If you’re a “How I Met Your Mother” enthusiast like me, you’ll remember one of the golden rules — “new is always better.” As someone who lived in the same city for all her life, and was working 60-hour weeks, it was becoming a bit of a challenge for me to break the routine and try new things — things that were remarkably different. But coming to Duke changes your life in more ways than you can imagine. Whether it’s entering a new building on campus, seeing a wedding in the Duke Chapel, or even trying a new restaurant with friends — I’m constantly doing new things, and the “firsts” never cease! Here are a few of my favorite and significant “firsts!”

1. First Day in Durham

Durham is not New York, so you’ll be mighty disappointed if you expect to find Times Square here. But Durham wins you over pretty quickly with its own charm — thick forests, a beautiful and quaint downtown, and the feeling of community as you run into classmates in coffee shops and cafes. My first day in Durham was spent doing all the chores you’d expect — getting a cell phone connection from AT&T, buying groceries and other household items from Target, and unpacking. At the end of the day, as I headed out for dinner with my new classmates and stepped into a restaurant covered in Blue Devil flags and posters, we knew we had arrived, and it was a feeling like no other!

student apartment
My entry and kitchen may look empty, but I love having my own space.

2. First Apartment

For many international students like me, this may be the first time living away from home. Daunting as it is, there’s a certain measure of pride I feel when I return to my apartment after a long day. It’s my first apartment, and a place that’s home for at least the next year. Don’t obsess over what it’s missing — enjoy the freedom that an apartment gives you and get creative!

3. First Fuqua Friday

Fuqua Fridays are perhaps the one school tradition that’s closest to our hearts. It’s an evening we spend with people from all across Fuqua, and it’s a great way to kick off the weekend. Our first Fuqua Friday was held at Tyler’s Taproom in downtown Durham instead of school, which is the routine, and was an evening well spent, playing foosball and making new friends!

mms team
With my team, after completing our first successful project.

4. First Team Task

“Team Fuqua” is the phrase that captures most of what The Fuqua School of Business stands for. We are teamed with people with different interests, skills, and working preferences to work on academic assignments and other tasks. It’s a stepping-stone to build strong interpersonal skills, and foster the spirit of teamwork. Our first team task was to make a tower as high as possible with PVC pipes, which could support a book at its highest point. Having a civil engineer on the team really helped us build a strong base, and we really bonded as a team.

5. First Baseball Game

Understanding American sports is the first step towards learning American-style small talk. In our third week of school, the Durham Bulls (a minor league baseball team) were playing in downtown Durham, and we went to watch it together as a class. It took only about 30 minutes for me to begin to understand what was really going on. Whether you enjoy sports or just the food, there is no better way to soak up some American culture!

6. First Day at Fuqua

And the finale, the best of them all, was the first day at The Fuqua School of Business, being a part of the MMS: FOB Class of 2014. As they said, “You are here, that means you must have done something right!”