Having lived in two of the most populated cities in India, Durham could be considered an unusual choice for the location of my graduate school. However, I had heard great things about it and the Research Triangle Park area. So, taking a chance, I packed my bags in the middle of a global pandemic and began my b-school experience.

Exploring the Outdoors

Stepping out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport, I realized that North Carolina is indeed a very “green” state. Since it was summer when the MQM program began, the journey to my apartment was filled with lush green trees on the roadside. I came to learn of so many outdoor spaces and walking and hiking trails to visit here. During my time in the program, I was not able to complete all the trails in Durham! Of course, I found myself returning many times to my favorite outdoor spots: The Sarah P. Duke Gardens and Brumley Nature Preserve. And the weather here is usually mild, so you really can tackle that list of trails and scenic places!

Food and Entertainment

The food scene in Durham is also quite diverse, with many small and homegrown businesses. No graduate school experience is complete without bonding with classmates over food and drinks. My go-to places post classes at Fuqua are Mad Hatters Cafe, Juju Durham, Press Coffee and Crepes, Enzo’s Pizza, and Moge Tee. On weekends, there are other entertaining things to find here. The Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) is world-class for its music and dance performances, baseball games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP) to see the team renowned for its central role in the 1980s film “Bull Durham,” and there’s always dancing at Shooters Saloon!

What Else?

Both the mountains and the beach are equally accessible from Durham. Asheville or Myrtle Beach can be the right weekend getaway for adventure lovers. There’s also plenty to be discovered on campus as well. I am personally fascinated by the Duke campus, where I can be found spending most of my time exploring a quiet spot to study (like the swings at the Bryan Center plaza, Perkins Library, or the Duke Pond). There’s Duke Chapel to explore architecture, the Nasher Museum of Art, Cameron Indoor Stadium for Basketball fanatics, and there’s always a good workout waiting for you at the Wilson Recreation Center!

Vani and 3 classmates in traditional India dresses
At a Diwali celebration organized by Indus, Fuqua’s South Asian club

Durham feels like a tight-knit community living together in more than one way. All my friends at Fuqua lived quite close by (one of the perks of living in a smaller city) which helped us coordinate group study sessions, host dinners, and celebrate a myriad of festivals. This not only gave us a chance to bond in a more informal setting but also provided us with invaluable networking opportunities as we prepared ourselves for the career journey that lies ahead.

Surely, joining Fuqua was quite different from my undergraduate experience. The culture is that of a community and team spirit which is very difficult to find somewhere else. I didn’t miss home during my time in the program–I found a new one in Durham!

10 students in matching Fuqua hoodies, posing in front of Fuqua's Christmas tree
The Christmas and holiday season at Fuqua