So the free Fuqua bag is awesome. I’m not kidding, I don’t typically like anyone buying anything for me because I am rather selective in my tastes, but this bag is almost worth the cost of tuition. It’s just another one of the things that make coming to class at Duke every other weekend enjoyable.

MBA students at lunch
Harshad and I debate whether the food is better here or at home.

Besides class — of course — I’d have to say the best parts of my weekends are the modest, yet agreeable accommodations at the R. David Thomas Center. This isn’t a mom & pop operation, nor is it a dreaded white-walled dorm; it’s a full-scale mini-hotel complete with bar, delicious buffet, and the service you would expect as a seasoned professional on a business trip. So what do I like most about it?

  1. I get my own room.
  2. I get my own bathroom.
  3. I get unlimited food.
  4. You wouldn’t believe how well you sleep after a day of classes in your own room, with your own bathroom and a belly full of unlimited food!

So that brings up a good point, food. I’m sure you remember your undergrad dining halls which were likely good, but you still couldn’t wait to get some real ‘bought food.’ As time goes by and I become more and more of a businessman I find it interesting how that mindset flips to longing for a bite of wonderful, endless, free buffet! Besides the amazing home-made potato chips (with just a little bit of chewy-yumminess) and various breakfast items, I can’t recall seeing the same menu item in over 20 meals. Sure, not everything is for everyone (except maybe soft-serve ice cream with crumbled Heath bars, fudge, and some chocolate chips), but there is plenty to choose from at every meal including a full line of vegetarian and specialty diet items. And then, of course there are the two break rooms at the ends of the halls on every floor, which are also full of goodies. I couldn’t make this stuff up. It is like a food dreamland. Ice cream bars and Ben & Jerry’s cups in every freezer, juice and soda and energy drinks in every refrigerator. And of course for the more discerning eaters, there are healthy brain snacks like granola bars, trail mix and milk, too.

snack foods
I’ll take the Chocolate-covered Espresso Beans, please!

The last thing I have to mention is the chocolate-covered espresso beans. These little dark caffeine-laden pellets of heavenly bliss can be found in the bottomless stainless steel jars in the Fuqua break room between classes. Usually when you are looking at the clock waiting for a 15-minute break it’s because you are exhausted and need a rest. Not here. We all stampede up the stairs (professors included!) and fill our little plastic dishes with gourmet jelly beans, yogurt-covered raisins, gummy bears … and our cups with coffee, tea, Gatorade … and of course what break room would be complete without some kind of hot finger-food? Yep, they got that, too.

So the moral of the story is: sure, it may cost a little bit more to go to Duke, but like with everything else in life you get what you pay for. In this specific instance, I have to say without a shadow of a doubt, it is worth every penny (the education of course). Seriously, the comfortable and convenient accommodations, the great customer service, and the bountiful sustenance makes being an MBA student a little less stressful and makes me feel as well cared for as I do at home.