One year ago today I decided to come to Chapel Hill. After a lot of struggling with the decision, my parents and I had sat down and looked at the pros and cons of attending UNC and decided together that it was the school for me – and I am so grateful that we did.
In the past eight months, UNC has become more than just my college, or a home away from home… it has truly become my second home.
That is not to say that I don’t miss my family while I am here, or that I don’t miss the beach, my home church, my mom’s cooking, or my dad surprising me by filling up my gas – because of course I do. I still talk to my mom almost every day on the phone, text my dad and sister practically every day, and text Jacob (with no response every time I might add) about once a week.
But in the midst of missing my family back in my Currituck home, I have come to realize just how much the home I have in Chapel Hill means to me.
It’s the place where I have 10 of my closest friends within five minutes of me at any given time. The place where I can take for granted how many amazingly interesting people I meet every day because of the sheer number of them. The place where I’ve come to know people with the same passions as me – such as Special Olympics, helping children, and Christ. The place that I’ve gotten to find a church community and bible study groups I love on my own. Its the place where any number of friends will use their meal swipes to bring me food while I’m sick with the flu (cough, cough, right now).
It’s the place where I finally attended my first UNC Basketball game, but it was better that way because now I can say that I’ve cheered like a maniac in the student section at every game I’ve attended. It’s the place where I got to rush Franklin twice with some of the best friends during my freshman year. It’s the place where I didn’t mind going to my 8 a.m. running on three hours of sleep the morning after the National Championship.
Yes, I feel pretty blessed that I get to attend one of the best public universities in the nation – that I get to study Journalism at a school that has produced countless numbers of successful alumni and prestigious awards. But I feel a million times luckier to be a part of something even more holistic and important than how my school lines up in various rankings – to be a part of the Carolina family.
UNC is much more than its rankings, titles, awards, and yes, even championships. Of course those things matter, but what matters more is the sense of family that being a Tarheel gives you. It’s the people at UNC – the friends you make, students in your classes, the one-of-a-kind professors you actually have quite frequently, and the staff you get to know across campus. It’s the places at UNC – the Old Well on FDOCs, the Pit at lunchtime, the quad on a beautiful day, the “trek” from south campus to classes walked with a friend, and even the good ole’ dining halls.
It’s who you become while you’re here – the ways in which you are constantly challenged and refined, the ways in which you grow. It’s the lowest of lows in impossible classes, followed by the highs you experience when you overcome those same academic challenges. It’s finding your truest self, and then having all the opportunities in the world to get to know that person.
Of course, I may be biased, seeing as I go here and all. But every time I join in the Alma Mater or walk in a sea of Carolina blue, I am reminded that, at least for me, UNC is the best school in the world. And that is what Chapel Hill means to me.
Hark the sound of Tar Heel voices
Ringing clear and true
Singing Carolina’s praises
Hail to the brightest star of all
Clear its radiance shine
Carolina priceless gem,
Receive all praises thine.
I’m a Tar Heel born I’m a Tar Heel bred
And when I die I’ll be Tar Heel dead
So it’s RAH, RAH, Carolina ‘lina
RAH, RAH, Carolina ‘lina
RAH, RAH, Carolina ‘lina
(Go to heck Duke!)
-Hark the Sound, 1897
[Okay full disclosure: I fully intended on writing this yesterday, but college happened, so in reality this should’ve started off with “one year and a day ago today,” but that just isn’t as catchy, so let’s pretend I posted as planned.]