All posts by Brittany Darst

Carolina Asia Center

Bring Your Own Awesome (B.Y.O.A.)

UNC’s unique sustainability culture

Pancake nights are very popular at UNC. Just remember to bring your own plate!
Pancake nights are very popular at UNC. Just remember to bring your own plate!

Sometimes I wonder whether UNC students bleed Carolina blue or grassy green.

As an incoming first-year, I didn’t fully understand Chapel Hill’s commitment to sustainability.  That first semester, one of my friends gasped in horror when I threw a plastic soda bottle in a garbage can. I was puzzled at the time – but three years later, I now carry my plastic soda bottles around for hours until I find the next recycling bin. Once you’ve been here long enough, those things start to happen!
One hallmark of Carolina sustainability culture is B.Y.O.B. residence hall events. Elsewhere, B.Y.O.B. has a much different meaning than you’d expect to find in a Carolina residence hall. Especially after reading the strict Community Living Standards’ stance on alcohol, I raised my eyebrows the first time I saw a “B.Y.O.B.” event advertised. But in Carolina residence halls, that acronym is far from an encouragement to drink. Instead, it’s a creative way to reduce paper and plastic waste at residence hall events by “Bringing Your Own Bowl!”

Housework Horrors

Confessions of a cleanliness-challenged college student

Cleaning supplies
These are indispensable tools for any college student.

Growing up, I learned to live with chores. In a home with four kids, that’s just how it was. Tidiness never came easily, but my mother delegated tasks with a cheerful efficiency that scared away even the dirtiest of socks.

Going to college, I imagined that my housework would have the same satisfactory outcome. Honestly, how hard could it be? Skipping about like Giselle in Enchanted, I would fluff pillows and toss cans in the recycling bin and everything would turn out fine.

But instead of a fairytale, my freshman year produced many housework horrors – including these three classic catastrophes.

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Finally Finding Your Fit

Enjoy the college journey, but don’t forget your destination

Knitting needles
Bringing your favorite hobbies to school is a great way to de-stress.

Remember your first day of class at Carolina? I do.

I barely found my way from Hinton James to Greenlaw. Dozens of student groups accosted me as I hurried through the Pit. The line for the top of Lenoir stretched for miles.

And I was blissfully happy.

To my eager first-year eyes, the bustle and chaos seemed exhilarating. I couldn’t wait to make great friends, earn high grades and sign up for every group I could. Carolina was the biggest opportunity of my life, and I was determined to make the most of it.

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There and Back Again

Beating the first-year fall break blues

Fall at UNC Chapel Hill
Sometimes, your life at Carolina can feel a world away from your life back home.

Congratulations! You made it through your first fall break.

If you spent last week at home, you may have discovered that returning home can be one of the hardest parts of college. Especially at first, going back can be a disorienting experience that leaves you either yearning for campus life or running after your parents’ car as they drive away. Whatever you experienced last week, take heart! There are ways to beat the fall break blues.

Two different worlds

Even if your hometown is an hour down the road, life at Carolina is probably a world away from the life you revisited over break. Temporarily losing your new-found friends and freedoms might have made you wonder how you ever lived at home; visiting your old favorite places and people might have made you wonder how you’ll ever be able to live at Carolina. I’ve certainly wondered all those things in the past two years – but now, as a junior, I’ve found ways to achieve a balance between home and school.

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Tonight we’re going to…party?

Fun alternatives for weekends in Chapel Hill

Photo of students swing dancing
Students practice swing dancing at the Carolina Swing Club. Twice a month, dances are held on Saturday nights in Durham and Carrboro.

“Hey, I’m hosting a party this weekend. Want to come?”

If you’re like me, those words bring a smile to your face. “Yes!” you think. “I actually have friends!”

But if you, like me, avoid partying, those words also worry you. Will alcohol be there? Will you be pressured to drink? Most importantly, can you still have fun if you say “no, thanks”?

At Carolina, the answer to the last question is a resounding yes! No matter what lifestyle you choose, our campus and community offer a wide variety of things to do, see and experience.

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Home-Grown Room

Crafting a cozy and sustainable living space

Carolina’s residence halls can feel as homey on the inside as they look on the outside.

Each August, bright-eyed college first-years flock to department stores, lured by neat shelves of room furnishings. Coordinating bedspreads, furniture and dishes seem to symbolize a fresh start and new beginnings.

But as I head into my junior year, I’m yearning for a more home-grown room than what department stores can give. A cozy sofa instead of a futon. Walls plastered with memories. Unique belongings truly mine. A home, not just a 10×13 space.

In pursuit of this dream, I hopped from antique shop to thrift store to closet this summer. A little time, a little effort and a lot of creativity have given me a motley assemblage of treasures that will transform my room into a home. Best of all, restoring used items and buying what’s built to last is truly a sustainable lifestyle.

Want to craft a home-grown room of your own? Start with three key areas: wall hangings, dishes and furniture.

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Inside the Sustainability Living-Learning Community

Living green at Carolina

Sustainability residents at Hope Gardens.

The Sustainability Living-Learning Community in Morrison is one of Carolina’s best-known Living-Learning Communities. To glimpse inside, we interviewed two Sustainability residents: first-year English & history major Andrew Soboeiro from Pinehurst and first-year geography & global studies major Ellen Currin from Raleigh. Here’s what they have to say about sustainability living at UNC!



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Will you be my exit buddy?

Living with a high school friend your first year at Carolina

We’ve all heard the story before: High school senior applies to college. High school senior’s best friend applies to same college. Both get in, and they decide to room together. By December, their friendship and sanity are ruined.

But that story didn’t come true for me.

Every year, half of Carolina students have “random” roommates. Many students have a positive experience. I can attest to this—as a sophomore, I’ve enjoyed getting to know the sweet girl I was randomly placed with this year. However, the myth that high school friends can’t be successful roommates is just that: a myth. As a first-year, I lived in Hinton James with Elissa, a girl I have known since elementary school. It turned out to be an excellent decision.

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Pianos 101

UNC residence halls’ piano report card

"All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." - Bach

Musically inclined Carolina students enjoy a plethora of opportunities – bands, ensembles, orchestras, and fantastic minor & major programs. Some days, though, all you want is to roll downstairs in your pajamas and play “Chopsticks” for twenty minutes straight. Whether you’re a prodigy or beginner, check out the musical resources in your residential community – and the helpful list below.








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Top 10 Tips to Rise and Shine

Making the best of your mornings

This guy knows all about waking up early.

Sometimes, like Frodo, all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

Unfortunately, that time is often 8 a.m.

For many college students, waking up in the morning is unpleasant. For me, it’s almost painful. However, after experiencing my first 8 a.m. classes this semester, I have found ways to ease the pain.  Whether you wake up at noon or the crack of dawn, check out these ten tips for making the best of your mornings.

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