Food, Glorious Food: Matt

What many people think when asked about the typical American meal is something that is served quickly, eaten quickly, large and kinda on the unhealthy side of things. Whilst it is true that Americans love to eat Burgers, fries, hotdogs, chicken wings and there is a lot more that the US and North Carolina can offer to excite those taste buds.

Chapel Hill has a great foodie scene. There are a range of different places to eat, from high end restaurants, to takeaway burger joints all of which can be found on Franklin Street. There are Italian, Indian, Japanese and Greek restaurant as well as classic American diners. My personal favourite places to eat in Chapel Hill are Al’s Burger Shack, Spicy 9, Tru, and Sup Dogs. There are still heaps of places that I haven’t tried yet so that list can change in an instant.

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Sup Dogs
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Spicy 9
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Not often that you need two plates to hold a slice of Pizza
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Al’s Burger Shack

 

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As for the cuisine in North Carolina, like many of the southern states, barbeque is a big deal over here. The state’s speciality is pulled pork which is pretty much pork that has been shredded up. Fried Chicken is also a big deal and if you do venture to North Carolina, visit a Bojangles restaurant as they do some quality chicken and hearty southern cuisine. Another great way to experience American food culture is to head to the annual North Carolina State fair. If you are lucky enough to spend the fall semester in North Carolina, you will have no problem finding endless displays of deep fried oreos, candy and giant turkey legs at the annual state fair.  North Carolinians are big on Sweet Tea when it comes to quenching one’s thirst. I kinda see what the fuss is all about especially during the summer months when a cold drink becomes a godsend. But for me, it felt like I was drinking a cup of cup of tea that I had left behind on the kitchen table with an excess amount of sugar.

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Sunday’s are for Football and wings
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North Carolina State Fair

You will have no problem finding good places to eat while you’re in Chapel Hill. Since we are on the topic of food, I should talk about the situation with meal plans at UNC. UNC has two Dining halls: Lenoir and Chase. There is another at Granville towers, but it is run separately. Both are conveniently located with Lenoir on North Campus and Chase on South Campus. To eat at these halls, you can pay as you go with cash or card, or you can purchase a meal plan and use your Onecard (like a student id card) to swipe yourself in. Depending on what meal plan you choose, you get a certain number of swipes. Some pay for an unlimited plan where they can go into the dining hall as often as possible without worrying about running out of swipes. Others opt for the 120 plan where you are given 120 swipes for the semester. I opted for the 120 plan because it was the cheapest option and allows me to use the dining hall approximately once a day. The dining halls are open all day and depending on the time, you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is a great variety of food which caters to just about everyone, and it is extremely convenient.

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Accommodation Awards: Daryn

The first piece of advice I would give anyone looking for accommodation is to start your search early. Most Universities will have an application deadline for first choice accommodation, and off-grounds housing becomes much scarcer closer to the start of the semester. It feels a lot better to have a place to stay sorted early, rather than worrying as the semester looms closer!

At UVA there are two types of housing: on-grounds and off-grounds. On-grounds housing is provided by the University of Virginia but with off-grounds housing it’s up to you to find somewhere to live.

As you’ve probably seen in any movie which features a U.S. college, it is very common for students to live in the same room with a roommate. UVA is no exception, so expect to have a roommate in nearly any on-grounds housing you choose. There are options at some residences for single rooms but I would say it’s best to expect to have a roommate – and it is the ‘traditional’ U.S. college experience after all!

Best Community

First up is the International Residence College, or IRC. This is a residence targeted at developing an international community on grounds and consists of approximately 300 students, of which around 40% are from overseas. The IRC is located close to grounds, has single and double rooms, and features common kitchen and lounge spaces. A unique aspect of the IRC is the range of events offered including weekly morning teas, afternoon teas, and breakfasts, along with a range of other events such as Conversazione Grande dinners and trips. The IRC is located adjacent to Emmet Street and is a short five-minute walk to central grounds.

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Best for Shopping

Lambeth Field Apartments, or just Lambeth, are down the road from the IRC, and offer apartment-style housing. Each apartment has two or three double rooms with a living area and kitchen. Lambeth Apartments are a bit utilitarian on the inside than other residences, but are more than adequate for students. Lambeth Field Apartments border its namesake, Lambeth Field, an excellent place to throw a frisbee around or play a game of football. Lambeth is convenient for your shopping needs, featuring its own convenience store, and is situated a ten-minute walk from the Barracks Road Shopping Centre. Lambeth is also a ten-minute walk to central grounds.

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Most Modern Accommodation

The Flats at West Village are a modern apartment block located a five-minute walk from The Corner, and around a fifteen to twenty-minute walk to UVA’s central grounds.

To make up for the longer walk the Flats offer a range of modern amenities including a pool, spa, gym, and lobby area with coffee machines. The Flats has one to four-room apartment style suites, with most rooms having a private ensuite bathroom. The rooms share a common lounge and dining area.

Unfortunately all good things come at a price – modern apartments such as The Flats tend to be the most expensive housing option for students. However, if you like the sound of The Flats at West Village, other modern apartment buildings to check out include the GrandMarc and Uncommon.

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Best Everyday Experience

I personally chose to stay off-grounds – it can work out cheaper, you can get a single room (for those of us not keen on sharing a room!), and you have a lot more choice in terms of the type of accommodation and the location.

The two main methods I used to find off-grounds housing were the UVA Housing Facebook Group and the UVA Roommates website.

As an exchange student if you’re here for one semester like me, it can be difficult to find off-grounds housing. As I mentioned earlier the best strategy is to search early. Often UVA students who are studying abroad will look for people to fill their rooms while they are overseas. I am subletting a room from a UVA student who is studying abroad for the Fall Semester – a perfect situation for both of us!

I’m staying in an off-grounds house which is around a 10-minute walk to central grounds and 10 minutes to ‘The Corner,’ the street adjacent UVA grounds with an assortment of shops and cafes. My room is a decent size, and was furnished, saving me from the hassle of organising furniture.

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Additional Information

Most private leases through apartment companies (such as The Flats) or private leases for student accommodation will be for one year. This means you may be responsible for finding a tenant for the remainder of your lease if you’re staying for one semester. Keep this consideration in mind when finding a place. It is preferable to find a one-semester lease or sublet if possible.

Rooms may be furnished but be sure to find out what this means – one person’s definition of furnished may be different to yours.

No matter where you end up living I am sure you will learn to appreciate the pros and cons of your place during your exchange!

Contact Me

I’ve tried to briefly cover some housing options for exchange students at UVA, but my list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about housing, UVA, or studying abroad in general!

You can email me at dgov422@aucklanduni.ac.nz, or comment below.

 

Food, Glorious Food: Daryn

I’ve experienced some differences in the U.S. when it comes to food. First are the naming differences: burgers are ‘sandwiches,’ ‘biscuits’ are scone-like delicacies, and soft drinks are ‘soda.’ Secondly is the relative processing of food – it can take a bit of searching to find healthier alternatives such as mostly sugar-free cereals!  I’ll cover a few places around Charlottesville to give you a taste of what’s available around UVA.

My Charlottesville Favourites

Bodo’s Bagels

Bodo’s is a must-try in Charlottesville. It’s a Charlottesville original offering a range of reasonably priced bagels with various toppings such as meats, salads, and cream cheeses made in-house. The possible combinations of bagels and toppings are endless, but my favourites are the egg and bacon on a plain bagel, and the cinnamon sugar and butter on a cinnamon and raisin bagel. It’s an excellent place for any meal of the day and has three locations in Charlottesville for your convenience, including on The Corner adjacent to grounds.

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The Virginian

The Virginian is Charlottesville’s oldest restaurants, first opening in 1923 and is located centrally on The Corner. Its menu includes a range of classics including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and its signature mac and cheese. The restaurant has a lively atmosphere and is decorated with photos and memorabilia documenting the history of Charlottesville and the Virginian. Called ‘one of the South’s most famous eateries,’ in Coy Barefoot’s book ‘The Corner,’ The Virginian should be on your list during any visit to Charlottesville.

 

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The Sheepdog Café

The Sheepdog Café is in the foyer of the Graduate Hotel on West Main Street. The café has an excellent ambience for studying featuring outdoor patio tables and rustic indoor seating. There’s even a walk-up window if you’re short on time! The food on offer includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I would recommend trying a sandwich, biscuit, or the mini-donuts.

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The Pie Chest

The Pie Chest is known for their excellent range of sweet and savoury pies made from scratch. Pies are available in single servings or in family-sized pies. I would suggest trying the Chocolate Cream Pie or the Chicken, Bacon, and Roasted Garlic Pot Pie. The Pie Chest is on 4th Street in the Downtown Mall. It’s a bit far away from grounds but the effort is worth it!

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Honourable Mentions

Roots

I haven’t made it to Roots yet, but take my word, and the words of others, when I say it’s good! The queues here speak for themselves. As for the food, think a refined version of Chipotle – your choice of meat, salads, staples, and dressings. There are a range of set bowls, or you can customise your own.

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Chick-fil-A

Although not strictly a Charlottesville original, Chick-fil-A has the honour of being one of the few chain restaurants to be represented on-grounds. As the name suggests, Chick-fil-A offers all kinds of chicken: burgers, nuggets, tenders, and salads. Make sure that you try the signature Chick-fil-A sauces – they’re a big part of the Chick-fil-A experience!

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Contact Me

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about UVA or studying abroad in general!

You can email me at dgov422@aucklanduni.ac.nz, or comment below. Follow my time abroad on Instagram @daryngovender_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accommodation Awards: Matt

At UNC, exchange students are given a variety of housing options to choose from. I will give you guys a run down on the on-campus housing situation over here and give my opinions of the pros and cons for each option.

At UNC, if you select on-campus housing, you must decide the location and style of dorm you prefer. UNC can be split into three parts: North Campus, South Campus, and Mid-Campus.

North Campus dorms are corridor style, meaning that you will be sharing a large bathroom with people on your floor. North Campus is convenient location wise. You are within a 5-10-minute walk from most of your classes and Franklin Street. These dorms are very pretty and historic, however they tend to be occupied by older students so depending on your floor, it might be a little quiet.

South Campus dorms are suite style. Each suite contains 4 bedrooms sharing a bathroom. South Campus tends to be occupied by younger students, so it is louder than North Campus. There is a bit of an uphill walk to class, but really, I have not found this to be a problem.

Mid-campus also has suite style dorms and is more of a mix of both North and South Campus.

As for myself, I opted to live on South Campus. My dorm is Morrison Hall, and houses roughly 800 students.

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Morrison Hall

The dorm has 10 floors and a large basement area which includes a study room and a games room. There is also a basketball court outside and a nice green area to relax in the sunshine. 

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Games Room

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Despite being located on South Campus, I have found the location to be very convenient as it is next door to Chase Dining Hall and Rams Gym. Being the farthest north of the south campus dorms, it only takes 15 minutes to walk to the pit and to class. Also, it is right next door to the football stadium, with the basketball stadium only a 10 minute walk away. Franklin street is a little bit far to walk, however there is a free bus to Franklin called the P2P that stops outside Morrison every 15 minutes. Buying a bicycle would be a pretty good idea to cut the journey time also and I know of many exchange students who have done so.

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Chase Dining Hall

As mentioned before, my dorm is suite-style. If you do opt for on-campus housing, be prepared to share a room with a roommate. It might sound daunting at first, however you will get to a point where you will barely notice that you are sharing a room with another person. Nevertheless, it is a great way to meet Americans from the get-go. Below are a few more photos of my dorm.

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Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas?
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Sorry about the mess!
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View from the 10th Floor

Adobe Spark (12)

First Impressions: Daryn

Hey everyone, it’s been nearly a year in the making but I’ve finally made it to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, or UVA!

Preparation

There are a lot of things that you need to do before exchange, but it is worth it! The 360 International application, your Exchange University application, Visas, Health and Travel Insurance, Accommodation, and everything else can take a while to get sorted. My advice would be to keep on top of things, especially your Visa and immigration forms, and if you’re looking to live off-campus, start your search as early as you can.

Getting to Charlottesville

I chose to fly with Air New Zealand direct to Houston with a two-night stopover. I was lucky to visit Houston a few days before Hurricane Harvey, so hope that the city recovers quickly. After this I flew via Charlotte, North Carolina and arrived at Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, around a 15-minute drive to downtown. Charlottesville takes its role as a University city seriously, and it’s not uncommon to see UVA branding on almost anything including the airport, cars, and even on the road!

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Flying to Charlottesville

 

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Charlottesville Albemarle Airport Arrivals

Initial Impressions

I arrived in Charlottesville in the aftermath of the violence and rallies of August 11 and 12. Although it was a bit unsettling to see the events in the news before arriving, everyone I talked to was adamant that the protests did not represent the true Charlottesville.

Charlottesville is a university town with most things centred around campus and ‘The Corner,’ a row of cafes, restaurants, and shops adjacent to the Rotunda.

I chose to live off-campus so could move in as soon as I arrived. I’m fortunate to live in a house with a bunch of great guys (who are obsessed with Africa by Toto), but more on housing in my next post.

 

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Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall

Grounds

UVA has a lot of its own unique terms, one of them being ‘grounds,’ which means the University campus. The grounds are the only American University designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why. From the flagship Rotunda and Lawn, to the Amphitheatre and numerous statues, UVA is a beautiful place to visit every day. There’s all you would expect from a University: numerous libraries, dining halls, the bookstore, gymnasiums, and sports stadiums. No matter the time of day, nothing beats walking up the lawn and glimpsing the Rotunda, designed by Thomas Jefferson and inspired by Rome’s Parthenon.

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The Rotunda

UVA’s grounds are vast, so walks can be lengthy between some buildings. Fortunately, the free University Transit Service has you covered with frequent buses to, from, and around grounds. Charlottesville Area Transit also provides free rides on their bus network to UVA students, which is handy for trips further afield.

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Beta Bridge welcoming International Students

Orientation and Classes

The orientation for exchange students was on the Sunday before classes, covering class enrolment, general tips, and paperwork, followed by ice cream! The International Students Office is handy for any questions, from ID cards to travel, and the advisors there are always friendly.

There’s always a range of events going on for International Students such as Pizza on the Lawn, an International Students’ Picnic, and a trip to Washington, D.C.

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The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I’m based in the College of Arts and Sciences (also known as ‘the College’), which is the largest of UVA’s ten schools. Students are encouraged to visit a range of classes to see what interests them. I spent the first few days visiting a range of classes before I finalised my timetable. My two core courses are in the Economics Department but I’ve taken the opportunity study classes that I wouldn’t normally take at Auckland in Entrepreneurship, Creative Writing, and Politics.

Classes at UVA vary widely – my economics classes are in ‘traditional’ lecture-style classes, while the other three have between nine and eighteen students. These courses are focussed on student and professor discussions, something which is a bit different for me. The professors get to know your name and it’s certainly obvious if you don’t attend!

Being summer the weather is quite hot and the air conditioning in classes is a welcome relief. I’m told that the Fall Semester allows you to experience the full range of weather as the trees shed leaves, and there’s even a chance of snow in December.

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Grounds looking towards the UVA Chapel

Clubs

UVA boasts over 700 student-run clubs and organisations (about one for every 30 students), so there are many options to get involved. A Fall Activities Fair was held on the Lawn and in the amphitheatre the day before classes started. The most common strategy by students is to sign up to anything that interests them and to be more selective once the semester starts. I’m involved in a few clubs, including The Cavalier Daily as a Photographer and News Writer.

The Cavalier Daily is UVA’s student newspaper, Charlottesville’s oldest paper, and was named as one of the top 10 College Newspapers in the country. For those of you interested in fraternities and sororities, they do recruit in the Fall Semester, but the ones that I talked to are only looking for students who will be at UVA for at least a year.

 

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UVA Fall Activities Fair
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Taking Photos for the Cavalier Daily

Activities

If you look hard enough, there are always things happening on and around grounds. I’ve been to talks featuring NASA Astronaut and UVA alumnus Thomas Marshburn, Political Scientist Larry Sabato, a tour of Charlottesville start-ups run by Hack Cville, an International Student’s trip to Washington, D.C., volunteering for the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program, pre-games, football, eclipse watching, taking photographs of sports games, and more.

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The first football game of the season

The Dave Matthews band hosted the Concert for Charlottesville, an evening for the community to unite in the face of recent events. This was an action-packed event, featuring performances from Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Coldplay, and Stevie Wonder, all held at UVA’s home of football, Scott Stadium.

Other things to keep on the lookout for in the coming months include the Virginia Film Festival, UVA’s Bicentennial celebrations, and the Thanksgiving break.

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The Concert for Charlottesville at Scott Stadium

Travel

Charlottesville seems a world away from anything else, but it’s actually quite accessible to the rest of the country. ­Washington, D.C. is less than three hours by Greyhound (bus) and Amtrak (train), or less than an hour by plane. Unfortunately the UVA Semester Calendar isn’t that travel-friendly with a few small breaks, rather than a longer mid-semester break as in New Zealand, but I’ll see what I can fit in.

Contact Me

I’ve had a great time at UVA so far, although it promises to get busier with midterms and assignments due all at once!

If you have any questions feel free to email me at dgov422 (at symbol) aucklanduni.ac.nz (no spaces), or comment below.

You can also follow me @daryngovender_ on Instagram, or @daryngovenderCD on Twitter (they’re both works in progress!).

Adobe Spark (3)

 

 

 

 

First Impressions: Matt

Hey y’all! So, I have finally arrived and settled into life at UNC and I think know is the time to share my first impressions of the place and the process of getting here.

Pre-departure

Before coming to UNC and the United States, there is a lot you must do. For me, the biggest headache was the Visa. Obtaining the Visa was a long process. It involved plenty of paperwork and applications to fill out as well as fees. UNC does help you along the way and is able to provide you with an I-20 form which is also needed to get the Visa. Once the application is complete, you are required to attend an interview at the US consulate in Auckland but don’t worry about it, the interviewer was friendly and literally only asked me a couple of questions. My biggest advice would be to get on board with the Visa application ASAP! I had to cancel my flights as my Visa would not have come through on time and it was quite costly. Booking flights early does save plenty of money but only do this if you are certain you will get your Visa before that date.

The Journey

Since I received my Visa late, I pretty much booked flights a week before I was required to arrive (not ideal). Last minute flights are expensive so to get a decent deal, I ended up taking four different planes to get to Raleigh. I took two planes from Auckland to LA with a brief stopover in Tahiti. After landing in LA, I had to take a shuttle to another Airport in neighbouring Orange County where I would catch an overnight flight to New Jersey. Once in New Jersey, I would catch my final flight to Raleigh, North Carolina.

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See ya later NZ!

After a solid 30 hours of flying, I arrived at a hot and humid North Carolina day. I was picked up by a very helpful UNC student who used her time to help me get to the campus and essentially settle in. UNC has an organisation called EASE which helps ease us exchange students into life at UNC. One of the things they do is organise airport pickups which save us the hassle of organising transport to the campus from the airport. I found this extremely helpful. EASE also hosts many social events and is a great way to meet both American and other exchange students.

UNC

From the moment I arrived, I fell in love with the place. The University is supposedly the very first public University to open in the USA. It was founded in 1789 and has many old buildings with lots of character. The iconic feature is the old well where it is tradition to drink out of it on the first day of class to receive a 4.0 GPA.

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The Old Well

UNC also has plenty of green spaces. There are so many areas on campus where you could take a nap outside and enjoy the sunshine (unless you’re prone to burning like myself).

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The Main Quad

The campus also has plenty of sports facilities. The University is mad when it comes to sports (especially basketball). They are known as the UNC Tar Heels, named after North Carolina troops who would put tar on the soles of their shoes. UNC is very successful when it comes to sports and has national championships in Lacrosse, Soccer, and Basketball. It wasn’t until I had visited the football stadium that I realised just how mad Americans are when it comes to sports. The stadium holds just over 60,000 people, which I have learned is quite an average size by American standards.

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Kenan Stadium

Chapel Hill

The town of Chapel Hill is a great place to be a student. Franklin Street is the main hub of activity with its abundance of good food and places to drink. There is also a Target Supermarket which has everything you need. It is a chill place and is literally right next door to the UNC campus!

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Franklin Street

The other thing I noticed was that Chapel Hill has a lot of trees. Coming from someone from New Zealand, this was probably the very first thing I noticed upon arriving here.

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Trees, trees and more trees

The campus is beautiful, the weather is great and the people are very friendly. There is a reason Chapel Hill is known as “The Southern Part of Heaven.”

Frat Parties

I was invited to my first frat party literally on my first day, and it did not disappoint. Being the weekend before class, the parties were packed and the nightlife was buzzing. There were red cups, beer pong and even a mechanical bull in the garden. I don’t want to say it’s like the movies but it was certainly close. Even if you’re not particularly big on parties, I highly encourage you to at least check it out. Frats play a huge role in the social life of American universities since most undergraduates are too young to go into bars and clubs. Also, it’s a really good way to meet people. Americans will show a huge interest in you if you have a foreign accent and if you’re open, you will have no problem making new friends.

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One of the many Frat houses at UNC

FallFest

Prior to the first week of class, UNC hosts an event called FallFest. Pretty much, it’s like the club’s expo on steroids. It was held on one of the sports fields and had a countless number of tents, stall, and clubs encouraging us to join. More importantly, there was free stuff to gain. I snagged a free bag, t-shirt and completely stuffed myself with good food. FallFest was a great showcase of what life at UNC is like.

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FallFest!

Orientation

Following the weekend, all exchange students had to attend a mandatory orientation. The orientation ran through most of the day and comprised of informative speeches on UNC life and instructions on what we had to do regarding accommodation, meal plans, banking, visa, and health insurance. The day was broken up by a lunch break and even a solar eclipse. There was also an ice cream social following the orientation giving me a great opportunity to meet fellow exchange students and future travel buddies. This is an extremely important event to attend because as great as it is to be friends with Americans, exchange students will want to travel and do more things. The orientation will be the only time where all exchange students are packed in the same building so make sure you meet as many as possible!

Wrapping Up

UNC has been great so far and I am very glad that I’ve picked it. Getting to where I am now was a long and tricky process, but trust me, it will all be worth it! I am incredibly excited to see what will be in store for me in the future. I hope you guys enjoyed this post and took my advice on board. If you ever need more information or if you just want to ask me questions, feel free to comment on this post or email me at mrow430@aucklanduni.ac.nz.

If you want to see what I’m getting up to, then chuck us a follow on Instagram @matthew.rowe

Cheers,
Adobe Spark (12)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USA: Out West

University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study overseas at over 125 partner universities in over 25 countries. One of the most popular destinations to study abroad is the United States. Our American partner universities are all diverse and renowned institutions, providing students with equally as diverse cultural experiences and academic opportunities. In this post (the final of three), we hear from past exchange students who have studied in the Western regions of the United States as part of the Auckland Abroad program. Our partner universities in the West are The University of Texas at Arlington, The University of Arizona, The University of Washington, The University of California (9 campuses) and The University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“While America isn’t the cultural opposite of New Zealand like some other exchange programs, culture shock still hit me. From the super-sized food, to realizing Greek life isn’t just in movies and perhaps even that America might just be the greatest country in the world, at least for the college experience anyway.” – Josh Barkle, Rutgers University

The University of Hawaii at Manoa
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“Complimentary to the picturesque views and unreal settings visitors achieve on their instagrams, I would encourage observing the local ways, Hawaii has a huge culture of giving. Speak to any Aunty or Uncle on the street and they will be sure to talk story and share their views. The experience allowed me an insight to culture, values, landscapes, and attitudes of not only the Native Hawaiians, or kānaka maoli, but also with the rest of the world.” – Darryl Chin, University of Hawaii at Manoa

“Looking back, the highlight of my exchange would developing more of an adventurous spirit. From going on 4 hour hikes up Hawaii’s tallest mountain at 2:30am just to witness the sunrise and see the entire island to vertical vine climbing bare footed up mountains to get to secret waterfalls to just catching a random bus anywhere and exploring, I learnt that there is so much to see when you’re willing to get out and find it. During my time in Hawaii I also developed a stronger appreciation for nature and its beauty.” – Serene Timoteo, University of Hawaii at Manoa

The University of Arizona
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“The University of Arizona is situated in the metropolitan area of Tucson, a city baking under the desert heat and located less than 100km from the United State-Mexico border. The city might not win any ‘most beautiful city’ award, however the surrounding mountain ranges – serving as the city’s backdrop – are the reason I fell for this desert city. Waking up every day and seeing the Santa Catalina Mountains from our room always brighten my morning and on my last day in Tucson the mountain bid me farewell with its first snowy cap of the season. The question then is why I choose the University of Arizona from all the other institution on offer. Apart from its amazing sunny weather, which is a real change from Auckland, the university also offers consistently high ranked Geology and Anthropology department. During my short time in Arizona, I have shook hands with a researcher involved in the Mars Rover Project, been taught by professors who had worked at the African Rift Valley and the Himalayas. I’ve also been tutored by an academic regarded high on his field, as well as shared a laugh with someone who had gone to host a BCC documentary.” – Alexis Salting, The University of Arizona

“The campus at University of Arizona is absolutely beautiful and there is a strong sense of community around the place which I really liked.  The university system was quite different to Auckland, as there were smaller, more constant loads of work and teachers were much more interested in getting to know their students personally.  It was hard to get used to at first but I actually came to prefer it.” – Katie Arnold, The University of Arizona

The University of Washington
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“UW is located in the ‘University District’, and the many restaurants and sports bars that line the streets make it a student friendly town that is constantly full of excitement and buzz particularly on Friday nights and during the NFL seasons when the Seattle Seahawks play. UW’s FIUTS (The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students) organized many programs and events,  anging from orientation with tours of the enormous campus to trips over weekends and breaks, which made settling in and getting involved on campus easy. These events gave me the chance to meet my fellow exchange students, and it was with some of them that I explored the city and travelled together. From eating Pho on “the Ave” after classes to exploring surrounding neighbourhoods and travelling to other States, we have proved that it is possible to create meaningful connections with people from all over the world.” – Jane Khoo, The University of Washington

“UW offers a huge amount of academic support to assist you with your studies – the subject librarians and TA’s made my life a lot easier! UW also has subject specific writing centres, in which tutors will help by working one-on-one on your paper with you. UW also offers lots of service learning opportunities, in which students can take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it to real life situations and organizations. I volunteered in several elementary schools, an environmental organization and a non-profit. These service learning activities gave me a way of engaging with the wider Seattle community and I would thoroughly recommend them. UW has hundred of clubs- everything from yoga to touch rugby, running, rock climbing, human rights, young Democrats/Republicans, sorority/frats, science, arts… the list goes on. Seattle is surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty- you are close to the Cascades and the Olympics—on a sunny day you will be able to see amazing Mount Rainier. Don’t believe the hype – the rain truly isn’t that bad!!” – Sophia Rive, University of Washington

The University of Texas at Arlington
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“Everything was big, really big, and bold. Texans are so warm, welcoming and so proud of their state and country, meaning they are very happy to share it with you. We’d often go out two-stepping (dancing) with friends at Billy Bob’s, the world’s largest Honky Tonk located in the Stock Yards in Fort Worth. Most nights there was a live country band playing. The place would be packed with people of all ages wearing cowboy boots, hats, rhinestone bootleg jeans and pretty white dresses, and a disco ball style saddle would rotate over the dance floor. You’d feel like you were in a different world. The food was incredible – the Tex-Mex was the best. My friends quickly learnt that I was always in the mood for tacos, so wherever we went, we were trying out the new Mexican and Artisan taco joints. My classes on campus were great. The teaching style was very interactive and the lecturers were much more personable which I appreciated. I took freshman US history and politics classes which helped me to understand the country on a much deeper level.” – Nicola Milne, The University of Texas at Arlington

“It was only once I arrived in Arlington that I was made aware of the fact that the city is the largest city in the USA with no public transport what-so-ever – a fact that they are strangely proud of. So I would encourage any students thinking about going to Arlington to make friends with people with cars quickly, or discover the wonder of 24/7 delivery Chinese food! Having a foreign accent was an easy way to quickly make friends, but living in an on-campus apartment with 3 other roommates definitely helped to make friends for life. The apartment also cost about half of what you would expect to pay for a four-bedroom apartment in Auckland. The cost of food was similar, although for non-processed, no preservatives, organic food… or just food that isn’t junk food, it got a bit more pricey. Texans I discovered are extremely patriotic about their state; treat football as a religion and their colleges like a cult; claim to have the best Mexican food (which they probably do); and also love their air conditioning – so much so that I had to bring a sweater to each lecture theater in the middle of their 40°C summer.” – Kelsey Muir, The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of California
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University of Auckland students can be placed at any of the University of California’s nine campuses throughout the state. These campuses are Irvine, Merced, Riverside, Davis, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego and Berkeley.
Here are some thoughts from students on a few of those campuses!

“San Diego is an amazing place to live. While on some days it’s hot and humid, it is sunny with clear on most days and during my entire trip, it only rained twice (and according to the locals, even that was odd). On campus, there was always something to do. Whether it’s surfing at the beach, smores by the bonfire, hiking, pool movie nights, or carving pumpkins on Halloween. But one of the most memorable things I did was attending a hackathon called SD Hacks where I met 3 other students, formed a team and worked on creating an innovative mobile app for 36 hours straight with 1000 other students at a convention center. On weekends during the semester, we were full-time students busy attending lectures from leading professors in their field, finishing assignment and group projects but when it came to weekends, we were tourists busy exploring cities and making memorable experiences.” – Hayden Do, The University of California at San Diego

“UCSB has a beautiful campus right on the Pacific Ocean. Bicycle and skateboard lanes dictate the flow of students around the campus, and the small community is stuck in an eternal summer. Extracurricular clubs make it easy to meet new people and to get out of the town in the weekends. As students we were able to access a shed stocked with all camping and outdoors equipment to gear up for weekends away. My favourite parts of my exchange while attending UCSB came through this well-kept secret. The nicest parts of California are definitely not the big cities, but the ‘spaces between’. The resources at UCSB allowed students to get to the spaces between. The shorter UCSB quarter was not synonymous with my classes being easier. The education system at Santa Barbara was very different than in New Zealand – attendance is very strongly incentivized, homework is due weekly, and there is no real opportunity to slack throughout the entire quarter. This system took a long time to get used to, but now that I reflect on my time abroad I would say that I prefer this approach” – Brett Sceats, The University of California at Santa Barbara

“The campus is stunning, with beautiful gardens and mature trees throughout the neo-classical architecture. The caliber of teaching at the University was exceptional. Professors were world leaders in their fields, some with Nobel Prizes to their name. Professors were enthusiastic in teaching their chosen field, bringing to life even the driest of civil engineering technical detail. Every class had a student graduate instructor who provided extremely valuable feedback and tips for homework assignments and test. The semester in Berkeley was 15 straight weeks with no holidays in between, so I endeavored to travel most weekends. I covered most of California via road trips with American and exchange student friends and was very fortunate to stay with many American families. These opportunities really provided me with an insight into Californian culture and enabled me to see America from a less tourist like perspective. When I wasn’t travelling in the weekends, I was busy windsurfing with the Cal Sailing Club and exploring San Francisco City.” – David Mountfort, The University of California Berkeley

“I was able to quickly make new friends through international orientation, church fellowship and other clubs and activities. UC Davis is a really beautiful school. The campus is gigantic and filled with grass to sit on and trees to rest under. It has very impressive facilities, from its football stadium to its performing arts theatre. One of the nicest places to go was the arboretum, a riverside walkway filled with all kinds of plants and trees. The food there was pretty good too. Everything you’ve heard about American food is true; it’s cheaper and bigger. There are also an unhealthy amount of all you can eat and buffets. So while I was there, I was pretty much stuffing myself. Thankfully, there were also many opportunities to do physical activities. Unlike the University of Auckland, most students at UC Davis live quite close to campus. As a result, it was much easier for people to gather together and organize a time to play a game or sport over there than it is over here. Consequently, I was able to try many new sports and activities, such as volleyball, spikeball and swing dancing.” – Karl Zhu, The University of California Davis