Gingerbread Wonderland

Wow!  Is it just me, or did Thanksgiving Break seem to fly by?  One minute I was unpacking my bag at home, the next, I was back in my dorm room with no homework done and a load of clean laundry to put away.  I was thankful for the time the break allowed me to spend with family and friends, so I definitely made the most of my days off, and did not even think about the final papers and exams that comprise the last weeks of the semester.  Instead, I went out for dinner, did a lot of seasonal baking at home, saw Harry Potter again (even better the second time), and went to the Grove Park Inn twice to see the gingerbread houses. 

The entries this year were awesome!  I saw them on Wednesday night with some old high school friends and on Thursday morning with my family (a holiday tradition).  The houses will be on display (free of charge) until January 2, so if you haven't been able to see them yet, go!  For those of you who cannot visit, or live too far away to do so, below are some pictures of my favorite entries from this year.   

In addition to the gingerbread house competition, the Grove Park Inn is also known around this time of year for its display of lavishly decorated Christmas trees.  On each wing of the main floor of the hotel are a series of evergreens with elaborate and often whimsical decorations that are so much fun to admire.  This year, there was a peacock-themed tree (topped with a fake peacock!) and quite possibly a flamingo-themed tree (decorated generously with pink feathers).  Here are a few pictures of the trees and the GPI to give you a better idea of what it's like here.

Enjoying the last of the nice days of the break on the porch of the GPI; my brother and I (right and center, respectively) both attend UNCA.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

You might not be able to tell just from looking at the students on campus today, but Thanksgiving Break is just around the corner.  Everyone is working hard to turn in papers or complete group projects, individual presentations, quizzes, and tests.  The mood here is exciting, if not a little frantic, as we scramble to finish our work before we leave this afternoon.  Our normally animated campus will fall silent for the next few days as students and faculty take a break from the hustle and bustle of campus life to spend time with friends and family. 

If you're planning to relax in the Asheville area over Thanksgiving Break, get ready for some chilly, if not rainy, days.


Because I live in here in Asheville, and will be staying in town for Thanksgiving, I will be one of those stranded inside on Friday if the forecasted rain comes. 

Fortunately, there is plenty to do at home and in Asheville this time of year.  One of my favorite local winter events is the Grove Park Inn’s annual National Gingerbread Competition.  As its title implies, the competition invites contestants from across the country to create a gingerbread house and send it to the Grove Park Inn, a historic resort, for judgment.  The top entries are featured on Good Morning America, and of course, cash prizes are awarded.  Both amateurs and well-seasoned gingerbread experts submit their creations every year, so viewing the submissions is lots of fun and is always exciting.  If you’ve never been before, I would strongly recommend a visit to the Grove Park Inn (located less than 10 minutes from campus) to check out the houses on display.  Here are some of the coolest "houses" from last year's competition: 


If the weather behaves on Thursday, we can all be thankful for a fairly nice day (as winter days go), and settle in to our respective dinners (feasts?) with relish.  Does anyone have any fun or interesting Thanksgiving traditions?  Please leave a comment; I would love to hear from you! 

At my house, we often make pretzel salad and pumpkin pie for dessert.  While I love pumpkin pie, pretzel salad is my favorite dessert because it combines sweet and salty flavors.  Essentially, it consists of strawberries, cream cheese, and Jell-o layered on top of a crushed pretzel crust.  Although it sounds strange, the outcome is absolutely scrumptious!  I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.  

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 


 Fun links:
Gingerbread Fun Facts

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International Education Week 2010

Last week was International Education Week, a program sponsored by the US Departments of State and Education, and hosted by UNCA's International Studies Department and Study Abroad Office.  The goal of this annual week of programs, lectures, and activities is to promote international travel and study, and to allow students (and even teachers) to share experiences abroad.  Some of the highlights of this week were talks by our students about their recent trips, the International Photo Contest, and, for me, a presentation by the director the International Studies Department, regarding both the Interdisciplinary and International Studies Major and UNCA's new Asian Studies Minor.  I have recently declared Asian Studies as a minor, and I am so excited to participate (this spring) in the new Chinese program that the International Studies Department has helped bring to our campus.  This development in the courses offered at UNCA will definitely help make us a more competitive campus and will certainly help prepare students to live and work globally.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the International Photo Competition:   
Patagonia Coast

by Tim Meinch
Kiwi Life

by David McKee
Oaxaca Accordion Travelers

by Helen Jett

To see more pictures from the International Photo Contest, click here.

On Friday evening, I was accidentally present for the screening of the documentary, 2  Million Minutes, which was the closing event of International Education Week 2010.  I was eating dinner in "The Grotto" at Highsmith Union when the movie began to play, but I remained  because it was so interesting.  The basic premise of the film is that all students share the same amount of time between finishing 8th grade and entering college; approximately 2 million minutes.  It is how students spend this time that distinguishes them, and prepares them for global competition and even future economic success.  The filmmakers followed six students, two each from the United States, China, and India, and compared the activities in which they engaged and the attitudes each had regarding work and school.  While each student was driven to succeed in his or her chosen field of study, each had different opinions on how free time should be spent, or on how and when it is appropriate to hang out with friends, and what it means to be living in a world that is more interconnected than before.  I would recommend that anyone interested pick up a copy and check it out.  

Other links to check out: 

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Up All Night

Last night, my friends and I went to the 12:01 showing of the latest installment in the Harry Potter movie series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One.  What a night!  We arrived at the theater at 10:30 in the hopes of reserving prime seats, only to find it packed (the theater opened its doors at 10).  Everywhere we looked, we saw UNCA students participating in costume contests, enjoying Cold Stone's take on Honeydukes (JK Rowling's fictional-and amazing-candy shop), socializing, and even interviewing with our local news broadcasting station, News 13.  Harry Potter fans were everywhere!  Luckily, we managed to find seats together, and spent the remaining few hours mingling, munching on popcorn, and generally reveling in the excitement of the evening.

As for the movie itself, I left the theater satisfied with the adaptation.  Because the producers opted to split the final film into two parts, they were able to spend time on scenes from the book that, had the film been of conventional length, might otherwise have been left on the cutting room floor.  Although this film was undeniably the darkest of the series, it was able strike an excellent balance between its more lighthearted moments (imagine seven Harry Potters in the same room at the same time), its scarier scenes (the snake at Bathilda Bagshot's house was terrifying), and its tragic farewells (I was touched by Headwig's death in particular).  The second part of the movie will be released in July 2011.  While I can hardly wait that long, I won't have to look very far to get my Harry Potter fix.

quidzUNCA's Erin Luther has recently started a Quidditch team, appropriately called "UNC Asheville Muggle Quidditch."  Luther and her team are part of a wider collegiate Quidditch movement that includes schools like Boston University and Middlebury College (founders of the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association - and yes, they do hold a Quidditch World Cup annually).  Although our team is not yet large enough to participate in the IQA, it is a great opportunity for Potter fans to interact and build a community of Muggles on campus.  Now, if only we could get those brooms to fly...        

To read more about UNCA's Quidditch program and to refresh your knowledge of the sport, check out these links:


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Hello and welcome to the UNC Asheville Admissions Blog!  My name is Caity and I am a junior here at UNCA.  I will be updating this blog several times a week to give you an idea of what life is like both on campus and within the surrounding Asheville community.  Think of me as your virtual UNC Asheville tour guide.  As a recent transfer to UNCA (January 2010) and an Asheville native, I am excited to share with you the beauty of our vibrant, eclectic community.  My posts will include photos (and hopefully a video or two) to help paint a clear picture of the possibilities of life at UNCA.   Please feel free to read and interact with our blog by commenting on any of the posts or asking questions.  I can’t wait to hear from you! 

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