Moving to Durham was one of the most nerve-wracking adventures I’ve ever undertaken. And if you’ve been admitted, chances are you’re feeling that gut-tingling mixture of nervousness and excitement too. Moving somewhere new can be daunting, but the key to overcoming your fears is finding a few fantastic places where you feel at home. In order to help get you started, I’ve compiled a list of my own favorite places that I’ve discovered here in Durham.

I have always loved the outdoors, especially flowers, so it should come as no surprise that the first amazing place I discovered here at Duke was Duke Gardens. My discovery of these gardens was a happy accident; the serendipitous result of a classmate’s invitation to explore the Duke University campus. The garden is filled with extraordinary flowers, bridges, and landscapes that I would not have imagined to be so close to the school. Its grounds reminded me of home and helped ease my fears of fitting in at Fuqua. Today, I make it a point to stop by as often as possible and say hello to every dog that walks by.

a terraced stairway leading up from a pond in Duke Gardens, one of the spots that helped Robyn feel at home in Durham

Speaking of walking, my next spot is just a few short minutes from not only Fuqua, but from many of the apartments that Fuqua students tend to live in as well. Sushi Love is by far my favorite sushi place I’ve come across in Durham. For those of you who don’t like sushi or are apprehensive about eating raw fish, not to worry! Sushi Love has much more to offer than its name alludes to. The restaurant’s prices are extremely student budget-friendly and I must admit, I eat here far more often than I probably should. All in all, there is no downside to Sushi Love and I would recommend it to sushi lovers and non-lovers alike.

two artistically plated sushi dishes from Sushi Love, one of the spots that helped Robyn feel at home in Durham

The final spot I will share with you is actually two places. I’ve decided to combine them because they are both bars and they happen to be right across the street from one another. The first of these places is called Bar Virgile and it’s located in downtown Durham. This bar may be small, but it’s packed with charm! One look at the brick interior will send you back in time to the speakeasies of the 1920s. The staff is incredibly friendly and they even have some small plates to share with friends. This bar is more upscale than some of the others you’ll find closer to campus, but the trip is definitely worth it and their frozen mojitos are fantastic!

The second place is Quarter Horse Bar & Arcade. This magical place happens to host the city’s most extensive video game selection. Their pinball offerings are especially impressive. Even if you aren’t typically a fan of video games, this bar is a must-see. Many of the games are free and the ones that you do need to pay for are usually only 50 cents. They have a decent selection of beer and even have signature cocktails with clever names that are references to video games like “Dungeon Master.” If you are an avid video game lover or are just looking for a change in pace from the typical nightlife, Quarter Horse is the place for you.

It may seem unlikely at first, but after a while, Duke and the Durham community will begin to feel like home. I didn’t expect to fit into this city or to feel the comradery I’ve experienced during my time here so soon. I found my home at Duke unexpectedly, and so will you. All you need to do is embrace a new adventure.