Sanjana Anand is attending Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and is majoring in biology with minors in chemistry and global health.
Q: Why did you choose to attend Duke University?
A: I actually applied early decision to Duke, and it was for four reasons.
First, I think after my experience at Country Day, I wanted a smaller environment where you can make meaningful connections with faculty members as well as students, but not too small where I couldn’t meet new people.
And that’s exactly what Duke is like. I’m meeting new people every day. There are always things to do.
I’m also prehealth, and Duke has an amazing prehealth program because of the hospital and the amount of research funding and everything we’re getting. So, definitely that, and also the student to faculty ratio is surprisingly low.
There’s a lot of opportunity to do whatever you’re interested in and there are so many clubs here that it’s just insane.
Q: How has the adjustment period been?
A: I thought being so far away from home would be a lot, but honestly I’ve been adjusting pretty well. I’d say it was a little overwhelming at first though. I have not been homesick yet and I honestly like that. I like this new changing environment because I don’t think I would have moved out to the East Coast unless I had to like college.
Q: What is your favorite class that you are taking right now?
A: I don’t think I can choose just because all my classes are really different. I’m learning new things in all of them.
Q: What is the size of your smallest class? Your largest?
A: I think it is only about 10 or 12 people.My largest class is a lecture. It is around 100 to 150 people.
Q: What is the biggest difference between those two classes?
A: It’s definitely different because the professor in my smallest class knows my name versus the professor of my larger class probably doesn’t know who I am.
I mean, in the smaller class, you’re participating more, but it’s more similar to a seminar versus a lecture. I’m not retaining information any differently or any better. I’d say it’s just a different style of class.
Q:What is housing for students at Duke like?
A: I have the worst building: the oldest one.
All the freshmen live on East Campus, so the sophomores and juniors live on West Campus, so you have to bus there. The East Campus dorms are where all the freshmen can stay.
I think I live in the worst building because it’s the oldest. I think this form has been here since around 1920.
In terms of my room itself, I have a corner room on the first floor, so it is very big; we have enough space for a futon.
The bathroom situation is a little weird because we have coed dorms.
Both guys and girls use the common bathroom because our dorm used to be where the first floor was all guys and the second and third floor were all girls. This year, they made all three floors boys and girls, and the bathrooms aren’t updated for that.
We also have mold poisoning in our dorms because the building is so old. I also saw a cockroach yesterday and I made my neighbor come and kill it.
Duke has this new system, Quad EX, which is where the people living in your dorm and another dorm live together in shared dorms on West campus during sophomore year, so it’s already pre-planned where you’re gonna live.
Q: What are meal plans and cafeterias like on campus?
A: The food here is absolutely amazing. I believe it’s ranked No. 30 as the best college campus dining in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. All the freshmen are on the freshman meal plan; you don’t really have any choice.
On East Campus, we have marketplace, which is our dining hall, and we have breakfast and dinner swipes every day. Every day for breakfast and dinner we will go there and have a buffet with all sorts of options.
For breakfast, we have a station called The Grill. It changes every day, but there’s a variety of French toast and pancakes with hashbrowns and different types of potato. We have Durham market, where all the produce they use is grown locally in Durham.
For dinner, there’s Mexican food, Chinese food and American food. There are a lot of food options.
We have something called Western Union, which is the dining commons. It is on West Campus, which is where you eat lunch and where all the sophomores and juniors eat, and there’s a combination of 10 restaurants. It includes a zone which is Mediterranean food, Chipotle, and there’s Tandoor, which is Indian food. There’s Il Fornaio, which is pizza pasta and wings. There’s Ginger and Soy, which is an Asian place. So there’s a ton of burgers, pizza, pasta fries, things like that.
On top of that, we also have other places to eat on campus. There’s McDonald’s. There’re tons of cafes and coffee shops as well.
Q: Are you part of any clubs on campus?
A: I’m in Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity.
I just got in so I’m pledging right now, but it’s been really fun. The community is amazing.
It’s a chance to meet people who are also in a similar field as you and get advice on majors and what classes to take. Also, it’s helpful for being prepared for med school. We talk to professionals, people have already gone through it. They advise us on how to prepare for the MCAT, what classes to take and things like that.
I’ve met a lot of upperclassmen through that, and we have socials and stuff so it’s great to get to know people.
I’m also in club tennis. Everyone on tennis here is extremely good though, but that’s a good place for me to meet people and play tennis because the courts here are very good.
I’m also the review editor for the Duke Medical Ethics Journal, and every semester we have a theme. This semester the theme is Medicine for Marginalized.
Q: Do you have any advice for the class of 2023?
A: I don’t really have advice, but you have this idea of what college is gonna be like before entering, but I was completely wrong.
So I’d say, come in with an open mind and be prepared for anything and everything. Be excited that you’re surrounded by like-minded peers who have worked equally as hard as you to be here.
Just enjoy yourself. It can be really overwhelming at first, but remember that everyone’s always here for you. It’s gonna be an adjustment, but you’ll find people here who you will really like to spend time with, and there’s always something for everyone.
Just remember that, and honestly, take advantage of the college opportunities because there are so many that I never had access to in high school.
— By Anika Nadgauda
This story was originally published in the Feb. 8 edition of The Octagon.