Thursday, 13 March 2014

Day 63: Durham, North Carolina...and first hostel experience

So, my flight got delayed so it's now nearly 12am and I'm not yet at my hostel for the night. Need to get decent sleep before conference tomorrow so this post will get written tomorrow!

But while I'm waiting...some WWWs today:

1. Really enjoyed seeing Duke University's campus. It is super green and beautiful. Especially appreciated their impressive chapel and the huge garden they had.
2. My plane landed safely. That is always a good thing.

Edited 14/03/14!

Here is the proper post.

We got the bus from Richmond in the morning to Durham, North Carolina. Arrived at noon, got lunch, spent a couple of hours exploring Duke's campus, then left for our flights back to DC & Philly, respectively. So yeahhhh we literally spent less than an afternoon in Durham...possibly ill-conceived (mea culpa!), but hey, at least we can tick another destination off our bucket lists! Plus, Duke actually was very beautiful. Look:

Sarah P. Duke garden!
This garden is huge!! And probably unbelievably beautiful when the flowers bloom in Spring.
Even the Admissions office is cute.
Duke Chapel.
This place is about as big as St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne. It's HUGE!
Pretty building.
Duke apparel is cheaper than Penn's.
And if you're really keen, you can even buy Duke chairs! 
Worst photo ever. Posted just for lulz. Visited the Cameron Stadium (basketball). It was pitch-black, but at least I know that they're environmentally friendly, not wasting light when there are no players on the court!
Thought I might as well wander around the psychology/sociology building. Was hoping to get a sense of the kind of research taking place here.
Such as this. An interesting topic indeed!
This made me smile too. Mentoring should totally be recognised more at Melbourne (and higher ed in general). Mentors are awesome!
Another pretty building.
So that was all fairly smooth sailing, until the evening, when my plane got delayed for about an hour, so I didn't get to my hostel in DC until nearly 12am. And when I got there, I was greeted by an EXTREMELY frazzled manager. I mean, this dude was frazzled to the max. Why? Well, due to errors in their system, they screwed up royally and totally overbooked their hostel, because various sites kept advertising their beds even though they were booked. This has been going on for about 2 weeks. Since I'd arrived so late, I didn't get the bed I booked (they gave it to someone else), but they managed to find me a bed in the incomplete hostel they were renovating two doors away. For a moment there I was actually worried that I was not going to have a bed for the night, because they actually had to turn people away after a certain point. So it ended up ok. But the dude seriously needs to stop complaining to every single customer (he's still doing it!!) about how shit the situation is and how he needs to fix it and how it's a total nightmare...I felt like I was giving him therapy or something ("Sounds like it's been really stressful"), and it was 12am! I do appreciate his efforts in trying his best to make sure everyone got a bed though, even if it meant calling up every hotel/hostel in DC and being resourceful with using spaces that hadn't been completed yet.

What did I learn? 

  • Shared shuttles aren't necessarily faster than public transport. I was totally mehhhhhing at the thought of a 1 hour journey on two buses to get to my hostel from the airport, which would have got me there just before 12am. So I decided on a whim to go for the shuttle bus that was at the airport, and it got me there at about 11.40am. So, it wasn't that much faster and at $29, nearly 10x more expensive. Possibly more reliable, comfortable and safe though.
  • Travelling is definitely an opportunity to practice mindfulness and acceptance. There is great value in a mindset that I realised could be a gratitude exercise - let's call it the "could be worse/at least I have ___" exercise! "Sure, I booked a bed in a four-person dorm and ended up in an unfinished 8-person dorm, but hey it could be worse, at least I still have a bed, a working toilet, and running water!!!" Also, I realised that my 4-day hike around Lake Waikaremoana over summer definitely helped build some resilience and tolerance for not-so-ideal conditions. Bare-essentials accommodation on hikes kinda make hostels (which I just overheard someone saying, "this is like a homeless place", LOL) feel like luxury hotels. Almost. My standards for being satisfied have dropped dramatically, apparently.
  • Apparently, Chicken & Waffles, together, is a thing. Weirrrrrrd!

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