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Places to go when your parents come to visit

So your parents are coming to visit this weekend and you have no idea what you’re going to do with them. Don’t worry, while I’m technically a 21-year-old college student, at heart, I’m more like a 45-year-old father of three, so I’ll know exactly what your parents will enjoy when they come to visit.UNC offers a variety of parent-friendly activities that will fill your weekend itinerary and distract from the looming conversation about your GPA. Check out some of these great options, and get to planning!

Wilson Library

Wilson Library is one of my favorite places on campus, not only because it’s a beautiful, iconic building, but also because I’m a huge history nerd and they have great exhibits there. Some of my favorites were the “Sounds of ’68” exhibit, the exhibit on the Daily Tar Heel and the student-curated exhibit on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. All of the exhibits are very well-done and interesting, and it’s a great way to learn more about North Carolina history.

Wilson Library
Wilson Library; Photo Courtesy UNC Medical School

The Carolina Basketball Museum

I firmly believe the Carolina Basketball Museum is one of the coolest things on campus. It’s located on the first floor of the Ernie Williamson Athletics Center next to the Dean Dome and the Koury Natatorium and includes every ball from a UNC national championship (except for the one from 1924), championship rings, uniforms of some of UNC’s most famous stars, the original floor of Carmichael Arena (the one Michael Jordan played on) and more. For anyone who loves sports and/or Carolina Basketball as much as I do, it’s amazing and a must-see when you come to Chapel Hill.

Carolina Basketball Museum

Morehead Planetarium

I love space. I actually wanted to be an astronaut when I was younger, but then I realized that required both math and physical activity, neither of which I’m very fond of. That being said, I still love learning about space, and therefore I love Morehead Planetarium. Morehead Planetarium is a huge building on Franklin Street on the east side of campus that has planetarium shows where visitors can learn about the final frontier. Fun fact: 11 of the 12 astronauts who walked on the moon explored space in one of Morehead’s shows, so if you go to one, you’re basically an astronaut. Jokes aside, I definitely recommend checking this place out.

Morehead Planetarium and the Sundial; Courtesy Orange County Visitor’s Bureau

Ackland Art Museum

Ackland is located on South Columbia Street near Franklin and boasts a personal collection of nearly 18,000 works of art. Works being featured range from European masterworks to the pieces from the premier Asian Art collection in North Carolina to contemporary pieces. There’s tons of beautiful art in these well-curated exhibits, and if you take your parents here, they’ll think you’re becoming cultured. It’s a win-win.

Ackland Art Museum; Courtesy Ackland Art Museum

Coker Arboretum

If you prefer to do something in the great outdoors, Coker Arboretum is located right next to Morehead Planetarium. It’s part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and the large clearing in the middle is, by far, the best place to have a picnic on campus. I highly recommend taking your parents for a quick walk through the arboretum to see some beautiful plants and stall the inevitable question: “Do you think you’ll make the Dean’s List this semester?”

Coker Arboretum; Photo Courtesy UNC Garden Club

How To Survive Your First Day

You asked, we answered! This blog goes out, specifically, to Komal. You wanted tips on how to make it through your first day at Carolina, and we’ve got answers for you. Follow these and you’ll have an FDOC better than the one in Ned’s Declassified.

  1. Know What FDOC Means

How do you spot a first-year? They don’t know the Carolina lingo. Don’t be that kid. Every year, the DTH sends out a first-year guide to all things UNC. In it? All the Carolina abbreviations. I’ll highlight some of the basics for you. First of all, the DTH is the Daily Tar Heel. It’s our on-campus newspaper that’s totally student-run (make sure to sign up for it if you believe in the future of journalism)! They publish new stories every day, from sports coverage to social activism. Make sure to check your mail over the summer for your special copy and read up on all the acronyms. Once you get to Carolina, you’ll be hearing a lot of FDOC. FDOC stands for the First Day of Class. Towards the end of the semester, you’ll hear this replaced with LDOC (Last Day of Class). All of your friends will ask you how your FDOC went, so don’t be caught off guard! It’s also a tradition to drink from the Old Well on FDOC. They say you get a 4.0 for the semester if you do. I’m not one to brag, but from experience, I know it does have a small success rate. Some people like to line up at the well right at midnight and sing the alma mater with other Tar Heels. You definitely don’t need to be that dedicated to the cause to get a 4.0, but definitely stop by at some point during the day. It’ll be hot and the line will be long, but you never know who you’ll meet while you’re waiting.

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2. Find Your Classes the Day Before

Nothing is worse than being late for your class because you went into the wrong building. Make sure to take time the day before FDOC to find all your classrooms. Go with one of your suitemates and do a run through of what your days will look like. Make sure to do a Mon/Wed/Fri mockup and then a Tues/Thurs. Also, big PSA, there’s a difference between Hanes Hall and Hanes Art Center. If you have one of these on your schedule, make sure to check you’re at the right one. They’re not across campus or anything, but it’ll still take you about five minutes to walk between each. Trust me, if you have an 8 am, you do NOT want to waste an extra five minutes. UNC is a big campus. I spent my first few weeks with a map of campus as my phone background. Don’t be ashamed if you have to do this. It’s way better than being lost.

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3. Sit in the Front

I’ve only had one 300 person lecture class during my time at UNC and I can honestly say I’m BLESSED. Those classes aren’t fun. Mine was ECON 101 (again, not fun). A lot of 101 courses, especially science ones, will be big lecture ones. Though recitations make them feel a little smaller, the class itself can be easy to get lost in. My best advice is to sit in the front. In my econ class, I sat in the very front row. That might be a little extra, but definitely try to find a seat up front. I’m not saying it’s true, but in my opinion, a lot of the students who get those higher grades will sit in the front. Maybe correlation, not causation? Also, a lot of these lectures require group work to answer poll questions, so you want to be surrounded by smart kids. There’s a good chance if you sit in the back you’ll be stuck next to a kid who only shows up to class the first day, exam days, and last day. And when you have 45 seconds left to answer a poll (yes, @Balaban), you’ll regret not sitting next to someone else.

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4. Make Time for Lunch

Nothing is worse than sitting in a quiet classroom and then your stomach starts growling. Trust me, this happened to me all the time if I skipped meals, and though it’s funny the first few times, I could tell the people sitting next to me would get annoyed after a while. Get into the routine of making time for lunch every day, starting with FDOC. This is an easy way to squeeze in social time during your busy day. I was scared of eating alone at first, so I always went with a friend. After a while you realize eating alone is totally normal, and sometimes needed on bad days, but those first few weeks it’s nice to use the time to get to know the people you’ll be seeing for the next four years! Also, make note that your Monday schedule isn’t that same as your Thursday one, so switch up your lunch routine! You don’t have to eat in the dining hall every day. If you’re extra busy during midterm season, use a plus swipe and take your food to go to a library.

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5. Prepare a Fun Fact

Ugh, professors who do this are the worst. My first day at Carolina I was SO unprepared for this question. UNC is great because there are so many cool people who attend. But that also means those cool people have REALLY cool fun facts. I’ve had all but one professor at Carolina ask me for a fun fact, so chances are your professors will too. Don’t be that lame kid that says you played baseball in high school. Newsflash: this sounds like you peaked in high school. Think back to the unique moments you’ve had in your life, and share one! But please don’t go into a full story either, it’s a fun fact, not a fun novel.

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6. Create Group Chats

Create group chats with the people you sit next to in class. This is an easy way to get to know your classmates, and it’ll come in handy when you need help with homework. Carolina students are really friendly, I promise you no one will think it’s weird if you take initiative. My MEJO 101 class I sat next to my roommate. On our first day, she made a group chat with the two boys who sat behind us. We didn’t know it then, but by the end of the semester, we all became besties! Also, divide and conquer is an actual thing. It’s easier to find the answers to a study guide between four people than by yourself. Do yourself a favor and create that group message.

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Well, there you have it, how to survive FDOC, Carolina edition. Stay tuned later in the semester for how to survive LDOC. That one is a lot more fun :).

The Ultimate Tar Heel Dictionary

Being a student at UNC comes with a lot of responsibility, history and traditions. We’re a tight community, all linked by this same passion for our university. With that, we have some special ways of expressing ourselves. Here’s a beginner’s guide to some essential Tar Heel lingo (that you may already know) to make yourself sound like a seasoned upperclassman when you step on campus!

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23 – The number that Michael Jordan, noted UNC alum and arguably the best basketball player of all time, sported while winning the 1982 National Championship. Also the number that many of us sport from the sidelines of almost any Carolina activity.

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89 – The year that the first (and totally unbiasedly greatest) public university in America was founded, 1789. Another number often seen on jerseys to commemorate a historic occasion.

Born and Bred – A phrase from UNC’s alma mater (Hark the Sound!!!), sung at the end of each sporting event. Summarizes our community in that we were all destined to be Tar Heels from day one (even if you weren’t raised this way, you’ll feel like you were!!).

Ceiling is the Roof – Honestly one of the most insightful and inspirational quotes from our very own, Michael Jordan, while announcing his partnership with UNC’s football team. It’s important to note that this was during the 2017 dook game (which we won) – the last home game before winning the natty… don’t question the logic.

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DTH – UNC’s student run newspaper organization, the Daily Tar Heel. Captures iconic campus events such as previously mentioned 2017 natty – you may have to get aggressive to get a copy of the Redemption issue though, they’re highly sought after.

Dook – Let’s all learn how to spell our opposites’ name correctly! Producing villains such as Grayson Allen, the only way to spell this university is our way. After all, we’re the better blue and that’s a fact!

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We know, being a Dookie is a sad life…

FDOC – The first day of class, in which Heels line up at the Old Well and swear that this semester the sip will lead them to a 4.0… Fact or fiction, it’s a Tar Heel tradition we will always participate in with high hopes for an academically stellar semester.

FTK – A motto you’ll probably hear a lot of on campus, as it comes from Carolina For The Kids, North Carolina’s largest student-run non-profit organization. Especially around Dance Marathon (their 24-hour no sitting, no sleeping event) recruitment season, you won’t be able to walk through campus without hearing “FTK, for the kids!”.

GDTBATH – You’ll very quickly realize that every day is a “good day to be a Tar Heel”, so good that we needed an acronym – because that’s a long phrase to be saying that often. Win or lose, this acronym drives our rivals crazy (haters gonna hate), which makes us love it even more!

GTHD – Speaking of the rivals, the ones we most love to hate are those gothic devils eight miles down the road… the dreaded dookies. The last unofficial line in our alma mater, and my personal favorite is the one that this acronym alludes to: go to heck dook!!

LDOC – The beautiful cousin to FDOC, the last day of classes. A happy day of celebrating the long semester behind us and forget about the stress of upcoming finals. LDOC is especially fun in the Spring when students can lay out on the quad under a nice spring day and get tons of free swag and food in the pit, courtesy of CUAB!

Midterm Season – While some schools have 1 week designated for midterms, this isn’t really a thing for Carolina. In fact, between syllabus week and finals, its basically always midterms season – a time where you can most definitely find students crying in every library possible, because some how it always works out perfectly that all your classes have midterms the same week ://///

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This is my constant mood during midterm season…

Natty Champs – Example: April 3rd, 2017, when UNC won the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, aka the best day of my life. However, Tar Heels are natty champs in several different sports, because we’re not a basketball school 😊

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Rams Dining Hall – Now Chase Dining Hall, the older Tar Heels will always refer to the South Campus cafeteria as we know it: Rams.

Rushing – After beating dook or winning a natty in basketball, students flood Franklin Street, burn couches in fires (and hop over said fires), and jump on each other’s shoulders. When the clock hits zero, students drop everything and sprint to Franklin and MLK from wherever they were watching the game. This is the ONLY way to celebrate the most important victories (I promise its super fun and will be a highlight of your year).

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Waterpocalypse – Another throwback that you may hear the older Heels talking about. In the Spring of 2017 UNC’s water was infected, cancelling classes that Friday afternoon and causing much of campus to evacuate. In a funny way, this brought students together as we struggled to relocate or survive waterless for the weekend.

 

If I missed your fav UNC term, leave it & it’s definition in the comments!! As always, it’s a GDTBATH and GTHD!!

Can I Start Packing Yet?

Freshman college move-in day… crazy, right? Seems like just yesterday you were working up the nerves for your first day of high school. Well, that’s definitely how I felt. But it’s happening. In fact, today marks just 50 days until first-year move-in weekend! Does preparing for this monumental day seem overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. Here’s my insight on how to pack for college like an upperclassman.

There’s Two Types of People…

This time two years ago, I probably already had my hallways at home lined with all the necessities… and then some. Queen of overpacking, it’s safe to say I didn’t nail the concept of simplicity. But you live and you learn, right?

While packing for college there’s the over packers and the under packers. There’s the ones, like me, that read every blog and Pinterest post on how to pack for college on the face of the internet and began packing from the moment they got their housing assignments. On the other hand, there’s those that figure they can get all the necessities in a suitcase the night before. Don’t be either of these people – find a happy medium.

Seriously, you’ll thank yourself if you manage to find that perfect balance between the bare minimum and way too much. It’s definitely not too soon to start thinking what you’re going to bring with you into the next stage of your life. But that doesn’t mean you need to keep piling things up all summer long. It just gives you more time to think about strategic ways to make your dorm the best home it can possibly be!

Step #1: Talk to Your Roomie

Microwave, mini fridge, rug, curtains, futons, extra shelving – these are all the things you don’t need two of. Communicating with your roommate in advance will not only make packing and moving in easier, it will also give you added space in your dorm!

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Step #2: Look into RHA Enhancements

This is a super cool perk of living on-campus! You can check out ‘enhancements’ from your community office, including cookware, cleaning supplies, board games, DVD’s, and more with your One Card! Most enhancements you can keep for up to 48 hours and can check out as many times as you want throughout the semester.

So if you were planning on bringing that cupcake pan, mixing bowl, and whisk just in case you wanted to surprise your roommate on their birthday – leave it at home. If you have a meal plan, you probably won’t be cooking that often anyway, so it’s better to take advantage of this great resource!

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No catch here, thanks RHA!!!

Step #3: Remember that UNC isn’t a Deserted Island

If you forget something, I promise everything will be okay. We have a Target essentially on-campus, as well as a Walmart and Harris Teeter just a short drive away. Amazon prime will be your best friend, and students get a discounted rate!

This is also a great way to make friends. Knock on your neighbor’s door, introduce yourself, and ask to borrow their (whatever you forgot). Maybe this is how you’ll meet your future bestie, you can thank me later.

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Like the opposite of UNC

End Goal – Keep It Light

Repeat after me: you don’t need to bring your whole closet on move-in day. I know, NC weather is bipolar and you never know what you’re going to get. But you will not need your whole winter wardrobe before Fall break.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll live in t-shirts and norts in college. And from the amount of free Carolina blue t-shirts you’ll get at sporting events, extracurricular activities, and just walking around on campus – you don’t need to stock up. Seriously, I had to send some of my free t-shirts home this year because they didn’t fit in my drawers…

When you’re packing your things, really ask yourself if you’ll need it all. If you’re packing something that you may need in only one very specific situation, you can probably leave it at home. Worst comes to worst, you can get your parents to mail it to you!

 

My Dad loves to roast me on Snapchat for how much I overpacked…

Trust me, packing light is the way to go. Whether you live on the 1st floor or the 10th floor, you don’t want to be lugging two car loads full of things you’ll probably never touch up and down the stairs in 100-degree heat. Your family will definitely thank you if you minimize the work for them… right Dad???

Leaving Your Heel Print

With almost 19,000 undergraduates, it would hypothetically be easy to blend in at Carolina. But one of my favorite things about our university is that “blending in” isn’t something Tar Heels love to do. There are so many ways to get involved in campus to make yourself stand out that make 19,000 not seem so big or scary at all!

Join a Student Organization

With over 800 student organizations to choose from, it’s almost impossible to not fall in love with at least one! With everything from politics to dance to service, there is sure to be an organization with your name written all over it.

Eight hundred options can seem overwhelming, that’s why Carolina Union hosts FallFest at the end of move in weekend each year. At this beloved UNC event, hundreds of representatives from student organizations set up tables to explain why YOU should join their organization. It’s a super fun event complete with free food, performances, and meeting new friends!

Fall Fest is a popular event for new and returning Heels alike!

Become a Leader in your Org

Once you get settled into the organizations you’re passionate about, stay dedicated to them. Being a leader in a college organization has shaped my Carolina experience. While you may have been president of your high school’s National Honor’s Society chapter, leading a university organization comes with much more responsibility and power. The officers are in charge of everything, from finances to registering with the university to dealing with internal conflicts. By holding a leadership position, not only are you impacting your organization, you also learn a lot about yourself and maybe even your future goals!

Get Involved in Greek Life

This is a popular one that I’m sure you’ve heard all about, and probably have your own ideas about already. While this wasn’t the route for me, I have tons of friends who have found their home at Carolina in a sorority or fraternity. Keep in mind that the meaning and importance of Greek Life extends way beyond all the stereotypes. I highly recommend looking into it with an open mind to explore if you’re interested in rushing!

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Members of UNC Fraternities and Sororities coming together.

Participate in an Intramural Sport

Continuing with the theme of endless options, UNC offers over 50 intramural sports for all skill levels. This is a fun way to channel your inner natty champ winning athlete, get your exercise in, and meet tons of cool people!

From sit-down volleyball to cornhole, there are tons of unique sports for you to try! And if you can’t find your passion, you are more than welcome to start your own team. All you have to do is pull together a few teammates and register with Campus Rec! For more details, check out this link.

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Win an event, score a coveted Intramural Champ T-Shirt!

…Or Just Attend Sporting Events

If you, like me, aren’t as athletically gifted, you can still get involved while staying on the sidelines! Even with little knowledge of sports (speaking from experience) supporting your talented peers can be tons of fun. At the University of National Champions, we’re really into school spirit so this one is a must. With free tickets to games, you might as well take advantage of this incredible perk while you’ve got it. Supporting the Heels is honestly therapeutic, you can let out all the stress from classes with one big “TARRRR…”

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#GetIntoIt!!!!!

Bond with a Professor or Mentor

The staff at UNC is amazing and they are all so incredibly passionate about their jobs – teaching you! Even in those huge lecture halls where it can be easy to sit in the back row, go that extra mile to make sure your professor knows you. Whether it’s sticking around for a couple of minutes after class, shooting them an email, or attending office hours, professors will appreciate students that express interest!

Even if you understand the course material perfectly, simply introducing yourself is a great way to start getting involved in the UNC community. Adults have been in our position and can offer everything from job references to life advice.

 

Bottom line is: no matter how you do it, step outside of your comfort zone and get involved! At Carolina there are so many ways to do so without ever leaving campus, and involvement will help you find yourself, your people and even what you want to do with your life. Don’t spend your four years in your dorm!

Managing Money

If you’re an incoming first year, you may wonder if the broke college student life is real?  Even as a returning student you could be in that current state as we speak (well read). Either way, whomever you may be, I’m going to share some tips on how to save your shmoneyy and get your coins.

FOOD. FOOD. FOOD.

Image result for buying food gifSince we’re notorious for being broke college students, ever wonder what we spend the most money on? It is known that most college students spend a lot of money on food, and after just my first year I can definitely attest to that. Whether it’s grabbing a bite out with friends or ordering in, we tend to overspend on meals. So, in order to avoid all the unnecessary expenses on food, it is wise to add dinning flex to your UNC One Card. For those of you who may not know, you can add flex which is basically money specifically for food to your UNC One Card. This will allow you to pay for meals by swiping (like a regular card) at those dinning locations all around campus and even some places on Franklin Street. This way you have allotted money that is specifically for food so you wont have to worry about impulse buying. Also, if you have a meal plan on campus, make sure to utilize those green to-go boxes to store food for later, so you can not only save a swipe but you won’t have to worry about your next meal. In addition, purchasing snacks or groceries to keep in your room is smarter as you’re able to grab something from your fridge easily instead of having to order something. Needless to say, grabbing a meal with friends or ordering your favorite pizza once in awhile is okay but try to avoid overspending so you can save your coins for other things.

GETTING A JOB OR INTERNSHIP

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Although your main priority for coming to college is to get that degree, if you have the time or chance, picking up a part-time job or finding a paid internship can very beneficial. Not only will you be rewarded financially but you are also getting experiences that will allow you to develop your skills that you can eventually put on your resume. Working is also an opportunity that will help you learn how to save because you will soon come to realize the value and/or struggle of making a buck. Having a job also teaches you management and organization which you can apply to saving money and spending, or in this case not spending. Nonetheless, getting that paycheck every other week is a sweet feeling and is even sweeter when you don’t go out the next day and spend it all.  Of course, you deserve to treat your self for all that hard work but don’t go overboard so that all your hard earned money won’t be wasted on things you’ll never use or that are unnecessary.

 

BUDGETING

As lame and tedious as that may sound, it’s very beneficial to have a budget planned for the school year cause if not well…

Creating a plan or system where you allot specific amount of money to certain things like clothes, going out, school supplies and groceries will help you visually map out the needs from the wants. It gives you the chance to see where your bad spending habits are, and also helps you find ways to organize your expenses. Also, when budgeting you can create a certain plan to save money (like 50% of you paycheck goes to your saving account) that way you will have the funds in case of an emergency or unexpected circumstances. Most banks have budgeting softwares within their banking apps or you can simply write out a plan in your notes and take control! Additionally, UNC hosts many events targeted to students like us, who struggle with spending money so be sure to look out for flyers to get some tips from professionals about how to budget and save! There are many resources available and many are at your fingertips, so be sure to use them while you can to avoid breaking the bank.

How to Survive Finals Week!

Finals week can be an incredibly overwhelming end to the semester as your classes cram all the material you have learned into one test. In addition to studying, a lot, there are numerous ways for you to ensure your finals week goes by as smoothly as possible! Below are some tips that have gotten me through my finals during my two years at UNC!

1. Take Care of Chores Beforehand

During finals week, your brain is often working at maximum capacity, possibly storing analytical chemistry knowledge one day, and medieval Europe material the next. Because of the frantic schedule of finals week, it helps if you can eliminate chores beforehand. For example, buying final exam materials, such as blue books (used for writing exams), or scantrons beforehand can ensure that you do not forget them the day of the exam! Additionally, doing your laundry before finals week helps free up your schedule so you will not have to worry about clothes while studying. By doing chores beforehand, you maximize time for what truly matters during finals week : sleep, food, and studying!

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2. Take Advantage of Residence Hall Study Lounges!

Students tend to gravitate towards the libraries on campus such as Wilson, Davis, or the Undergraduate Library during finals week. Because most students are planning to study at the libraries, they can often become very crowded and hard to find seats in. For this reason, the study lounges that come with every residence hall can be an excellent resource for studying without the packed atmosphere! Personally, I enjoyed using the study lounges in Horton during finals week because it was so close to my room as opposed to the North Campus libraries (Wilson, Davis, and the Undergraduate Library)!

Pictured : Craige North Residence Hall Study Lounge

3. Exercise is Your Friend!

For many students during finals week, exercise is the first thing to be sacrificed in exchange for study time. However, exercising can be a worthwhile study break that relieves stress which is effective in improving your mentality and preventing the potential onset of stress-induced acne. Also, exercising with a friend can be used as a much needed break to be social and remind yourself that finals week can be more than confining yourself to the company of only books and study guides!

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4. Don’t Forget to Eat!

While putting in long hours of studying for exams it’s easy to simply “work through meals.”  However, by forgetting to eat three meals a day, you can be lowering your overall energy levels which can negatively affect studying and test performance. Additionally, it’s vital to eat a well-rounded meal to ensure you are fueling your body for success. For example, fresh fruit can be used as a much needed sugar boost while eggs can be an excellent source of protein!

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5. Make Time for Sleep!

One of the worst aspects of finals week is the dreaded all-night study sessions that result in eye bags and drained energy. Often times, all-night study sessions can be replaced with waking up early, and studying efficiently throughout the day. Also, by reaching around 7-8 hours of sleep a night, you will be able to approach your final exam with fresh eyes and a rested mind. Personally, after performing an all-night study session, I have found myself making small mistakes that simply result from a lack of sleep.

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How I Fell in Love with Carolina

UNC is a constant sea of Carolina Blue, filled with die hard Tar Heels who have been born and bred into the family… or at least that’s how the saying goes. But for me, and many other students, this isn’t the case. In fact, my story of how I came to bleed Carolina blue is quite different than the alma mater I chant at the end of every game.

2012

My story starts six years ago when my big sister decided to go to UNC, and I decided (out of sibling spite) I would love Dook. I wasn’t devoted to our gothic rivals, but I took every opportunity I could find to remind my sister what I believed to be true, that Dook was the better blue (which as we all know is a down right lie).

On move-in day I put on a Tar Heel shirt (the least Carolina Blue one I could find) to show my support, but on every other day I would sport Devils gear when I could find it – which became a difficult task growing up in a Tar Heel family. I would take pictures in Dook hats thinking I was so cool; pictures that are now so embarrassing and often come back to haunt me.

My sister (Bryanna MacKay) and I on her freshman move-in day, circa 2012.

2016

Flash forward two years… it’s college decision time for me and I’m an absolute wreck without a dream school or clear path. Carolina seemed like a good fit and an obvious choice being an in-state student, so I applied here and five other schools. After I got back all my decisions I was torn between UNC and Syracuse University – two schools that checked off every box on my list. They both felt like they could be my future home, each with a great journalism program and big on school spirit. They also happened to be two schools playing each other in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four.

Everything in my heart was telling me to go to UNC, but I needed a little push to solidify my decision. So I told my Dad “If Carolina wins tonight, I’m enrolling tomorrow.” He laughed it off, but I was incredibly serious. On April 2nd, 2016, the Tar Heels beat the Orange 83 to 66. On April 3rd, 2016, I paid my enrollment deposit to UNC Chapel Hill.

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THANK YOU Heels, for winning this game and deciding my fate.

Today

Since that moment, I’ve never had a single doubt in my mind that I made a wrong decision. I remember walking through the pit one day in maybe my second week on campus thinking “I’m so lucky”. After all, we get to take classes and live in the most beautiful place in the South, what more could we really ask for??

It’s the way the sun hits the quad under a mesmerizing Carolina blue sky. It’s the smile on the little boy’s face as he walks into the Dean Smith Center with the sparkling number 23 on his chest. Or the feeling of never being completely alone, even if when you feel like you’re hitting rock bottom during finals.

Calling myself a ‘dook fan’ growing up is no comparison to my dedication to this university. There is nothing that gets me more excited than waking up early on a Saturday morning to wait three hours in the cold for a spot on the risers. I will always get goosebumps during the Tar Heel lights show and tear up during the intro video (seven… seven… SEVEN national championships). And I will always shout the alma mater from the top of my lungs, win or lose.

Me (front row, right) taking jump around too seriously, per usual.

I love Carolina for welcoming me in and never making me feel like I was an outsider. When I chant “I’m a Tar Heel born, I’m a Tar Heel bred, and when I die I’m a Tar Heel dead”, I really feel like that’s true and it unites me with all my classmates – no matter what our backgrounds may be.

My point is you don’t have to be born into the Carolina family to be a Tar Heel. All those who support UNC support each other, no matter who you have supported in the past. And to me, that’s why this university is such a priceless gem.

Best Ways To Get To Know Your Residence Hall!

When moving into a new residence hall, meeting people can be a daunting task because it seems like everyone is fixed on their own routine. However, the vast majority of students are eager to meet new friends and are simply uncertain about how to start the first conversation. Here are some tips that will ensure you get a chance to meet some of your potential best college friends!

1. Keep an Open Door Policy

Once you are done moving into your residence hall, it is wise to keep your door open to convey a friendly vibe. By having your door open, your hallmates will often visit your room to introduce themselves. Through these introductions, you might find that you have similar music, movie, or sports interests with your hallmates and find a quality friend!

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2. Go to the First Hall Meeting

Most RAs (Resident Assistants) will host a hall meeting for their residents after move-in day. This meeting can not only be an excellent way to find out information about future residence hall events, but also a great way to meet new friends. The vast majority of the people at the first hall meeting will not know each other so everyone is keen on making new friends! Also, the first hall meeting often includes some type of free snack which is reason enough to go! For example, my first hall meeting at Horton Residence Hall featured some delicious brownies.

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3. Take Advantage of Residence Hall Events

Residence halls often feature different entertaining events that numerous residents attend. For example, trivia nights, free food, and friendly sports competitions are all common events! Because so many residents attend these events, also going is a excellent way to meet new friends and familiarize yourself with your residence hall. While in Horton Residence Hall, there were many events that involved free pizza where I met new friends while also enjoying free food!

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4. Become Everyone’s Best Friend Through Baking!

Taking advantage of the community kitchens that come with every residence hall at UNC can also be a way to meet new friends! For example, I met one of my good friends in Horton Residence Hall through her messaging our group chat for our hall saying to come by her room if anyone wanted cookies. For obvious reasons, a good amount of people showed up to the room. However, people did not just grab a cookie and leave, they tended to hang around and have a conversation. For this reason, baking something for the hall can be a great way to meet new people!

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5. Work on Homework in the Study Lounge

The study lounges in the different residence halls at UNC are a worthwhile place to work because of the available space to focus. Despite the study lounges usually being a quiet space, they can also be a great place to meet people in your residence hall! Often people will introduce themselves to different people in study lounges which makes it a great place to find a potential study buddy!

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Your residence hall will often be the place you find some of your best college friends. By taking the initiative to be social, you will quickly become familiar with your residence hall!

Tips on Making Your 8 A.M Class!

For many college students, having an 8 a.m. class in their schedule can be a terrible way to start the day. However, that does not have to be the case! By making small adjustments in your routine, and picking the right class, having an 8 a.m can be an excellent way to get more use out of the day!

1. Take a Class You Are Interested In

As you wake up to a blaring alarm clock during the early hours of the morning, the thought will definitely cross your mind “should I even go to this class?” To make sure you do not lay your head back on the pillow, it helps if your 8 a.m is a class you’re interested in. Having an interesting 8 a.m will not only increase your chances of making the class, but will also make the class time more enjoyable. Instead of fighting to stay awake in class, because the course material will be personally engaging, you will be more attentive in class!

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2. Mandatory Attendance

If taking an interesting 8 a.m is not enough to coerce you to get out of bed, a required attendance policy might. Many professors have required attendance for their classes meaning you can only miss a limited amount of days before you start having points deducted. By having a direct consequence for missing class, most students will find a way to attend classes with required attendance. For this reason, seeking out an 8 a.m class with a required attendance policy can ensure that you do not miss class!

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3. Everything is Better With Friends!

When going to a class alone, it is easy to convince yourself that skipping is not that bad. However, when taking a class with a friend, you are becoming accountable to another person. That being said, if you skip your 8 a.m then you will certainly be receiving a disappointed text message from your friend who made it to class. Additionally, any class is better with a friend to talk to!

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4. Keep Your Alarm Clock Away From Your Bed

One trap that makes it easier to oversleep for class is having an alarm clock that is too close to your bed. Whether you use an actual alarm clock, or your phone, it helps if you place it away from your bed before you go to sleep. The reasoning is, by getting out of bed, and walking to your ringing alarm clock, you will be less likely to go back to sleep because you are no longer in your cozy cocoon of a dorm bed.

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5. Keeping a Healthy Sleep Schedule

Managing to consistently attend an 8 a.m class can be difficult, but can be made nearly impossible by a terrible sleep schedule. For this reason, striving to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep before having to wake up for your 8 a.m is ideal. This can be easier accomplished by staying productive during the day so that you are less likely to have to sacrifice sleep for late-night homework sessions!

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