I’m a storyteller. While it took me a solid eighteen months to start walking (don’t worry, I ended up being a varsity athlete, so saving that extra energy paid off eventually), talking wasn’t a problem at all. According to my mom, my first word was “beer”. I guess that’s what happens when you were born and raised in the world’s capital of beer, Munich, Germany. In second grade, I became spelling bee champ and in May I graduated cum laude from Duke University. So things turned out just fine. I think.
To make a long story short: Words have always made more sense to me than numbers. The exciting part about writing – at least to me – is the fact that I never know where my keyboard and fingers are going to take me in the end. Storytelling includes, but is not limited to, writing. It can take on a variety of different forms. Evolving technology and the rise of Web 2.0 applications have allowed us to experiment with new types of storytelling.
As an international student from Germany, I saw an opportunity in Snapchat to let my friends and family back home know what I’m up to on a daily basis. Seeing how Duke and American (college) culture in general is very different from attending school in Germany, I figured taking a couple of pictures a day and adding short captions would help them understand what being a Duke student entails. It also help me stay connected to the people I left behind in Munich. Over time, however, I started to realize that Snapchat not only allowed me to exchange funny snaps with my brother, it enabled me to tell the most important story of all: my own. Being authentic has always been important to me. I’m passionate about a lot of things and I want people to know that, which is why I want my Snapchat stories to reflect that. Now, who is this Bavarian, parsley-loving Duke senior that is really good at spelling? And how would that be reflected on Snapchat?
Well, there are a lot of opportunities, I can tell you that. Examples of past snaps include excitement at multiple Duke Basketball games in Cameron Indoor Stadium, doing a handstand against the wall of Perkins Library while shaking my hips to Fergie’s “G-L-A-M-O-R-OUS” at 11pm, a selfie with Peter Hamby, head of News at Snapchat who visited Duke for a post-election panel, interviewing former Duke Basketball star Grant Hill in West Union, random screenshots of Bayern Munich’s social media posts (they’re hilarious!), and most importantly: a gazillion Chapel pics at 3am after leaving the library.
That being said, there are a lot of really cool things happening at Duke every single day that are worth sharing (in my humble opinion). I have a lot of school pride and love bragging about my amazing classmates, professors, our basketball team, and this absolutely gorgeous campus.
Moreover, my snaps are frequently featured on the official “Duke Students” Snapchat stories. The person who is in charge of the Duke Students social media accounts, Jackson (who is one of the most talented people on this campus! If you don’t believe me, watch this and this), once told me that he loves my snaps and that I’m the biggest contributor. So if you ever watched the Duke Students’ Snapchat stories, chances are pretty high that you saw one of my snaps. Especially if it featured Duke Basketball. In that case, probably half of the content was mine.
Now you have learned quite a bit about my Snapchat consumer habits, however, the best is yet to come. This is where my roommate Eden comes in. You see, Eden and I have the most perfect college roommate relationship anyone could possibly have. We are each other’s therapists and cheerleaders. Some people hope that their roommates are gone when they come back to their room. Not in this case. I tend to desperately call Eden at 2am if she isn’t back from studying yet. There are two reasons: 1) I miss her. 2) We have a bedtime ritual.
Allow me to elaborate on that. It all started about a year and a half ago. Eden and I had similar study and sleeping schedules, so one night we decided to go to the bathroom and brush our teeth together. The next time we added music to our joint bathroom session. At some point I just started recording us on Snapchat because why not? There we were: two sleep-deprived college girls brushing their teeth and removing makeup while jamming to Disney songs in a scruffy dorm bathroom at 3am. To be fair, some people thought we were a little crazy but most people loved it. One of my brother’s childhood friends who was closely following my Duke journey on social media actually reached out to me, telling me that he loved Eden and our bathroom snaps. Now they’re friends on Facebook. See how Snapchat connects people? Over time, we added themes to our late-night Snapchat escapades. I once brought a basketball to the bathroom and pulled a Troy Bolton to the High School Musical soundtrack. Every now and then we ask our hall mates to record us so we could do more sophisticated dance performances.
Why do we enjoy this so much? Well, being a Duke student can be hard sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware of how incredibly privileged and lucky I am to go here, and I remind myself of that every single day. However, being under constant stress, having a gazillion deadlines every week, meetings, part-time jobs, leadership positions, club involvements, internship applications, volunteering, working on your startup, research, (and having a social life) can be mentally and physically exhausting sometimes. So when we come back from the library after hustling for 18 hours, we want to end the day on a high note. Spending ten minutes in the bathroom with one of my favorite people in the world, dancing and singing to “I just can’t wait to be king” or “Hakuna Matata” to celebrate another day of learning and being productive (or occasionally the lack of the latter) is something I have come to cherish.
Will I remember writing papers about the political realignment of 1964, the emergence and disappearance of female subjectivity in Hitchcock, or the nature vs. nurture debate in sex & gender determination twenty years down the road? Probably not. Will I remember how my roommate and I once put on Panda facial masks and jammed to Desiigner’s song “Panda”? Absolutely. And that’s largely thanks to social media. Those are the types of stories we are going to tell our kids one day when we come back for reunions. “Sweetie, do you see that building to the right of that archway? That’s where aunt Eden and I used to have our bathroom parties. Let me show you a video or two!”