A comfortable home base

Why I joined a Living-Learning Community

Photo of Savannah
Savannah, RELIC Student Coordinator 2010-2011

Hi, my name is Savannah Helvey and I am a rising sophomore at UNC. I am an English major from Burlington, North Carolina and I’m excited you’ve chosen to become (or you are thinking of becoming) a first-year at UNC next year! If you enjoy being with people that are intelligent, enthusiastic, and caring, then the people at UNC are going to be your kind of people.

A year ago at this time I was in your shoes, and maybe even a little more discombobulated than you are. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in, what organizations I wanted to join, or even how to navigate around campus (because I hadn’t moved in yet, of course). It was a time of major transition for me, as well as many of my classmates who were going to UNC with me. Unlike many of them, however, I decided to join a Living-Learning Community called RELIC (Religion as Explorative Learning Integrated into our Community) for my first year of college.

I was interested in the idea of learning about religion, certainly, but another major incentive was a room on the northern part of campus, near all of the classroom buildings. As my school year continued, however, I appreciated more and more the community that I had stumbled upon and was selected to be the RELIC Student Coordinator for the 2010-2011 school year. I never thought I would have this opportunity as a sophomore, but I’m excited and ready to take on the challenge.

I had found a community of very interesting and interested students. RELIC served as a smaller home base within the HUGE community of Chapel Hill students. Along with that, I made friends from all grades. Instead of living on the southern part of campus with the majority of the first-years, I met students in my grade and in the grades above me who served as incredible mentors for emotional, academic, and social development at UNC.

There are so many Living-Learning Communities to choose from, too. For those who want to expand their lingual and cultural horizons, there are the Spanish or Chinese houses. For those looking for a community of students who don’t need or want drugs or alcohol to have fun, and don’t want to feel pressured to do so, there’s the Substance-Free Community.

For people out to change the world, as many UNC students are, there’s UNITAS, Service and Leadership, or Sustainability. For people who want a little help getting into being a first-year, there’s The Carolina Experience. Or, my personal favorite, RELIC, a community for deeply religious and agnostic alike who come together for a diverse community of shared learning! (Not that I’m biased.) All of these communities have a great group of students that form a supportive, tight-knit family-like unit and regularly have a great time together.

If I were writing this letter to myself a year ago as I was trying to decide whether to join a Living-Learning Community or not, I would write in big red letters on a huge posterboard, “APPLY APPLY APPLY!” Because I am writing this letter to you, in the same position as I was, I want to convey the same idea.

Joining a Living-Learning community allows you to meet people who are interested in the same topics you are interested in, gives you a community you can call home, and it makes the first year at UNC a much easier transition. Your first-year experience is enriched, enhanced, and enlightened beyond the traditional residence hall experience.

So, in parting, if you are thinking of applying to a Living-Learning Community, even a bit, APPLY APPLY APPLY!

Whatever you decide to do for housing next year, I hope you love UNC the way I do by the end of your first year at UNC.


UNC Housing Update: After the spring of 2012, RELIC will no longer be offered as a Living-Learning Community, but the experience Savannah describes is common among residents of any LLC, regardless of the LLC’s topical theme.

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