Living the US for 3 months by November had provided a lot of experiences. Therefore, I decided that making the decision to stay out here for the Christmas break would only enhance my experience. I was lucky enough to be able to convince my parents and sister to join me too, and November saw the flights get booked and the holiday be planned. I would then fly to LA to visit my other sister who lives there with her family. I was excited to say the least, especially as this would help me push through the last couple weeks of the semester.
“Finals” are end of term exams that are taken in US colleges instead of the exams taken at UK universities, which occur in January after the holidays. This was therefore a stressful time, and it would culminate in saying a sad goodbye to many of the Australian exchange students, which I had made such good friends with over the previous semester. Special mention to my roommate who I am still missing loads – she flew back to Sydney in January and I had to say goodbye to her. November and December also saw the start of the basketball season, something I had always been particularly excited for at Carolina. Last year UNC narrowly missed becoming national champions in the basketball league. So the end of term saw a period of getting our heads down and studying on the brink of a lot of excitement. A very interesting tradition which occurs at Carolina was witnessed during this time right before finals began when students are looking to let their hair down a little. The night before the first final exam at 12am a group of students who are cooperating run to the 8th floor of one of the libraries and streak down all 8 flights, through the ‘Pit’ (a 2 minute run for them) and onto the other library where they stand in a circle and sing the Carolina alma mater to then run back up to the 8th floor to get their clothes again. This was a surprise to say the least to even hear about but to witness was pretty hilarious. It was very liberating for participants and I felt proud of an acquaintance that participated.
Academics still seemed to be easier but in larger volumes than I had experienced in the UK. This made exam season exhausting but relatively less stressful than I had experienced back in Manchester. The professors seem to think its normal to require final papers to be handed in the week before the final exams and as a result I had about 6 assignments to get on top of in a 7 day period. Not to mention that they also have exams on Saturdays here too!