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To be honest, my Duke Engage experience did not start out smoothly. It began with an unfortunate chain of events starting off with my first flight getting delayed twice. This then caused me to miss my connecting flight to Portland, resulting in me getting stuck in Chicago for 8 hours before the next available flight. Those 8 hours then turned into 9 hours which turned into 10 hours making me wonder if I was ever going to get out of this airport.

All my anger and frustration towards this one specific airline made me start thinking whether it was even worth going on this Duke Engage trip. I began to tell myself that it was not worth it as I was going to miss my friends, family, and the feeling of comfort that I felt back home. I remember my mom calling at the airport and telling me that I was going to meet new people and make new friends to which I then responded that I knew enough people and that I had enough friends; I did not need this experience.

Walking around the airport I remember thinking how easy it would be for me to just jump on another plane taking me back to North Carolina. Still unsure whether those feelings were genuine or just the fatigue talking, I got myself on my 10 pm flight to Portland and just hoped for the best.

5 Hours later I look outside the plane window and saw the city lights illuminating the plane and I remember feeling completely indifferent. It was not until I got into a taxi heading towards Portland State University that I began to feel the excitement running through my body the moment I saw the infamous Portland White Stag sign during the commute.

Living in the suburbs of North Carolina, I do not get to experience city life to this extent. I became overwhelmed with the feeling of anticipation and enthusiasm. At that moment, all the negative ideation I portrayed earlier disappeared as I was in awe of the city and its potential. After arriving at my room at about 2 in the morning I was ready for what the weekend had to offer.

During our first official day in Portland, we went to the PSU farmers market which was filled with lively music, great food, and passionate people even if it was a cold wet morning. We then went to the Saturday market where I got to experience unique merchants as well as some of the best street food I’ve ever had.

The following day we all decided to walk to a thrift store and shop together. Though the walk felt like forever, it was compelling to see the different cultures of the city. The most exciting part of the day, however, was hitting up the Portland food cart tours which were essentially a whole block of just food trucks. Bonding with peers over delicious food made me completely forget that my feet were aching and that I wanted to take a nap. This weekend was completely different from anything that I have experienced at home and with my first week of work coming up, I am sure these next 8 weeks are going to be memorable.


view of the city from my dorm room
view of the city from my dorm room