The 411 on Housing

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from the housing director reminding us that room sign-up for the 2011-2012 school year is coming up, and I thought it would be a good idea to share some information about living on campus with the readers of this blog!
First of all, you may be wondering what the housing rates are for the upcoming year. 
For double rooms, the price is $2,080/semester + the mandatory meal plan, which is $1,571/semester.
For single rooms, the rice is a little higher at $2,835/semester + the meal plan’s $1,571/semester. 

Now, here is the way that UNC Asheville handles sign-up and assignments for on-campus housing.  Although we are building a new residence hall on campus, and renovating another, there are still a limited number of spots for those students who wish to live on campus, housing it operates on a first-come, first served basis as follows:

On March 17, students will participate in “Squatter Day,” wherein they can reserve the room in which they are currently living for the next school year.  This guarantees those who want to remain on campus that, at the very least, they will have a spot, even it if is not necessarily their top choice.    

The next day, March 18, is “Same Building Day,” which allows students to move from one room to another room within that residence hall.  This also gives priority to those who arrive first.

On March 21, those students who wish to live in a different residence halls participate in “Somewhere on Campus Day,” which is the most competitive day; students arrive several hours ahead of the posted reservation time to ensure that they are able to live in the residence hall of their choice.

Finally, “I Forgot to Sign Up Day” allows students who did not remember to sign up for housing to make a reservation, provided that spaces exist.  This takes place on Tuesday, March 22nd.

As we draw closer to the beginning of housing registration, I will share information (and lots of pictures!) about the residence halls we have on campus to let you see just where students can live, and what to expect when you come to UNC Asheville.

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International Lunch

Although UNC Asheville is a small school and does not therefore host as many international students as other UNC schools do, the international community here is amazing!  And, because our school is fairly small, it is really easy to get to know all sorts of people, including international students.  Yesterday, for example, I was invited to have lunch with a group of Korean and Hmong students that I've gotten to know this semester.  Everyone joined to make traditional Korean and Vietnamese dishes, and we all had a lot of fun.  Although I was really only able to make myself useful by peeling potatoes and washing dishes, I had blast, and I am so happy that I was able to spend my afternoon with such a nice group of people.  Here are some pictures of the feast we prepared!  (Note the 'American' dessert among the spread; one of the best apple pies I have ever tasted, no exaggeration)

Everyone after the meal--what a great group of friends!

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Highsmith Union Food Court

Today, I had lunch at one of the three dining spots on campus, Highsmith Union's food court.  Many students enjoy eating at the food court because it offers a quick and convenient alternative to a seated meal at the cafeteria.  The Highsmith food court offers students the option to choose from several food stations, sandwich and salad alternatives, and frozen and dry goods (for now, or for later).  Among the food stations (which offer mainly fast food options) are Coyote Jack’s (offering hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries, etc), Panini Fresca & Trattoria (serving ‘pizza, calzones, spaghetti, etc), and Salsarita’s (offering tacos, burritos, nachos, etc).  For those inclined to enjoy a more healthy lunch, there are a variety of soup, salad, and sandwich options.  In addition to all of these choices, the Highsmith offers a sort of “grocery stores” for students.  There are several freezers full of frozen goods; and a variety of cereals, granola bars, and various other snacks that students can purchase for later. 
Something that I really appreciate about the Highsmith food court is that their “brand” of takeout sandwiches and salads, “Outtakes to Go,” is always trying new things.  For example, last semester, I tried a shrimp salad croissant full of ingredients that I would never have put together.  They offer a number of inventive puddings and whimsical snacks.  Yesterday, my roommate brought back a little container of celery, raisins, and peanut butter-perfect for creating ants on a log, a classic childhood treat.  Students can pay for this food with our “Munch Money,” or part of the meal plan that basically puts “cash” on our student cards to be used to pay for items from Highsmith food court, Ramsey Café, and even meals in the dining hall. 
Basically, it is impossible not to find something that you like at Highsmith.  Check out these pictures for illustrations of what this dining space has to offer!  

At the Highsmith food court, students can dine in a large, open room, while gazing at one of the largest recreation of Raphael's School of Athens in the world.  It's a perfect blend of academics and fun! 

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Homecoming 2011

Ok, so here is another benefit of going to a small university: it’s easy to hear about and sign up for events such as homecoming.  For the past week, there have been flyers, posters, and table tents all over campus advertising Homecoming 2011.  Events will start Wednesday the 23rd with “Homecoming Bingo” and have been unfolding throughout the week, highlighted by such activities as float making and a screening of “Uneven Fairways” (a documentary written by alumnus Pete McDaniel).  On Friday, UNC Asheville will hold the traditional Homecoming parade, a hall of fame dinner, and a show by comedian Prashanth Venkat.  Homecoming weekend will conclude on Sunday with a tailgate, a men’s basketball game against Radford University, and a step show, among others. 
The theme for this year’s Homecoming is “A Celebration of Justice.”  This theme is particularly important because next year, the new health and wellness center (North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness) will be completed.  The UNC Asheville vs. Radford University game will be the last regular-season home basketball game held at the UNC Asheville Justice Athletic Center in favor of the new Health and Wellness Center (which is slated to open in April of this year).  Celebrating the Justice Athletic Center with present and former students, and the Asheville community at will be a great way to honor a special part of UNC Asheville history.  All Homecoming events have been free to students and alumni, and there is only a small charge for members of the greater Asheville community, so if you are in Asheville, come celebrate Homecoming 2011 with the Bulldogs! 
Interested in more information? Check out the Homecoming 2011 website.

Also check out the North Carolina Health and Wellness Center website to see what the newest addition to our health facilities will look like and the Justice Athletic Center to see what our facilities already look like! 

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Will You Be My Valentine?

A very Happy Valentine's Day to everyone reading our blog!  I hope that this day, commercial though it may be, has brought you the happiness, chocolate, and joy that you deserve.  How is UNC Asheville celebrating this special day?  There have been various activities in the past few days, but probably the biggest event, or should I say series of events, is "Lovefest," hosted by the Student Government Association.  Lovefest lasts through Thursday; every day, students can attend a number of events related to the topic of love.  Some highlights include "Friend Speed Dating" on Wednesday and "The Marriage Booth" on Thursday; there is something for everyone thanks to SGA!  Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

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Lake Louise

Sometimes, it's nice to step outside of downtown Asheville and into the beautiful scenery that surrounds our city.  On Friday afternoon, I went home and visited one of the prettiest spots in Weaverville, Lake Louise.  Even though it’s the middle of the winter and there isn’t a lot of foliage here, I still enjoy visiting the lake.  There are always a lot people here doing a variety of activities: having birthday parties, playing on the playground, exercising, feeding the ducks, and generally just enjoying themselves.  It’s a great environment and definitely a lot of fun.  Here is a short video I made after Friday’s visit.  Enjoy!

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Concerts in Asheville

One of the many appeals of Asheville is that there are abundant opportunities to enjoy live music here.  Known for being an artistically diverse and embracing city, Asheville has hosted musicians from Bob Dylan to Arcade Fire, so no matter what your taste in music, you can be certain to find a show.  Last June, for example, my brother attended a Wiz Khalifa performance, and last night, he went to a Dr. Dog concert.  UNC Asheville students love to take advantage of Asheville’s music scene; many of my classmates and friends have told me that this was one of the attractions of our school when they were choosing colleges.  Below, I have listed several (of our many) local venues to give you an idea of the kinds of places you can go to catch a live show when you're in town.
1.        The Orange Peel

2.       Asheville Civic Center
3.       The Grey Eagle

5.  Jack of the Wood Pub

6.       Diana Wortham Theatre

If you are considering UNC Asheville for college, or even if you're just visiting a friend here, I strongly recommend taking advantage of all the musical opportunities Asheville has to offer.  You won't be disappointed!   

(Above: Ladytron's awesome performance at the Orange Peel last year)

Visit the the links below to check out upcoming shows!

Jack of the Wood
The Orange Peel
Diana Wortham Theatre
The Civic Center
The Grey Eagle

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When Zombies Attack

According to author Max Brooks, it's only a matter of time before we find ourselves face to face with a major zombie attack.  And while his books can be found in the humor section of your local bookstore, his work should not be taken lightly.  Best known for World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, Brooks is indeed a zombie expert.  He came to UNC Asheville tonight to share with the community what he knows about zombies and ways that we can prepare to face them when they inevitably attack.

An engaging speaker with a witty, sarcastic, and somewhat morbid sense of humor, Brooks shared with us some of the following points regarding zombie invasions:

1.    Don’t fool around when it comes to weapons.  Guns are impractical because how many bullets can you realistically carry with you?  Go back to the basics:  buy your weapons from the nearest hardware store. 
2.    Guns need bullets and cars need gas, and eventually, you will run out of gas.  And even if you have a hybrid, that car will only get you twice as far before you empty your tank.  So, unless you can find a car powered by fear, you need a bike.  Bikes are easy to maneuver, require no fuel, and are reliable modes of transport perfect for any zombie attack.
3.    You need a plan.  Decide well in advance of a zombie invasion where you will go to escape them and whom you will take with you.  You will want to go somewhere far from major cities, somewhere where no one wants to go, somewhere where the climate is inhospitable.
4.    Make sure you choose carefully the people with which you will live in this wilderness.  You need people with whom you can easily get along, and people with different skill sets to ensure maximum odds of survival as a group. 
5.    Zombies can come from anywhere.  They will find you.  Be wary.  Watch the news and make sure you know what is happening globally.  If you hear of anything suspicious, brace yourselves for the possibility of an imminent attack. 

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February Sunset

 This afternoon, the sky was gray and overcast, but when I came home from work this evening, I noticed that it had cleared and was looking quite lovely.  I wanted to share this sight with those of you who are following our blog, so I literally ran back to my room to grab my camera.  By the time I got back outside, the sun had sunk below the tree line, but the sky was still streaked with vibrant pinks, oranges, and purples. 

I was able to take the pictures below before the sun set completely.  The pictures are of the athletic fields surrounding my dorm, Governor's Hall.  As I looked out over campus, seeing the reflection of the sun on the windows of the new fitness center and my dorm, I thought how lucky I am to be able to live in a place as beautiful as Asheville.  At my previous school, the setting sun was not as striking and the views less serene.  I think a large part of  the reason for this is that UNC Asheville is a school that allows itself to live with nature, rather than one that attempts to tame and sculpt the world around it.  Despite the proximity of UNC Asheville to the city center, it is a place where students are able to live peacefully and closely with the world around them. 

In the spring, as the leaves start to grow back and the flowers begin to bloom again, Asheville will become even more beautiful and the sunsets even more spectacular.  Although pictures do no not do the sky I saw this evening nearly enough justice, they can help you imagine what it would be like to be standing where I was, thinking, "Wow.  This is where I get to go to school."  

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