science? Check out this website to see all of the great museums Fuqua students have at our fingertips.
One of my favorite things about business school is the fact that we get quite a few breaks throughout the year. Fall break, winter break, spring break, you name it, we get a week or two or three, off – it’s great! And Durham is a perfect place to have all of those breaks because you there are so many trips you can take for a week or even just for a long weekend. Charleston, Savannah, Asheville, Washington DC, Virginia Beach, and the Outer Banks are only six options that are located less than five hours away. Not to mention, Raleigh-Durham International Airport has direct flights to just about everywhere, which makes traveling for interviews or for pleasure all the more enjoyable. I’ve been able to fly to Nashville, Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, New York, Chicago, and Cleveland nonstop – there’s even a direct flight to London!
My friend group is my favorite thing about being in Durham. Because we’re not in a large city, everyone is centrally located within a 15-mile radius.We also didn’t come to Fuqua with plenty of local friends in the area, which means we get to build relationships with each other. I have met a vast array of friends during my time at Fuqua, including close friends from Boston, D.C., L.A., Chapel Hill, Tucson, Monterrey, South Korea, Shanghai, and Istanbul. This diversity is definitely not what I expected prior to b-school because I thought it would be like college where all of my friends had very similar backgrounds as me.
We host dinner parties together, go on group runs, try new restaurants and see movies – there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful to have so many great friends, but also the ability to learn about other cultures and even have a place to stay when I’m traveling overseas. Of everything I’ll miss after graduation and even while I’m studying abroad, not seeing all of the friendly faces in the hall every day will be the hardest with which to come to terms.
Durham is also a great place to be if you just want some “me” time or want to get away from the chaos that lends itself to the business school lifestyle. The Retreat at Brightleaf is a popular day spa in downtown Durham along with Bella Trio. For students that choose yoga as their primary form of relaxation, there is no shortage of studios, plus you can even take free classes at the Wilson Rec Center or Brodie Gym on campus! The Durham Yoga Company, Blue Point Yoga Center, and Bikram Yoga Durham all have a large class selection from which to choose that fits into any MBA student’s schedule.