NC Chapel Hill: Life at an American University

By Emily (North Carolina, USA)

In my other two posts I have covered arriving and first impressions as well as covering work life balance. So what else to talk about?

Perhaps an insight into the day-to-day of our lives here.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday I have the same time table. My ENGL343 American Literature Before 1850 at 10:10, then ENGL356 British and American Fiction since World War II at 12:20. On Tuesday and Thursday my first class is at 14:00 is ENGL230 Milton and my next class is at 3:30 ENGL347 The American Novel. In between I spent my time reading and writing for class.

* I’m putting tips and tricks for UNC specifically at the bottom

There are free gym classes every day which are so easy to go to. I have been to yoga, barre, Pilates, a class solely dedicate to abs and a Zumba class.

A friend joined the field hockey team, while another one auditioned for an a cappella choir whilst another joined a theatre production. There are always people at the Pit with sign up sheets for societies, you just have to go up and ask.

I am currently also a contributor for the Daily Tar Heel. They accept applications every semester and you don’t need any experience, just enthusiasm!



By describing what my friends and I have participated in here, I’m attempting to show that studying abroad is so much more than just the academics.

So for example, if you need to think about your CV, consider joining something here. You would only be committed for a semester and it could be a new experience for you.

With the CV building in mind, as someone interested in literature and media, I applied for the newspaper but also sent a quick email to the Literary and Arts Magazine, Cellar Door, asking if they needed any kind of help. I got a response and have helped produce the latest edition, allowing me to not completely ignore my future whilst I’m here (very easy to do!).

As a side note, I haven’t mentioned home sickness. Obviously everyone experiences it, although to me it felt comparable to starting the first year at Manchester again. Everything is new and different, you just need to find your people and your interests.

Also on a potentially odd note, being in a different country does make home feel very ‘samey’. I have missed it less knowing that everyday in America I feel like I’m learning something new about the culture, or experiencing something different (it sounds clichéd but so true).

At home I know that I would be living in a very similar way to the first semester of second year. I imagine cycling into university everyday and going to the same clubs and bars with the weeks blending into one – seriously can you remember every weekend of last semester?

At UNC I have done something every weekend I’ve been here, making the most of the increasingly reduced time left. I feel like I’m using my time so much better here. At Manchester we would spend hours wasting time watching TV on the weekends but I haven’t given myself the option here.

Here’s a couple of examples of what we’ve done over the weekends:

A weekend exploring thrift shops and coffee shops




Another interesting weekend! A baseball match (not UNC’s best sport, but as a Brit I was still intrigued)


 The best week(end) during Spring Break in Nashville. Seriously who knew how much you could do in a week. We left immediately on the Friday back the next Sunday but it felt like forever. Do make the most of the time you have off!

Wilmington Beach- 2 hours drive from Chapel Hill but so worth it!
Another beautiful day sitting on the grass in from of Wilson library
It’s definitely not available for everyone, but try to get to a sorority/fraternity/society formal– the pictures in front of the Old Well are almost compulsory
The Quad- completely packed on the LDOC, you’ll get there eventually!

Suddenly I can appreciate my time here knowing that I’ll be back in Manchester sooner than I know it.

* UNC specific tips:

  • Pick an accommodation close to the dining halls, I recommend Morrison where I lived because its 2 minutes from the gym and the dining hall, and only a 10 minute walk to class
  • Or if you want to cook for yourself (it’s not always the easiest because of lack of shops) but you should pick Rams 2
  • If you get the 120 meal plan, it works at about 1ish meals-a-day
  • Expect to need to show up to every single class, they will very quickly start docking marks when your attendance drops
  • SO IMPORTANTLY: Talk to your professors, didn’t like your grade? Some professors will let you rewrite assignments (I moved from a B to a B+ with some small editing) or if you need extra credit- just ask them! It doesn’t hurt asking, just be brave because it’s so so different from the English system in this regard
  • Definitely try to pick courses a little outside of your degree, its been a little overwhelming to do four English courses
  • Check before you sign up to courses, the comments are usually very true, my best professors were the ones that scored the highest online!
  • Although it gets really hot in May, be prepared for snow in January -bring thick coats, scarves and weather appropriate shoes!
  • My favourite study spots are the 2nd floor of the student stores by the bookshop and outside on the quad (there’s wi-fi) in the hotter months
  • If you’re on Franklin Street, please please go to the Yoghurt Pump, I discovered it too late to go more than three times, but it has rotating frozen yoghurt flavours week-on-week (my favourites were Strawberry Lemonade and Peach)


My other blogs:

NC Chapel Hill: We’ve arrived!

NC Chapel Hill: Work/Life

NC Chapel Hill: Reverse Culture Shock


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