Isabella - The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

B. Communications / Arts
Semester 2, 2015

Academic experience

I participated in the UQ abroad program in semester two 2015 where I continued my Bachelor of Communications/Arts Degree. Deciding to go on exchange to University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill was the greatest decision I have made throughout my university studies.

Studying at an American college was a very different academic experience. At home I am used to large lecture halls with hundreds of students sitting in front of projectors. In Chapel Hill a majority of my lectures consisted of around 20 students in a small room. Several of my professors also utilised chalkboards instead of projectors. I found this to be a very refreshing experience, with a back to school feel. With such small classes, you get to socialise with your classmates so well and it allows you to have more one on one time with your professors. Plus UNC’s Media and Journalism school is also in the top 3 Journalism schools in America, which was fantastic for my public relations major. The biggest challenge I experienced in my studies was the difference in the grading scale. In Chapel Hill, they used an A to F grading scale, where 70% was a pass! Compared to UQ where a pass is generally 50%. Another challenge was the constant 'homework' that I would have to do every night, which would count for a considerable amount of my grade. Although it took some time to adjust this system once I was familiar I did prefer this style of learning compared to UQ.

Personal experience

From my first day in Chapel Hill I knew I was in for an incredible experience. North Carolina is one of the most beautiful states in the country, and the small college town of Chapel Hill was no exception! The campus of UNC was very similar to a stereotypical American college movie, the red brick buildings with huge white pillars were something to be marvelled at. Living in the South was also a completely different experience to anything from Australia; the phrase ‘Southern Hospitality’ is not something to be taken lightly! Everyone in the South is so warm and welcoming that it would be hard not to fall in love with the place. Although Chapel Hill is a small college town and most of the people who live there are college students. The Carolina school pride and spirit throughout the entire town was insane. It is not just a school, it is a way of life. Our school colours of white and sky blue (Carolina Blue) are one of the most important things about Chapel Hill life; everyone is always wearing Carolina blue, for we are forever proud of our ‘Tar Heel’ heritage. Being a Tar Heel is another huge part of life at UNC, we call ourselves Tar Heels because of our world-famous college basketball team. The UNC Tar Heels are currently ranked the number one college basketball school in the country; not to mention Michael Jordan went to our school! Being able to experience college basketball, football and soccer games were one of the highlights. Thousands of students and locals from all around Chapel Hill fill the Dean Dome, creating a sea of Carolina Blue that goes absolutely wild cheering for their Tar Heels.

UNC Homecoming
UNC Homecoming!



The Greek life at UNC was also something to admire, beautiful Fraternity and Sorority houses can be spotted all over the town and everywhere you go students are representing their Greek letters on all forms of clothing. Being an Australian in America is an experience that cannot be explained. You are an instant celebrity and by saying a simple g'day you can make a locals day. They are so intrigued to meet you and the endless questions about kangaroos and the wildlife are hilarious.

Accommodation

I lived in Old East, which is the oldest building at UNC, and therefore is the oldest building in public schools America. Old East is a Hall style building in North Campus, which is a fantastic place to be! North Campus is right next to Franklin Street, which is the main street in Chapel Hill. Franklin street is so amazing, with plenty of shops and bars, it is the place to be in Chapel Hill (especially on Halloween!). Living in Old East I had two American roommates who were one of the best parts of my exchange. These two girls were my lifeline and best friends at school, and still continue to be now that I am home. I made friends for life from all over the world and I will never forget the amazing times we had.

Professional development and employability

As well as the college lifestyle, I got to experience my first real taste of travel throughout the USA. During the semester I saw a large proportion of the country. The places I saw and the people I met were outstanding and I cannot wait to continue my travels of America in the future.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange was the university itself. The University of North Carolina was the most amazing place I have ever been too; the friends I made, and the places I saw would have been nothing without having such a beautiful home to come back too. I miss UNC every day! Go Heels!

Top tips

The main tips I would suggest for other students would be to talk to people who have been before! I cannot stress enough how helpful it was to be able to talk to other UQ students that went to my host university for advice, and the many questions I had. Don't be worried about bothering people because everyone loves to talk about their exchange experience and just want you to have as much fun as they did!

 

Isabella - The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill