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Life Hacks at Duke

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Life Hacks at Duke

The Tips and Tricks You Never Knew You Needed

Pam Petrick

10.27.17

If #midtermszn hit you like a ton of bricks, and if you feel like your life as a Duke student has gotten exponentially harder, you’re not alone. But let’s not make life exceedingly difficult when it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re a freshman still learning the ropes or a senior who missed the memo on some of Duke’s staples, use these life hacks to make your day-to-day Duke life just a little bit easier.
School and Work Hacks
If any of you have a hack to learn a month of Financial Accounting material in 4 days, by all means, let me know. In the meantime, I’ve compiled some suggestions that are sure to have you on your way to becoming Duke’s “best-worst student.” These are all legitimate suggestions, but please use your common sense. If you go so far as to find yourself in front of student conduct, that’s your own damn fault.

  1. If you have friends in a class, use it to your advantage. Sign-in attendance? Take turns signing each other in so that when you have to skip to work on a paper, your participation grade is still going to be on point.
  2. If you’re struggling with a research paper, tell the teacher you need more time. Not because you’re a slacker, but because you’ve done too much research and need more time to craft your PhD worthy idea.
  3. Speaking of which, those people who hang in the front of Perkins, behind the desk? The librarians? Use them! They can help you find a book on any topic, from aardvarks to zabutons (look it up).
  4. STINF. The school created this lifeline for the reason we all know and love. As the teachers say, “Use it, and don’t (be afraid to) abuse it.”
Shooters Hacks
Shooters, my beloved Shooters. You’ve brought me so many great memories (or lack thereof). From my calculations, I’ve attended our holy grail of nightlife on average 3 times a week for 3 years. As you can imagine, I’ve had ample time to learn the ropes:
  1. Shooters is all fun and games until you’re caught with X-marked hands holding a vodka soda. Fear not, young Padawans. Put Chapstick on the back of your hands, so that you can beeline to the bathroom and easily wash them off.
  2. If you’re bringing a jacket, hide it in the furnace. You can’t be wasting 2 precious minutes dealing with the coat check. Last semester, I left it there for a week and lo and behold, I got the jacket back safe and sound from behind the register.
  3. That rule about the minimum on your card? Instead of ordering yourself three more tequila shots, keep your tab open and then close it at the end of the night.
  4. The upstairs bar is usually less crowded and much easier to get a drink at.
  5. There’s nothing more frustrating than a Shooters line. When the “over 21” line is too long, use the “under 21” line and get your wristband there.
  6. This is underrated, but swallow your pride and arrive before 11:35 PM to beat the line altogether. I promise your social standing will not be compromised by showing up punctually.
Relationship Hacks
I believe that with this many smart, talented, Type-A, 20-somethings in one place, it must be possible to find a relationship at Duke. However, I’m not going to pretend to have these mythical skills. For these hacks I had to go to an expert: this female student has had not one, not two, but four long-term, legitimate relationships while at Duke. We’re not talking a DFMO at Shooters and a next-day follow-up text (bless your soul if you’re so lucky). This is the real deal and an unbelievable feat given our hookup culture. How does she do it, you so desperately ask?
“I’ve met most of them in classes and at mixers with my sorority. People don’t take these opportunities seriously enough.”
Relax, I’m thinking the same thing as you: “What the heck! I go to class; I’m a social butterfly; I have a pulse – still single. Tell me something I don’t know.” Before you slam your laptop shut, consider your outlook on the whole thing.
Our relationship guru explains, “My biggest advice is to stop thinking your next boyfriend or girlfriend is going to be a person you already know. There are SO many [people] at Duke. Don’t write them off because they’re in a group you don’t know or are a classmate you’ve never talked to; you’re not doing yourself a favor.”
And for girls, communication is key: “I also think you should always use exclamation points. Boys love girls who use exclamation points!!” So there, it was completely valid for me to consult four friends before deciding on “Hey” or “Hey!!”
As time goes on it’s easy to think that you’ve left no stone unturned. But before you close your stone-cold heart off from this campus, keep an open mind and embrace the unexpected.
Food Hacks
Before the Dick Center, food options on West were slim. My freshman and sophomore year I despairingly tried each and every food option in Vondy (do the kids call it the Perk these days?). Time after time I approached the café with misplaced hope of the selection being different. I think the same wraps and sandwiches are still being offered today. When I returned to campus last year as a junior, I felt like Jasmine singing “A Whole New World.” I’ve since expanded my food horizons, and compiled some pro-tips for you all to try:
  1. Lunch at the Law School. Less intimidating than it sounds and worth the hike.
  2. Eat at Pitchforks. You can do anything there (even make your own guac).
  3. Take cooking supplies from Marketplace, such as a waffle iron (apparently this has successfully been done, although I don’t condone thievery).
  4. Keep your coffee cup from Vondy and refill it without having to pay.
  5. Buy groceries at Bella Union or Uncle Harry’s on food points.
  6. Have a fancy meal at the Commons on food points.
  7. Visit Quenchers in Wilson for dried fruit and protein bars (and maybe work out? But probs not).
Parking Hacks
Duke parking. Nuff said. I believe an anecdote can capture the struggle: sophomore year upon returning from winter break, I was shocked and concerned to see that my car was simply missing from the Central Parking lot. Poof. Gone. I ran through a script in my head: “Dad, I lost the car.” Thankfully I realized that in my haze of finals week stress, I left my car in Allen for 3 cold December weeks. After a wild goose chase, the parking office informed me that my car had been towed to the impound lot. Moral of the story, don’t be a Pam and misplace your car.

Duke parking doesn’t have to be the bane of your existence anymore, or at least not all the time. See below:
  1. Next time you have a class in Sanford, save yourself a solid 10 minutes of speed-walking from the BC and use the Fuqua lot.
  2. When the BC parking garage has a sign out that says “Garage Full,” just smile, put your pedal to the metal, and swerve right around that sign. You’re trying to tell me not one car has left the garage in the time from when that sign was put up?
  3. Bribe. $50 is reasonable price to pay the tow truck driver when you catch him just before driving off with your car into the sunset - and it’s a lot less than a $150 fine.
There you have it. I’ve given you some phenomenal advice to help you with your most troubling and pressing concerns here at Duke. You can thank me later - now go and get ready to start living your best life!