On Campus Weekend #1!

Hi everyone! I hope you are having a great weekend. I put on some press-on nails for the first time in everrrr, and these are so tough to type in, lol! I’m sure I’ll get used to them but my hands are currently looking like baby giraffes learning to walk for the first time.

Anyway! In my program, we are required to do on campus intensives multiple times a year. Basically it entails learning hands-on skills, some testing, case studies and simulations with various lectures in between. I was nervous as could be before my first one with no real idea what to expect. However, once we had our first session the nerves were placated a bit. I loved meeting my peers in person. We learned a ton, and it made things feel quite real! Prior, I didn’t know anyone personally, but after the first on-campus I exchanged numbers with several people. They have been such a great source of encouragement, and often it’s just nice to know I’m not alone in feeling out of my depths sometimes. I don’t know how I would have survived this semester without them!

Our sessions started at around 8 am on September 13th and finished around 4 pm each day. I was able to walk back to where I was staying to eat my leftovers for lunch and work on some pharmacology lectures in between sessions. Once the end of the afternoon session rolled around I was in need of some time to unwind. I decided to walk the campus while listening to a podcast. This walk is one of my favorite memories from the last few months, and I’m happy to take you on this walk with me if you are interested!


It was a bit overcast, but I love overcast days. It felt like it may rain at any moment, but the temperature was perfectly warm and dewy.


While walking I spotted this spider that I thought could not possibly be real! Sure enough… it was. The web was massive. There was no one else around me, but I was eager to share the shock of the spider with someone else. I kept thinking, “Am I seeing this thing right?!”. I also wish the camera had captured the web better, but you can get an idea of the proportion based on the size of the eight-legged terror.


I was a bit more on guard for crawly creatures the rest of the walk, but we boldly traversed on.


I stumbled upon this story circle that was absolutely charming.


When you entered in there was a book exchange box and a cute little sitting circle. I imagine kids just adore this!


More walking on…


When I saw the school buildings I was in awe.


And the chapel… wow…


I knew the campus was beautiful beforehand… but seeing it in person nearly took my breath away. I was truly amazed.

On September 14th after our morning session I went to the food court with some of my classmates.


It was a food court to contend with any top tier food court! I always look forward to trying something new whenever I return.

This time I enjoyed an ahi tuna poke bowl. So refreshing and filling.


I repeated another walk that afternoon, but a more abbreviated version. I chatted on the phone with my family and friends while taking in the serene landscape.


Nothing to calm the nerves like some time outdoors!


That evening I enjoyed an Rx bar and some tea to unwind from the high energy of the last couple days.


Around 3 am I woke up to head to the airport. I settled down to have breakfast at around 5:30 am with Starbucks, a parfait and some of a quest bar.


A valiant effort on the spelling, I’ll say.


And that’s a wrap for my first on campus intensive. I left feeling elated and like I had a new drive to survive the daunting semester. I have doubted myself countless times over this semester- almost daily, but the on-campus intensives always help give me a boost of confidence. I am trusting the process and the fact that God has me here for a reason. He doesn’t call the equipped, but equips the called, right? One of my dearest friends and roommates from college reminds me of this often <3 Hope you all are so well! Have a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!!

Questions for you:

  • Any Christmas traditions?
  • This is a bit deeper: Any times you have doubted yourself, but thrived nonetheless? I’d love to hear!

xo <3 


61 thoughts on “On Campus Weekend #1!

  1. What an absolutely gorgeous walk Mack. Such gorgeous pics and I loved the reading box and circle, kinda reminded me of something out of Lord of the Rings. Thanks for taking me along. 😊

    1. Hi Miriam! Oh I hadn’t thought of that with Lord of the Rings- but you are so right! Glad you enjoyed 🙂 I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season ❤️

  2. That campus is stunning! I doubted myself big time when I was training to get my CDL. I was told by many that few pass the test first time since you have to parallel park a bus. Plus that “profession” is dominated by men, but I knocked that test out of the park! And now I get to drive a medical bus around my community and help those with barriers to transportation receive access to healthcare. So worth it!

    1. Such a cool story- Thanks for sharing this with me, Bex!! Hearing stories like this is really encouraging! And your work is so important!! I’m really happy to hear it was all worth it too 🙂

  3. The campus is so serene, so lovely, what better medicine could there be than to stroll (in my case) through God’s world? A taste of heaven! About how large an area does this encompass? I have never doubted myself- maybe I am oblivious, or maybe I never stretched myself enough?? I have felt worried or nervous, like before public speaking, or first time in court (not as a criminal!), but most of the time I try to be happy and positive. There are 350 million people in America, one little goof on my part isn’t going to tip the whole continent, ha! I realize you deal with life or death kinds of things though, and what I do know for sure is you are fantastic! Merry Christmas!

    1. Hi, Jena! I am so glad you enjoyed this stroll 🙂 I looked up Duke’s Campus, and it spans 8,691 acres. Seems even more than I’d expect! Aw that’s great though- I think a good perspective to have to spare a lot of unnecessary angst! Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas- we missed you, but send all our love. Have a blessed new year!

  4. I loved going along on the walk. So beautiful! ” He doesn’t call the equipped, but equips the called.” So true.
    Speaking in front of a group use to be my biggest fear and for most of my life I was able to make excuses and wriggle my way out of it. At my last job, however, I had a boss who seemed to love putting me in situations that took me out of my comfort zone, including having to speak in front of large groups. I was not happy and so terrified at first but eventually became comfortable doing it and it became a big part of my job.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours Mackenzie.

    1. Hi, Ruth! So glad you enjoyed this walk 🙂 Thanks for taking it with me! Thank you for sharing this with me.. I love hearing that you eventually became comfortable. These are the types of stories that really encourage me because it shows that overcoming that fear can be done. I hope you had a beautiful Christmas <3

      1. I am so glad you found it encouraging. We had a wonderful Christmas. I hope you did too. I’ll be posting about it soon. I know you are crazy busy but if you get a chance stop by my blog I there are a couple of posts I think you might enjoy. Especially the one about buying our farm and the one about our prayer garden. Let me know if you would like me to send you the links.
        I hope you are taking a break over the holidays and have a chance to recharge. Be well my friend.

      2. Aww I absolutely will check them out 🙂 Thank you for letting me know!! My Reader and process is all out of wack since I’ve missed so much! This will be wonderful reading material for the plane trip home ! ✈️ Have a blessed New Year, Ruth ☺️

      3. I understand. When life gets busy I have a hard time keeping up on reading too. I hope you have a safe trip home and a blessed New Year. 🙂

  5. Wow, what a beautiful journey you took us on Mackenzie … the architecture, but mostly the nature aspect … I would join you in a heartbeat (even if I too would have the fate of meeting up with a large spider that would creep me out, as I am terrified of them). The whole area is peaceful … the pond and statuary were my favorites, but the unusual wooden walk throughs, the quaint “little library” and beautiful red bridge over the water – everything would beckon someone to spend time outdoors taking it all in. I have to say that when I began blogging that I didn’t tell anyone about it for a very long time – only my neighbor who suggested I start a blog knew about it … I wanted to make sure I felt comfortable with myself enough to share it with the rest of the world, so I kept on writing, but didn’t tell people at first. A blog is a personal extension of yourself … you must give a lot of consideration to whom you want to be privy to your thoughts … I am past that now though.

    1. Hi, Linda!! Thank you for joining me on the tour–and we could stay away from the spider, hehe. I love what you said about blogging…. thank you for sharing that with me! I had the same experience with blogging too- my friend used to joke I would *whisper* blog so we used to call it the “Whisper blog” since I was so bashful about it. too funny. Now I’ll chat pretty openly about it too. Thanks for stopping in!! <3

      1. Yes, we had to gain confidence – after all we share our innermost thoughts and experiences with the world if you think about it – I am glad I started walking because it led to blogging and then a renewed interest in photography. I was reluctant to share my photos when I started taking more photos … I’m no pro and I like sharing funny shots like the Christmas cookies and squirrels – they are not professional by a long shot, but fun to take and make for a funny nature blog … I did not intend it to be a nature blog and it has kind of morphed into that. Enjoy your weekend and safe travels back home to you Mackenzie.

      2. Absolutely! Blogging helped me foster a love for photography too! I was just going to say- I’m not quite on your level with photos, but it’s funny you don’t think you’re a pro because they look darn professional to me!! Thanks for the travel wishes 😊

      3. Yes, the whole package has been good for me … every two years I added more … walking, writing, then pictures. Thank you for the compliment but I always think they are lucky or fun shots … I went back there today to where all the birds were and took some seeds with me – they were in their glory, but then so was I. You’re welcome – I heard there was some storms stirring up and hope you are not having turbulence on the return trip.

      4. You are so welcome! And we actually did hit quite a bit of turbulence. I get nervous super easy in turbulence, but DJ is calm as a cucumber- it makes me feel better that he doesn’t get too rattled. But his arms may have taken a bit of a beating consider I grabbed them with every little bump haha. Have a happy new year, Linda 🙂

      5. Ha ha – actually I heard Texas was going to have some bad weather, but didn’t want to tell you beforehand. Our nice and warm weather we had for 10 days has taken a nosedive and it is a real feel of 19 degrees and guess whose furnace went kaput today? We’ve had overnight temps in the 40s … sigh. Have a happy new year – best in 2020 Mackenzie.

      6. Oh man, I hope you can get that furnace fixed ASAP! Stay safe and warm! Have a very happy new year, Linda!

  6. What a beautiful stroll you took us on! The Story Book atea was enchanting! Imagine little ones there reading and pretending that one of the characters of their story book came for a visit!
    Thank you for the stroll!

    When I doubt myself… I pray! It helps every time!

    Side note… I tried Press On Nails just recently for the first time! I am amazed of how well they stay on! Going to put on a New Set for New Years!

    Have a merry Merry Christmas! ❤️

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Nancy!! You are so right- prayer is always the first place to go. I think I needed this reminder because often I can go to prayer as a second or third priority rather than first, so thank you for sharing this <3

      Aren't they great?! Mine are still hanging on (except one I had to re-glue) since I published this post.

      I hope you had a wonderful Christmas 🙂

  7. Holy cow, campus is gorgeous!! It almost doesn’t seem like it’s a college campus and professional gardens. That food court looks so nice as well.

    Actually, I have doubted myself before and thrived. I ran the New Jersey Marathon injured (didn’t know I was injured or I most likely wouldn’t have ran). Around the halfway point, I started to get pain and walked every little bit. To run/walk the second half of a marathon and be in pain is not fun at all. At one point I cried since I just wanted to be done with the race. I finished and even though the time wasn’t what I trained for, I’m still glad I finished!

    On a lighter note… Our Christmas traditions actually start on the 23rd! Recently, my family has been doing an outing since we’re rarely all together. Tonight we’re heading to fondue which should be fun since I’ve never been to Melting Pot before. Then on Christmas Eve morning, we all go see a movie before getting ready for church. Before leaving for mass, we open a new pair of pjs. At my aunt’s house that night, Santa visits and we all get a funny joke gift based on something that’s happened the past year. Now on Christmas morning, we open presents and then have a breakfast casserole and monkey bread. That’s a lot of traditions hahaha.

    Merry Christmas Mackenzie!!

    1. Hi Maureen! Thanks for reading. I know.. it’s kinda sad I don’t actually attend all my classes on campus, but I’m glad to enjoy it for the OCIs!

      Oh my goodness, that’s right!! Thank you for sharing with me. Hearing these stories is really encouraging because it shows that even when things look grim they can be overcome <3

      Those traditions sound amazing! The Melting Pot is sooo stinking yummy- I hope you enjoyed! I love the pjs tradition too- so fun. Your family sounds like they know how to do the holidays right! Also, monkey bread is the BEST!! I had it for the first time in years over thanksgiving, and it's so good. It's essentially the best part of a cinnamon roll. Can't wait to read about all these festivities! Have a great weekend 🙂

  8. Girlfriend, these photos are stellar!! I absolutely love your eye for photography. All of the campus looks like a dream, and the buildings and chapel are absolutely exquisite. It looks like something out of a movie!

    That spider – yikes! It looks so. huge. I’d snap a photo then runnnn. Ha!

    While I know what I say doesn’t take away that inner dialogue of doubt – I appreciate that this program is very difficult – but you would not have been accepted if you were not qualified. They see in you what I do – determination, drive, and the ability to succeed. You are so disciplined in your studies, and your willingness to learn so many new things will take you far. As with all things in life, we can only take them one moment at a time. I’m guilty of getting far ahead of myself and worrying about the future and what if’s, but we simply have this moment. You are doing brave and wonderful things. While not the same rigor of a program, I certainly doubted myself *many* times throughout my graduate program and my dietetic internship. I would feel overwhelmed with what I was expected to know, and wrongfully, I compared myself to my peers and their progress. I wish I had given myself more grace, though, because so much of what I know now is from experience in the job. Yes, school was of the utmost importance, but textbooks and exams only get you so far. Then you just have to get out there and start opening yourself up to learning all that you can.

    Our tradition the last few years is to get lunch or dinner with Matt’s mom and step-dad on Christmas Eve then we spend Christmas Day at home with our fur-babies. This year we are joining his family on Christmas Day, and I’m looking forward to it. Merry Christmas to you and yours! xo

    1. Aww I’m so glad you loved the pics- that makes me so happy! The place made my job easy- it was so photogenic, but thank you for saying I have an eye for it!! (: I really thought the spider was fake for a good couple seconds and by the point I realized it was real I think I was just paralyzed by a mix of fear/fascination, lol!

      Ok, you have no idea how much your comment means to me. I screen-shotted it so I can come back to it for some perspective and encouragement when I start wondering to those places of doubt. I’ve talked to many people about these insecurities, but I don’t think anyone has pointed out the value of just focusing on the here and now…. And this will help tremendously. I think most of my anxiety comes from thinking forward and thinking, “the current me could not handle that future situation”…. But I’m not supposed to be able to handle it at this current time and time will bring that training. Your experience through your graduate program mirrors my own, and it’s extremely encouraging to hear you had these similar feelings and yet are an incredible competent, confident dietician today. This is exactly why I posed this question because hearing this is a reminder that it’s possible to get through and overcome what often feels insurmountable. I think the turning point will be clinicals, which, as you said, is where the textbooks lead to actual tangible learning. Ah, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to share this with me. Thankful for you!!! I often feel like you are an older sister to me with so much wisdom.

      Aww I love these traditions!!! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I can’t wait to read about it. You guys always know how to make the most of every holiday!! <3 <3

      1. The campus looks so amazing! That spider? Not so much. Hahaha I would’ve snapped a photo & runnnn away. Way too big! It should be outlawed. 😆

        I’m so glad my words could be of help!! Trust me – doubt has definitely been a big part of my vocabulary, but as I broke through it & gained experiences, I began to see & acknowledge my competence. You absolutely will get there, & you’ll be helping so many people!! Time is essential: with time comes the greater ability to handle these situations that bring you fear. If you knew it now, then you wouldn’t need the program. 🥰 Slow & steady 🐢

        Thank you so much!! We love to fit in as much fun as we can. It was incredible, & I hope you had a most amazing Christmas too! ❤️

      2. Haha, right?! I was definitely on guard after seeing that!

        Ah , you are the best. Thank you thank you tons. Slow and steady is right. Every time I start feeling nervous about starting clinicals or beginning class for this next semester I just think one day at a time after your advice. It helps so much and allows me to be present in the moment and truly enjoy “today”.

        I loved reading over your Christmas festivities!!! It always amazes me how much you pack in, but it’s all quality AND quantity!! <3

      3. You are so welcome!! I’m glad my words can bring you some comfort. ❤️

        Thank you so much!! We sure love to do as many things as we can, but I appreciate you mentioning quality. I value it very much. 🥰

    1. No worries, It’s Duke’s!! I was just blown away!! I hope your Christmas was wonderful. Can’t wait to catch up when we get back 🙂

      1. I had no idea either! I was just stunned at the buildings and the gardens… it’s like a kept secret or something!

  9. Wow oh wow, what a gorgeous campus. It reminds me of a little fairy tale village. I really love that story telling area with the tree stumps so much! & that definitely sounds like a top-notch food court! Thank you for taking us on your walks, Mackenzie! ♡

    1. I did not expect all the cute little nooks and crannies everywhere! glad you enjoyed seeing around & thanks for joining me 😚🌲 📚

  10. I lol’d about you saying you trying to type with press on nails is like a baby giraffe trying to walk! You’re stinking’ hilarious, Mackenzie! What a gorgeous campus, and oh my… that spider gave me the chills. K would totally be on guard the rest of the walk, too!

    So happy you’re feeling the drive to survive a tough semester. You’ve got this!!

    1. Hehe I’m so glad you enjoyed that- I wasn’t even sure I was communicating what I meant, but glad you understood 😆

      Thank you for the encouragement !! Have a very happy new year, Allie! 💙

  11. You took so many beautiful pictures while walking around campus. The school buildings are so amazing!! They are so pretty. I’m definitely not a fan of spiders, but I do like taking pictures of them. Although I get really freaked out when I do. I’m always scared they will jump out at me or something, HAHA. It’s great that you were able to exchange numbers with some of your peers. Having that extra source of encouragement is great. 🙂

    1. Hi, Ashley! Hahah I felt the SAME way about the spider! Thank you for stopping in. I hope you have a very happy and blessed New Year <3

  12. Oh wow, the campus is stunning! Your view looks so refreshing to relieve you of some of the stress. But that spider, no thank you! That terrifies me, haha. It’s crazy how large some insects and other creatures can really get. That’s an awesome food court and so cool to have a variety of yummy dishes to choose from!

    My family tradition is to have hot chocolate and punch at my parents’ house while we watch a terrible and corny Christmas movie. It was a little different this year, but we all managed to gather together! I hope your Christmas was wonderful, Mackenzie!

    To make it short, I think my decision to attend college across the state put a large amount of pressure on me! I was afraid of being able to make it work, and it was the many of firsts of being on my own and having my family 5 hours away! I think I’m doubting myself a lot now since graduating and moving away officially, but I’m learning to just be confident in myself and what I’m doing. Always, always trust in God’s process! There’s so much in store and looking forward to what you’re doing whenever your hard work now pays off!

    1. Walking around the campus definitely does help with the stress a ton! I agree about the spider- I could not believe it was real! Thank goodness those ones were pretty harmless.

      Awwww I love that tradition! It sounds so cozy and nothing beats family time.

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me, Stephanie!! You are so right- it’s all about trusting God through the process. Thank you for the words of encouragement. Have a very Happy New Year 🙂

      1. Pretty harmless but definitely a huge scare! You’re absolutely welcome, Mackenzie! I hope your New Year is starting off to a wonderful and blessed start! ♡

  13. What a lovely walk. I’d be terrified if I almost walked into that web with that spider. Gosh no. Are the birds real by the way?? I can’t tell lol
    I’m so glad the first day on campus went well and that you exchanged numbers with your classmates. I bet you all will need each other as time goes on to keep you all motivated and feeling confident and not alone. ❤

    1. haha the birds are not real, but they do look very realistic!

      Thank youuuu! <3 I talk with them all every week- like you said, it's just SO good to know I'm not alone in this rollercoaster of emotions. I just love reading theses comments from you. Thank you so much for taking the time <3

      1. Ahhh I was fooled lol.
        That’s great! I’m glad you’re keeping in touch with them! When is the next on campus intensive? Or how often do you have to do them?

      2. It’s in early February! We had 2 last semester, but now are transitioning over to 1/semester I believe!

    1. I couldn’t believe it! I feel like no one really talks about how beautiful it is when the school is brought up, as though it’s a kept secret- but I was like- what in the world?! this is stunning!! Maybe since I’m online I just don’t talk to enough people who have actually been to the campus, haha.

  14. Hi Mackenzie, aww press on nails are fun but I understand getting used to them ! It is nice you get to go on campus and meet people , who have the same nervousness as you. But I am glad it got better after the first class. It is so nice you got to go home for leftovers during your sessions! Oh my gosh, how big is that spider? The campus grounds are beautiful , I love all the flowers . I love the book exchange. The chapel is amazing also. We all doubt ourselves at times but with God’s help we can achieve anything ! Have a nice weekend, Terri xo.

    1. Hi Terri!! I’m actually on my way home from an on campus right now again 🙂 Isn’t that spider nuts?! I really didn’t think it was real at first!

      I love that perspective, you are so right! Thank you for stopping in. I hope you are so well!! ❤️

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