As I drove down I-85, on the first of many trips (I have now logged 6,000+ miles), I didn’t quite know what to expect of my first Weekend Executive residency. I had so many questions floating through my mind: what could I expect from my first residency? what would the class sessions be like? how would I ever learn all the names of my cohort? what would they have planned other than classes? As I pulled into Durham for the first time, I was a bit nervous of what was to come. But there I was — starting my first residency.

Shortly after my arrival in Durham, I stumbled upon what was to become a Thursday night tradition with Max (a fellow classmate) — running into each other at Chipotle, each of us grabbing dinner to take with us back to the R. David Thomas Center (RDTC), which is where we live and study for the residencies. Then came the obstacle course of carrying my bookbag, suitcase, school laptop bag, work laptop bag and my treasured Chipotle from my car all the way through the lobby to my room. You might be wondering why I’m bringing this up … just wait until you have to do it for the first time. It’s a hike!

The night before the first class session (the first few days of the first residency were team building and introductions), I caught up on some work emails and got ready for my first official day of the program. The next day, the alarm went off at 6 am. The breakfast at the RDTC was a great start to the day (fresh fruit, bacon and eggs!), and then I was off to class. Class started promptly at 8 am, and I was excited to see what the day had in store for us. Some of you reading this blog may have sat in on a partial class during an open house visit, so you know that the day is full of discussions and interaction with the professor and other students. There are also lots of breaks between classes, with trips up to the snack room. It was a great way to try to learn more about each of the 80+ people I had just met.

Classes adjourned at 5 pm, and we then switched to the auditorium for the first of several guest speakers. I always appreciate the time that the guest speakers devote to coming to speak to us, and even though it’s at the end of a long day of classes, I get a second burst of energy and really enjoy their conversations with us. Then once the guest speaker presentation was over, it was back to the RDTC for dinner and more socializing with my classmates. For the first residency, the night went on quite a while with everyone hanging out on the patio and enjoying a beer or glass of wine. Some people stayed out late, others were more sensible knowing that we had to repeat this all again the next day.

Later the next afternoon, I reversed the hike from my room to my car, and started on my trip back to Richmond, Virginia. I no longer felt apprehensive of what was to come. I had survived my first residency. And I just needed to find a Starbuck’s for the ride home.