Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Warning: Tornado Imminent"

September 2011

This week was the turn of the third natural disaster to hit Chapel Hill since I’ve been here. On Tuesday, at 5.30am I got a lovely message from ‘AlertCarolina’ - a system put in place to warn people in the UNC area of impending dangers - telling me there was a tornado warning for the UNC campus. As much as I was glad to know, it probably could have waited until a slightly more sociable time. Thank you very much.

Like most other students, I paid no notice and went to classes as usual. My Spanish class is held in the basement of one of the buildings, and so without signal, no one got the text from AlertCarolina warning of an impending tornado and to take cover. Needless to say, the class carried on whilst the noise in the corridor got louder and louder as other classes were cancelled and students piled down into the basement. Typical that we wouldn’t miss any class. After the class finished we all walked out into the corridor and were like “errr, what?”. As it was, we couldn’t leave the building (what with there being a tornado in the area and that), so we went back into the classroom, and hoped against hope we didn’t have to learn more Spanish….

A few hours later another siren was sounded (these sirens sound EXACTLY like the ones from the Blitz by the way), and being in my room at this point, I really didn’t have a clue what to do. Diving next door I found Dylan sitting at his desk, seemingly very unconcerned about the whole thing, and not bothering to move. I tentatively went back into my room, shut the windows and blinds (just in case) and hovered around the door wondering whether to go down into the basement and look like a dork for being keen, or stay in my room and look like a dick for not carrying out the right action… The indecision! As it was, after 10mins of no wind tunnel appearing in the sky or trees and cows flying around I went back to my desk and cracked on with my work (yeah, work-rare I know!). Hours later the all clear went. And apparently it was for no real reason anyway and the actual tornado was 5 miles away… 

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful, unfortunately. I seem to be settling into a routine a bit more now (boring!) and with no partying happening at all during the week here, nothing really happens in the evening. It’s a definite ‘live for the weekend’ attitude here, which is very different to the Manchester attitude of go out in the week and stay in at the weekends…guess the locals in Manc are a lot worse than the locals here! I was met with amazement on the first week when I was going out every night and still going to classes the next day – it’s not the common thing to do at all here (VERY different to UK attitudes!).

A slightly less mad evenings entertainment at Chipotle

Harriet turned 21 this weekend, and so with no excuse not to, we partied. Hard. All weekend. Win! The Friday was spent working out which bars in Franklin would let us in with a photocopied passport (not wanting to lose the real thing which would be VERY bad), and really laying on the English accent when the bouncers stalled at letting us in. it worked fairly well! There are a few decent places on Franklin, and I’m slowly discovering which ones are worth going to and which really aren’t. There are also a couple of hidden gems away from the bustle of the main street which I always good to stumble upon. Harriet had a party thrown for her at Lexi etc’s house (becomming commonly refered to as Pritch on account of the road it's located on) on the Saturday, and received the obligatory (very American) thing of 21 things to do before the evening is out. There were some absolute gems (well done to Lilly, Emma and the others that came up with these!) such as take a photo with a cop, talk in a Southern accent for 5 minutes and do a lap dance  VERY amusing!). EastEnd was hit too later in the evening, where I discovered what 'daggering' is (a very hardcore sort of dance very similar to dry sex on the middle of the dance floor), and heard this song for the first time. Needless to say it’s grown on me (being about North Carolina of course) and I love it now! John also did a disappearing act and to this day we still don’t know where he got too….. ( I only say that because he's not happy that I don't mention him in my blogs - bless).

The infamous and traditional '21st list'

Being a gentleman. Of course...

In more sober related news, I’ve joined the hockey team here, and on the Sunday I played my first American Field Hockey game. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I’m used to freezing cold weather and rain at home whilst playing, whereas here it was redders hot and very, very sweaty. And I got sun burnt with the helmet face mesh onto my face (for those of you that don’t know I play Keeper). Wasn’t best amused! I’m not the only Brit on the team, the other being Paul, a graduate from Manchester (funnily enough!) who lives in Chapel Hill now, and I was glad of the English company as (again) there were funny little traditions I had no idea about. Firstly, at the beginning of every half sticks are placed in a circle and “Heels” is shouted very loudly, and a little chant is done at the end of the match saying something along the lines of “good game, thanks fans, thanks other team, thanks officials, go heels” (yea, I’ve still not got it!). I felt very British at these moments, because ive never done that before playing at home. It’s always been a “cheers guys, good game, pub?” (obviously 21 being the drinking age here means the pub tradition is not observed here at all. Very disappointing I have to say). Then even more baffling to me was the way in which to thank the other team (on top of the generous chant). We all had to line up in a line and high five each other. Yes, you Brits read right. High five each other. In a line. I mean, huh?!. And it gets worse, because as being the keeper, I was at the front of the line and so went to shake hands (like normal people do!). I got very confused as to why everyone’s hands were in the air. Talk about being the Bloody English Redcoat! On another comparison point, Field Hockey is (vastly) predominately female here, unlike the rough balance there is in the UK. Whereas in Manchester we used to struggle to get enough girls to play (as Campus hockey required a minimum quota for games), here there’s no quota and very few blokes seen on the field. However, its cool being in the hockey team however, as everyone is thoroughly social and nice people to be around. It’s also good to have another circle of friends to (potentially – still early days!) hang out with, and I enjoy playing Hockey. Obviously!

The UNC Field Hockey Team

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