Well, The first semester is over. EVERYONE has been asking what my thoughts are/experiences were and so I thought I'd aggregate everything here to help out with the explanation.
Here is a list with some annotations as well:
- Everyone here is smarter than me.
- I remember well the first few weeks when I just wrote down terms that others were using in class that I had NO IDEA what they were saying. It's that type of situation where someone uses a word and you feel like you ought to know it, so you don't readily admit that you have no idea what it means.
- Not everyone here is a Methodist.
- Not everyone here wants to be a Pastor
- As someone who has been quite confused at times about his "call" (I hate that word), I totally expected to be the odd one out who wasn't willing to just jump on the "I want to be a pastor because they give me a job and a house" train. There are tons of students here that want to be musicians and deacons and other things. If you are a potential student reading this and desire to be a pastor, NO FEAR- Duke has LOTS of students who are pursuing pastoral ministry. And Duke puts out a ton of phenomenal Pastors. But...it's not the end all be all.
- The Undergrads here are ridiculous.
- Duke is one the best schools in the nation. End of story. The students here are smart and dumb people simply don't get in. Your test scores and grades have to be high, there is no question about that. But my God, they are ridiculous. Seems like maybe even more so than other schools. I think it is all set up as a test for Divinity students so that we may remember that they are all children of God too (thanks to Emily Sterling for that reminder).
- Duke Basketball rules all.
- Go to a game in Cameron. You'll understand why.
- Classes are hard.
- I came in as a music major in Undergrad with little attention having been given to graduate work (in any field) and had pretty much figured that I would get a job in a church somewhere preparing worship, leading worship, etc. I didn't read Augustine. I didn't study Anselm. I took Greek for fun in Undergrad and NEVER envisioned that I would take it again. Wrong. I was good in music classes. It all made sense. I could see why things were the way they were. Not so here. I often got Church fathers confused with other ones. I often couldn't remember how to articulate an argument. It's a struggle that I've had to deal with, and I think that I am progressing nicely.
- United Methodist Floridians are lucky.
- There is no doubt about it. At Duke Divinity this year, Florida represents. Not only do we have a lot of students, we have a lot of good students. Students that are passionate about the Church. Students that are influential in conversations. Students that are sponsored by scholarships. Florida has done really well. If this hold true for all the other seminaries, the future of the UMC in Florida is looking up.
- Worship is important.
- Three days a week, every single week, a worship service is held in the middle of the day in Goodson Chapel. They are all well attended. They have different styles of music. They have different styles of preaching. They have different contents. You never know what you are going to get, but you always get what you need. There are no classes during this time. It is as if the school stops to worship as a community. Professors, students, staff, everyone. Pretty cool.
- Above all else, it is a community.
- Middlers (second years) know what Juniors (first years) go through. Same is true of the seniors to Middlers. They help out, they offer advice, they offer study guides, they cheer you on (quite literally). You don't feel as if the PhD students don't like you. They chat with you in the hallway. They stop and grab cake before the OT11 exam. They friend you on Facebook.
I've thoroughly enjoyed the first semester.
Were there days I thought about dropping out and going to get a job in a church? Yes.
Were there days that I was frustrated? Yes.
Was I exhausted? Yes.
Were there times that I was unprepared? Yes.
Were there times when I thought I had nailed a concept and had gotten it all wrong? Yes.
Were there times when I was embarrassed? Yes.
But, it is still worth it.
Fight the good fight.
If our God is for us, who could ever stop us? If our God is with us, what could stand against?