I didn’t know that everyone starts alone together.

Though that may sound a bit existential, I soon realized that I wasn’t the only one in the program who left everything behind to attend Duke in hopes of building a better life. Some traveled the next city over, while others flew across the entire globe. Regardless of distance, the MQM: BA program is a completely new element for all of us.

I’ll even be honest with you, I almost attended a graduate program at my alma mater only because it felt familiar (not to mention the strong network I had already established there). However, that same network encouraged me to venture outside my comfort zone and experience something new at Duke, which I do admit was an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up.

The fear that came with making my first adult move into unknown territory quickly dissipated within the first week. Although I incessantly worried about not knowing a single soul upon arriving in Durham, the MQM program does an exceptional job of fostering a sociable environment for a group of strangers. Orientation had plenty of activities, like a trip to the arcade, planned in a way that put me face to face with so many new people.

I came to learn that everyone in MQM has the motivation to build meaningful connections with their peers because this is a quality the admissions team actually keeps an eye out for. There is an inherent sense of genuine curiosity in all of us that allows us to venture beyond surface-level introductions. With so many new things to do and learn here, the conversation topics won’t die out easily.

I highly encourage those afraid to take the step outside their comfort zones to apply to this program, because believe it or not, you will find a plethora of new but friendly faces to go through it with. I’ve come to love my new life here, and it’s all thanks to the once-lonely strangers who gathered together to build a beautiful community.