Monday, July 30, 2012

“It was a life I didn’t want to leave behind. It was a life I didn’t want to forget.”

April 2012 

 (Blog title quote attributed to: Maggie Stiefvater, Linger)

I guess all good things have to come to an end eventually. And with my time at UNC this came around far too quickly. I remember at the beginning of the year I mused at how stretched out in front of me the year looked, at it seemed like a hell of a long time until I returned home. Now I'm feeling that the year has simply disappeared and I have run out of time.

The last few weeks in Chapel Hill have been a blur of end of year festivities, fun, exams and sad farewells. Getting the boring bits out of the way, my finals went well, getting A’s and B’s (even with half completion of one exam – I had already passed the class before I sat the final!). Nothing better than bringing up my non-existent GPA! Finals were yet again full of the bizarre American ritual of partying harder than during the term time, with the Pit Rave being attended my many a fresher and semester long exchange student, alongside the streaking across campus. Being my second time around seeing this attitude during exams, I’ve come to understand it, although I still can’t get my head around it!

It being the last semester for many Seniors (4th years), Seniors week was also laid on for them, with a number of events happening, including climbing the Bell Tower and Bar Golf. I was very keen to exercise my pseudo-senior status and climb the Bell Tower to simply have a nose around up there, and it was a pretty cool experience climbing up the windy stairs to the top. Only to find the view restricted by tiny and pretty filthy windows. Typical… The bar golf was also a good laugh, with many of of the exchanges being out and about too. It was a very different experience to pub golf back home, in that everyone raced around the bars (some starting as early as 6 to complete them all – now that’s a hell of a sense of competition!) and people kept asking what number hold you were on. I was just content to bar hop around and get a little steaming to be honest (which did inevitably happen!). Some of the places such as Carolina Coffee Shop (a bar in the evening) was totally rammed whilst other places such as La Res were empty. Very interesting indeed! The night finished off at He’s Not which was ridiculously busy by 1am with golfers in various degree of fancy dress.  Was a great night indeed!

Up the Bell Tower

Partying as hard as ever...

Desperately holding onto the Redneck-ness!

End of the year also saw the coming around of the annual Old Dirty Bash, which is a afternoon party type event for the community I lived in. With free t-shirts, food and drink I wasn’t gonna turn it down (although my roommate did – loser!) and it was great fun chilling out with the guys from my hall and the RAs I had got to know over the year in the sun listening to live music and eating a whole bunch of bad food.  For free. There was also a mechanical bull, a gladiator style boxing thingy and inflatable horse racing laid on for us mature students. Which I don’t need to say were met with total delight by all. The horse racing was basically inflatable ‘horses’ which you had to bounce to the end of the ‘racetrack’. Facing Addison I thought “sod that” and just picked up the horse and ran to the cry of “cheat!” and laughter at the sheer stupidity of what I was doing. Having said that, wasn’t as bad as Lindsay who fell backwards off her horse. And lasted all of 1 second on the mechanical bull. You do wander what they learn in the South sometimes… By having our own community event, it meant there were loads others in other communities across campus, and so the weekend was spent trailing round a number of them and hanging out under the Carolina blue sky with the glorious sunshine. The end of term also saw the Blue vs White Carolina football game, where incoming freshman signed to the team get to play with the current line up. In time honoured tradition Jessie and I attended the rather low turnout game (with Mary-Ellis, Lindsay and Esra too) to watch a rather boring game (if ones honest). Still, was nice to sit out in the sun and sing some Carolina chants!

Music (obviously)

The nearest to a rodeo I ever got!
Chillin in the Quad
More music
At the game

The end of year also meant the inevitable. Packing up of my room and moving out of Graham 3rd. Luckily, as I wasn’t leaving Chapel Hill till a few days after move out date I was able to get an extension (unlike Fiona, John and Harriet who had to crash at Pritch with a few other extras!), and so could take my time over the gathering of things together. God knows how I managed to fit it all in two bags and a box (which was mailed home). I had collected a serious amount of junk and had to be pretty brutal with chucking stuff out! Very kindly I was able to leave the things I didn’t need to go travelling with in a corner of the Pritch house (which was a mammoth effort to do in its self with everyone else’s stuff everywhere there – god knows how they managed!). Despite my lack of stuff it still felt sad packing up my room and taking all the pictures and cards (people had given me before I left) down off the walls. I had always hated my room for its bareness and prison cell look, but it looked even worse taking it apart! Gunn left the day of his last exam, and I was really bad and avoided the room like the plague that day to not have to say bye to him. I just couldn’t stand it – the sooner he was gone the better (that sounds really harsh, but it will be explained in another blog). However it was truly sad to see the rest of the guys (and girls from Aycock 3rd) leaving. I have had such a blast with the lot of them and if you’re reading this guys, you have been a huge part of my year – thank you so much. Highlights have definitely been the makeshift manikin in Sicking’s bed, cling filming doors and toilets and all the crazy conversations and stupid discussions had in the lounge. I’m gonna miss y’all a lot. The hall was weird once they had all left, leaving myself, Connor and a couple of other residents knocking around. Very quiet in comparison to the usual shenanigans’ that went down over the year!

Goodbyes also had to be made to the internationals, both from the semester and the year. Some of whom I know I will see again, and others I hope so. Again, I was genuinely sad to say bye to everyone – even if I didn’t know them that well they were a part of my year abroad and so part of the whole experience. Pritch had its last house/frat party of the year (I’m very sure it wasn’t the last ever!), filled with Internationals, Americans and tears. To about the same proportions. The unofficial rule was no tears till midnight. But that went to bolocks when Jessie left before midnight and I teared up good and proper. Which then with the amounts of booze flowing set everyone else off. Typical… On a brighter note however, a number of people bought flags for everyone to sign, which was a fantastic idea to remember people. I did it too, and it will hang upon my wall when I return to Manchester as a reminder of the year while I cry in my room for having no social life in 4th year!
(one of) the last nights out on Franklin Street
The last Pritch Frat party
Being sad about leaving
The last few remainers

Looking back on the goodbyes at UNC I am filled with sadness in that the my time there had come to an end, and some of the amazing people I had met there I am unlikely to see again. But then I am also filled with happiness with the memories I had there, the phenomenal people I did meet, many of whom I will see again, and the great highs and some terrible lows I had had over the year (thankfully waaaay more highs than lows!) which has made it such a great experience. To all of Tar Heels reading this (both American and International) thank you for being a part of my year and making it such a great one at UNC.

But with the sadness of leaving UNC comes the excitement of the next great adventure – my travels around the great US of A!

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