I am a nomad
I have a favorite seat on the Robertson bus.
I run to catch it frequently.
I am usually out of breath by the time I get there.
This is because I have enough on my back to sustain me for 24 hours or more.
As I sit here in Duke E-print digging in my backpack past a tooth brush and a chemistry book to get to my phone, I realize that I will again not be able to finish a conversation because I have not been back to my room long enough to charge my cell phone.
I ignore the call and look around me. Everyone comes in and out of the computer lab without stopping: they print and leave to return to their rooms that are doubtlessly less than eight miles away. Last semester, I did the same, but now I sometimes sit here for hours in between my classes or for a short while if I've missed the bus and want to catch up on emails while I wait.
My homework is no longer organized in the "my documents" section of my computer, but is instead saved on various hard drives across both campuses and I email it all to myself for future reference. My toiletries rarely make it back to the caddy: instead they get transferred from backpack to UNC room floor by means of a plastic bag. I take great care not to forget anything, because it usually means having to do without.
It is true that I am in my new room four or five nights a week, but they are rarely consecutive. My Tuesday/ Thursday 8:30 am ethics class at Duke makes sure of that. I used to complain about not having enough time to come back to my room between classes; now I sometimes have problems getting back to my room in between days. My friends have been supportive and have let me stay over whenever I've needed to, which has allowed for more sleep, but has also made my world seem very divided.
I have a home base at UNC. I am taking most of my classes at UNC. I am a UNC student this semester. But for some reason, I feel like a confused student with no where that is really home. I travel back and forth, back and forth, with my life on my back, never staying very long in one place. My room feels like a borrowed space, my old room seems like I don't belong anymore. I'm not really sure where I fit.
I have become a nomad; I have become less of a Duke student; I don't feel like a UNC student yet; but I do feel like a Robertson. This is the key element of the program and it is comforting to see the other sophomores on the same journeys back and forth, taking the late and early busses, rushing to get to class on time, carrying lots of stuff. I may be a nomad, but I am also an ambassador to both schools. People ask about the program, people overhear Robbie conversations, and they learn about us and what we are doing. We represent something new and exciting, and even though it may be hectic and lonely, it can be, at times, at least a little gratifying.