How to Survive Exam Week... and therefore survive anything

Last Sunday evening everyone returned from their refreshing Thanksgiving break, and were prepared to begin exams. Yet the beginning of exams week would not be exciting without some surprises, such as a raccoon causing a campus-wide power outage. Losing power around 6:30pm on Sunday, we did not get it back till around noon the next day.
Although this caused a huge setback, such as cancelling Service Learning presentations, Undergraduate Research Symposium day, and any other campus events. Students persevered and still found ways to complete their papers, trifolds, and presentations. Emergency lights lit parts of campus, and students sought those areas out. Although power had to be conserved on laptops, phones, and other electronic devices, we all managed. After all, we are seriously creative. Yet the creativity did not stop there. 

Once the power came back on, it was clear that exams were upon us. For most students this meant the final push to get that great grade, stay up all night, ace that three hour exam, all while managing stress levels the best they can. 
Thankfully, campus and its faculty does the best it can do to ensure that students allow themselves some study breaks. After all, your brain needs to have some fun. 

Here are the events and their information:
Tuesday, December 3 (Reading Day - no classes, just time for students and their books)
- Therapy Dogs: These dogs came to campus two evenings in a row in the student union, allowing students to pet, hug, and de-stress with them. For all of the students without pets on-campus that miss their furry friends back home, this was a wonderful way to feel like they were home again. There were numerous breeds, from big dogs such as yellow labs, and smaller dogs such as schnauzers. It was obvious that each student gravitated towards certain dogs and stayed there most of the event. For instance I have a border collie at home and was thrilled to see one there.

Wednesday, December 4 (First Day of Exams)
- Exam Breakfast: Every year on the first night of exams, from 8:30pm-10:30pm, the cafeteria opens its doors to the entire student population, allowing them to come for hot breakfast foods, karaoke, and a time to relax. The added twist is that the food is served by faculty members. This means that the same professor who may be giving you an exam in a few days may be first giving you a hot biscuit and some strawberries. Needless to say, the event was packed. The way students line up outside the cafeteria in anticipation is closer in excitement to a concert than a breakfast. My friends and I got there at 7:50pm to wait in line, and by 8:05, the line wrapped around the bend, and past the entrance to the student union building next door. The evening was filled with delicious foods such as pastries, pancakes, fruit, and biscuits. All this food was served with karaoke performed by students. It was a great way to unwind and catch up with friends. 

Thursday, December 5 
- RA Trip to Chocolate Lounge and "Elf" Movie Night: Resident Assistants (RAs) have the power to help students on their hall as much as possible. During exam week it is crucial for RAs to make sure their residents are not having a difficult time. My RA decided to take me, and her other residents on a trip to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge and then host a movie night for "Elf". Who doesn't love chocolate and some holiday cheer with Will Ferrell?

Friday, December 6 
- Rented movie from library for my own movie night with friends: The library is a great place for studying, finding books, or getting a quick snack at the cafe. What a lot of people do not realize though is that you can rent movies, other than documentaries, from the library too! Movie titles available range from the "Iron Man" series to "Monty Python". My friends and I decided on "Silver Linings Playbook". Rentals are for three days. 

*Week Long Events* 
- Highsmith Study Spaces and Study Snacks: Want an area other than the library or your dorm room to study where you will not be bothered? Want late hours with free snacks available? Highsmith, the student union, offered numerous rooms with couches and desks for study spaces during exams. The building was also kept open till 3:30am and various snacks were offered such as coffee, hot chocolate, granola, and cookies. 

Overall, campus came together to make exam week as painless as possible. I am so thankful that I go to a school where these activities are made available and that we also have an exam schedule that is bearable. UNC Asheville is the only public university that only has exams on weekdays. Other universities, such as UNC Chapel Hill, have exams on Saturdays because their campus is so large they need the extra days to fit all the exam times in. 

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Basketball Boys Beat Brevard

Phone, check. 
Ticket, check. 
School spirit, check. 

I glance at the clock and see that it is almost game time, the first game of the basketball season, an exhibition game versus Brevard. I rush to Kimmel Arena to take my place among my peers in the student section of the stands. 

I love basketball season, everyone gathers together under one roof to cheer the loudest they can for our school to claim victory over the visitors. This year though, I love basketball season even more. Last year the players were these far-away students that I didn't know off the court. But then, due to the size of the UNC Asheville campus, I had classes with a few of them and got to know them. UNC Asheville is great because the athletes aren't separated the way they are at some larger schools, they aren't above anyone, you can always talk to them. Now knowing some of the players made attending the game that much more fun because I could now tell them good luck, cheer for them specifically, and tell them great game. 

Basketball isn't complete though without cheerleaders. UNC Asheville's cheer and dance team pumps up the crowd the entire game and dances during the breaks. Once again, last year I didn't know a lot about the cheerleaders, but this year one of my best friends was dancing with them. Talking to her throughout the process of becoming a cheerleader, I gained some more insight into what fuels our school spirit. There were auditions, then after you make it, routine practices to make sure you have the dances and the cheers committed to memory, and then finally game days. They do not travel with the team, so they give their best energy to home games, just like the fans. 

All of this energy and spirit is consuming if you are in the arena, but if you cannot make it, don't worry, you can always watch the game online. My mom watched it online at and was texting me throughout the game, saying what a great job the guys were doing. They were doing a great job! 
Seeing some of the players in class all the time made it hard to remember that they were athletes but then seeing them play... it was obvious. Corey Littlejohn, who I had "Physics of Light and Visual Phenomenon" with last year was playing an amazing game! Shot after shot, they all went in. 
His teammate, and also a previous physics classmate of mine, Jaleel Roberts also had a great game. 
Everyone on the court proved that they had been practicing their hardest in the offseason. 

The final score of the game. 

The first game of the season was over with a win. Later this week the guys will travel to Kentucky, and then later Duke, and many more. Their next home game isn't until December, but the fans will be ready for when they return. 

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Hallo-week Fun: Corn Maze and a Haunted Maze

Maybe it is just Asheville, or maybe it is college students in general.
But there is a deep allure associated with Halloween and its social allowance of children and adults to dress up as anyone they wish to be for an evening, and enjoy a week where every event, including the scary ones, comes with candy.

On the UNC Asheville campus, the week was packed with events - costume contests, free frozen yogurt, pumpkin carvings, a haunted maze, "Scream" movie night, and a corn maze trip. All of these events were free. Campus does a great job of making sure that students are not bored, that there are options of things to do on and off-campus. When an event is offered off-campus, transportation is provided so that students who do not have cars, such as myself, are not excluded.

The first event my friends and I participated in for the week was the Eliada's Home Corn Maze. The trip was free to the first 20 students who signed up. Myself and two friends successfully made the list. It was an evening trip to the maze, which included activities such as corn hole, hayrides, giant slides, and shooting ears of corn at pumpkins in a field! The maze is the largest one in Western North Carolina, and it, and the other events the field hosted, did not disappoint.
Shooting pumpkins with corn

Inside the corn maze

Giant slide fun

A couple of nights later, I volunteered to help with "Haunted Highsmith", a night in which the student union building is filled with Halloween events: pumpkin carvings, novelty photos, wax hands, costume contest, and a haunted maze.
I was assigned to help in the haunted maze. At first I was a bit weary, not knowing what I was going to do. But after meeting my fellow volunteers and taking a tour of the maze, I was excited to scare my peers.
The maze was located in one of the large rooms that hosts events; it was constructed out of support beams, patterned tarps, strobe lights, dolls, and fake blood. As a volunteer, I got to take a tour of the maze with the lights on to learn the hideaway corners where I could stand in my "Scream" costume. The maze was eerie even with the lights on! It had all the stereotypical rooms. But what I didn't expect was a claustrophobic tunnel in which tarps were pressed together and you had to squeeze through.

The event lasted for about 2 hours, and the maze successfully scared over 150 people.
I recognized athletes, classmates, and friends alike. I could see them, but they could not see me, my mask concealing my identity.

Everyone that came out that night had a blast, and I loved seeing the smirks on people's faces when I told them which character I was.

I love Halloween and cannot wait for next year. 

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Interview with My RA: Hallie Banish

I scurry down the stairs of my residence hall, Governor's Hall, to the first floor lounge and kitchen area to interview my RA Hallie Banish.
Even standing outside the door of the lounge, I can smell the cupcakes being baked.
I walk into the kitchen to find Hallie teaching a resident how to bake cupcakes from a box but add homemade touches so as to save time as a college student, but still pour love into the batter like any great baker. The cupcakes of choice for the day were vanilla with a cookie dough base and kit-kat candy bar stuffed in another. No recipes from Pinterest, solely creativity.

Hallie sits down with me to answer some of my questions while watching over her shoulder to monitor the cupcakes.

1. Tell me a little about yourself. What year are you, what's your major, where are you from, and do you have any siblings or experience that prepared you to be responsible for other students?
- Hallie is currently a junior majoring in philosophy with a focus in pre-health. She is from Hickory, NC and has experience being responsible for other individuals because she has taken care of her younger brother her entire life since she was old enough to stay home alone.

2. When did you become interested in being a residential assistant, also known as an RA? How?
- Like most incoming freshmen students, Hallie had a rough transition period where it was hard being away from home along with all the new experiences and responsibilities that accompany being a first-year college student. Luckily her RA, Daniel Bradley, was amazing at his job and really helped Hallie adapt, allowing her to become better acclimated to the college settings. Daniel and her had a lot in common, allowing them to become friends over shared interests such as skiing. During that year as a freshman, Hallie thought that if she could be helpful and kind to someone like Daniel had been to her, it would be amazing. There are so many people who need help in different areas, maybe it's schoolwork or perhaps it is that initial transition period.
After first semester of her freshman year, Hallie was hired as a programming assistant and fell in love with the work.

3. After hearing your comments about Daniel, how would you define a good RA?
- Being a great RA isn't about hosting the most events and being extravagant. Instead, a great RA is about making your residents comfortable, for them to know that they can come to you for help or anything, whether it is a social question or a roommate conflict. Creating an open and safe space is crucial for open communication between an RA and their residents.

4. Explain a bit about how to become an RA. 
- In mid-spring semester there are a bunch of emails and ads out on campus about becoming a residential assistant. To begin the process in becoming an RA, you must attend the interest meeting that is held. From there, you then sign up, turn in an application, have an individual interview, and also a group interview on a separate day. This is all about a 3 week process. Before the end of the year, you are notified if you have been chosen. Training is 2 weeks in the fall, and then 1 week in the winter.

5. Do RAs choose the residence hall they live in?
- When chosen as an RA, you put down a preference of a residence hall, but then you have to explain why you think you would be a good "fit" for that residence hall. Similar to how the school pairs roommates based on personality, they also try to put RAs into residence halls in which they would thrive. For instance, an RA who is outgoing, social, and perhaps is more comfortable interacting with athletes will be placed in Mills residence hall due to the more social layout of the residence hall. On the other hand, an extroverted RA may prefer movie nights and social events within the residence hall may be placed in either South or West Ridge due to their quiet and secluded style.

6. Over your years working as an RA, which has been your favorite? Which your least favorite?
- Every year has their own pros and cons, they are all very different. 
As a freshman and a sophomore, Hallie worked in South Ridge, which is one of the quiet residence halls that hosts mainly freshmen. She enjoyed this hall because it is heavily based on community due to their multiple study lounges and common rooms.
Now, as a junior, Hallie works in Governor's Hall which is an upperclassman residence hall. Due to it being an upperclassman dorm, it is not as community based and does not have as many common areas. What drew Hallie to this residence hall was the notion that a lot of upperclassmen are left to be by themselves since they are no longer new and sometimes confused freshmen. Therefore this year Hallie wanted to try and account for those residents.

7. Every week you invite your hall's residents to join you for "Theatre Thursdays" in your room, where you bake us cupcakes and have a movie to watch. 
You also plan events outside of this weekly one, this is more than most RAs do... Why do you make so many ambitious plans?
- Hallie's simple answer to this is that RAs are friends too. They want their residents to view them as peers, and not solely as an authority figure. Friends have each other over for movie nights and bake cupcakes.

8. How did these ideas come to you?
- At the beginning of the year, Hallie had all her residents fill out a survey sheet to gauge their interests such as hikes, movie nights, or creating artwork. These answers are what have fueled her events so far. For instance the haunted hike she planned (see Haunted Trail Trip with My RA blog post) was for the outdoorsy people. Weekly movie night is for the ones that wanted to watch movies. Lastly, she converted the columns in the residence hall into chalkboards, which the residents can draw on, for the art lovers. Hallie tries to make sure that there is something for everyone, and that no one is left out.

9. Any other comments you feel people should know about you, or RAs in general? 
Such as, is it worth all the training and time commitment? 
- Being an RA is hard sometimes because you become friends with the residents and then they mess up and you still have to deal with them in a professional manner.
Despite this setback, Hallie still slaps her knee and proclaims "TOTALLY WORTH IT!"

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Haunted Trail Trip with My RA

Every floor of every residence hall has an RA, which is short for Residential Assistant.
Some large floors, such as ones in Overlook residence hall have two.
RAs are students whose job it is to help their residents with campus questions and maintain their safe living conditions. Rather than acting solely as an authority figure, they are also supposed to be able to be approached as a peer. The most apparent way for RAs to gain peer openness on their halls is by organizing events and hall meetings. 
For instance my hall theme is Candyland, so our first event tied into the idea that if we achieved certain tasks on campus, we would gain points similar to the board game, and ultimately be able to win prizes. 

Last night my RA, Hallie Banish, decided to team up with another RA to organize an event that would celebrate the approaching spooky holiday of Halloween. 
The trip consisted of a meal at Cookout and then a haunted hike at Pinhead's Graveyard in the mountains of Asheville. Transportation was provided by the RAs, you only needed to bring your own money for food and the trail - a great deal considering my friends and I do not have cars on campus. 

My friends and I all bundled up tight against the night's brisk air on the mountain trail. Before we prepared to have a good scare, we all enjoyed milkshakes along with other various treats at Cookout. 
Then we all climbed back into the cars for a 20 minute car ride to an area of the mountain where there were no street lights, only winding roads sprinkled with dim lights from houses. 

Then as we turned one bend, we saw the Pinheads sign... the blood red font seemed to drip off the sign that was dimly lit by a light from overhead. Before crossing the gate into the trail, the guys in the group puffed out their chests with fearlessness and tenacity; while the girls, including myself and my RA, huddled together like sheep, trying to find solace in the group mentality, avoiding being stuck on the ends of the group for the unease that comes with being jumped out at by characters of nightmares. 

A little while later, we all made it out unscathed. 
We all agreed that it wasn't as horrifying or bloodcurdling as we thought it would have been, allowing the girls and I some relieved laughter while the guys complained about wanting it to be longer. 

Although the trail itself was not tear-inducing or had us checking behind our backs us as we left, it didn't matter that much. 
What did matter was that my RA along with another one, joined forces to bring my friends and I, along with other residents, a fun Halloween event that allowed us to get off campus and have some laughs! 
The trail didn't need to be that scary for all of us to still have fun hanging out together and getting to know new residents from school in the group. 

We may not remember what ghoulish character jumped out at us first from behind a foggy tree... 
But we will remember how funny it was when the masked man flaunting his chainsaw did not make my friend, Brian, so much as even flinch. 

RA sponsored events such as these are one of the many perks of living on campus, and being able to join a group of peers for a fun night out.

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Tasty Treats Near Campus

When your stomach grumbles 
and the café will not suffice. 
And your sweet tooth beckons 
for something with ice...

Your feet should carry you
up and down the street
to Urban Burrito and the Hop 
for a nice treat. 

There are countless yummy food options within an easy walking distance of campus, such as Luella's BBQ, Circle in the Square Pizzeria, Urban Burrito, the Hop, Rise n' Shine, and Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. 
For all of you fellow vegetarians looking for something with some flavor, do not fear because all of these restaurants, even Luella's BBQ have vegetarian options. BBQ tempeh anyone?

All of these eateries are enticing in their own way, my close friends and I having tried all of them before. Yet some other friends of mine had not tried Urban Burrito or the Hop, so we decided it was a night for new things. 

The walk there always seems rather short when venturing with friends to chat with. 
The food also helps make the walk worth it. 

As I entered Urban Burrito with my friends, I told myself I would try something new... 
Maybe a "Greek" quesadilla that was stuffed with feta cheese and spinach, or a burrito filled with jerk tofu? All of these various options from chicken to tofu, and plain tortillas to jalapeño flavored, is perhaps why the restaurant has the word "urban" in it - because it goes beyond your stereotypical walk-in Mexican restaurant. 

Yet when it came to be my turn to order, I froze and ordered my usual. 
A whole-wheat tortilla filled with black beans, rice, cheese, guacamole, and sour cream with a side of chips. 
May not have been the most original meal - but their salsa shakes things up. 
Lime pineapple, jalapeño hot, mild... take your pick.

After my friends and I finished our Mexican cuisine, we headed down the stairs of the complex to the ice cream shop, the Hop, which is owned by an UNC Asheville alum. 
All the flavors, vegan options included, are homemade and UNC Asheville students receive a discount when they present their Onecard student ids. 

The names of flavors were written all over the glass showcasing the ice cream containers... 
Ones we have come to see in every ice cream shoppe to ones that call for another glance. 
Butter pecan. 
Blueberry kale. 
Aztec chocolate. 

I chose two scoops - one chocolate and one pumpkin, to celebrate the coming of fall. 
Meanwhile, my friend picked a brownie accompanied by scoops of ice cream and decorated with whipped cream.

After a long week, it was nice to end on such a sweet note.

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Out and About On Campus

While I have been absent writing about campus, I have been experiencing campus events to their fullest. 

Over the past few weeks some things I have done include: 

Attended numerous environmental science seminars educating myself and fellow peers about humans' impacts on the planet, not-for-profit work, and much more. 
My favorite was Groundswell International: Agroecology - Cultivating an Alternate Future for People and the Planet
In this seminar, numerous speakers from around the world spoke of environmental issues threatening their communities such as sustainable farming, seed dispersal, local women's education to aid towns in third world countries, and so forth. Alumni hall in Highsmith was packed to say the least; the room was filled with not only environmental majors, but also students from economics, sociology, psychology, and anyone curious in general. 
My favorite speaker was from Ecuador because she spoke only in Spanish and needed a translator. I loved the fact that she spoke only in Spanish because I am currently practicing my Spanish to eventually study abroad. 

Successfully survived midterms, projects, and presentations alike... 
It is safe to say that every teacher wants you to value their class like it is your only class. 
They will not assign you impossible amounts of homework, but the homework they do assign, they expect you to do beautifully. For instance one of my teachers expects our essays to be "pages of artful prose, making an airtight argument..." 
It is easy to complete assignments with numerous resources available such as the writing center, which helps students compose papers. 
There is also the library and its website to search topic resources. 
Asking teachers and tutors for help is also an easy task because they are both easily approachable; reasonably sized classes of about 18 to no more than 30 allows each professor to know you by name. Most of my classes have about 18 people in them. 

Assisted freshman friends with planning their classes for next semester. 
Looking back to when I was a freshman planning my schedule without the help of my orientation leaders, I was not scared but rather paranoid that I would forget something or be unprepared. 
Every student has a faculty advisor, but you only have one meeting with them before registration opens; meaning you must be prepared for the meeting with any questions you may have. 
Of course you can schedule more than one meeting if needed, but it is easier to complete it as soon as possible. 
Nonetheless my sophomore peers and I assisted some of our freshman friends in the process of checking their required courses, advising them on good classes to take, which professors will meet their learning style as a student. 

Welcoming in fall and all of its glory... 
Between counselor events for alcohol awareness month, club meetings, Halloween preparations, and much more - campus has been bustling. 
There are countless events coming up in the rest of October such as the annual Sigma Nu Halloween party, Celebrating Madison County event (authors, artists, and such come to campus to speak), panel discussions concerning alcohol safety, and Halloween events taking place in the student union.


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"Churning the Earth" India Lecture to Asheville

Aseem Shrivastava is the co-author of the book "Churning the Earth: The Making of Global India".

Last Thursday night he made an appearance on the UNC Asheville campus to discuss his book with those who have read it, and educate those who have not. 
I attended the lecture due to my interest in the environmental aspect of his book. 
"Churning the Earth" goes beyond the statements that India is poor and in trouble; it explains why they are economically hurting, how the peoples' hurt is then transforming into the planet's pain, and how this cycle is not going to end anytime soon. 

A lot of people know India is in trouble, but not a lot of people know why and better yet how to fix it

I believe that coming to speak on the UNC Asheville campus was a great opportunity because we are a campus full of curious students and faculty wanting to learn about the issues and figure out how to solve them. 

The lecture was packed to say the least. 
People filled the chairs, the floor, and leaned against the walls...
All gazing towards the front to hear Shrivastava's words. 

The economic majors mixed in with the environmental majors, along with others of different fields, all coming together in one melting pot of a discussion. 
But these two predominant majors of economics and environmental are what Shrivasatava kept emphasizing for collaboration. 
If one group is not aware of the other, or is arrogant of them - nothing will change. 

All of the principles spoken of that night are not only confined to India, they reach to anywhere that wishes to make a change. 

Speakers such as Shrivastava allow UNC Asheville to be proud of the fact that we are a liberal arts school, and we are aware of the world outside of our own bubble. 

Shrivastava's visit was much appreciated and allows Asheville to now become a part of this "churning of the Earth" journey. 

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Another Year as a Bulldog!

Another school year - same blogger as last year except more experiences and more blog posts.
Whether you are new to reading this blog or a returning reader, I want to start off this year's blog with a bang and an introduction about me with some plans for this year.

My name is Madison Olle and I am a sophomore.
If you ask me my major, the answer has probably changed three times since the start of this year alone.
Thankfully, the fact that UNC Asheville is a liberal arts school has allowed me to change my major without getting behind in credits due to their goal of “well-roundness” for each student.
This means that even though I may have not liked French last year like I thought I would have, it helped me get my foreign language requirement done.
I love the fact that UNC Asheville is a liberal arts school.
Time after time I have expressed to my friends and family that I couldn’t imagine if I had to declare a major upon entering school last year.
Picking a major is tough…
As I mentioned earlier though, UNC Asheville makes sure you take a variety of classes to become an active learner in all departments; one way of achieving this is to have each student take a “cluster”.
A “cluster” is a combination of different department courses, such as art, science, language, and math. Each “cluster” is designated a certain topic, such as “Human Health and Illness” or “Latin American Studies”. For a complete list of the clusters and what makes them different in courses, here is the link for more information -
There you go – the beauty of a liberal arts education; giving you the opportunity to “dabble” in various spectrums.

With all of that said, it is obvious that I am in love with UNC Asheville, and promote it whenever I can.

I also love to promote school programs, which I am heavily involved in.
There is something on this campus for everyone, and this year through this blog, I hope to enlighten readers of the wonderful opportunities that are inside and outside of the classroom. I will include links whenever possible to help you get involved too!

But knowing where to get involved can be tough.
Last year as a freshman, I knew I wanted to do something but didn’t know how to get started, but once you have the proper sources, the process of choosing becomes easier.
For instance, are you looking for a job? Check out the career center.
Or maybe a volunteer opportunity? The key center is the place for that.
What about joining a club, starting your own, or maybe becoming a part of Greek life? SAIL (Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership) can give you all sorts of cool information.
Feeling sick? Or want someone to talk to for free counseling? Health and counseling center will have you feeling better in no time!

Besides all of these cool activities, there are campus recreation opportunities that do not involve long-term commitment.
I love to relax by taking some campus workout classes, in particular yoga. Campus recreation has a lot to offer, from weekend trips such as hikes to casual workout classes, campus workout competitions, club sports, intramural sports, and so much more - they are worth the web search.
Here is their link that is the gateway to all outdoor and indoor fun -

Wondering what else is going on on-campus?
Whether you want something relaxing or a lecture to attend, here is the link to go to – the master school calendar.
Everything on-campus is listed there.

As I mentioned, I try to stay involved with campus events; I will try to give you a heads up about any exciting events, but I also write about them after attending, that way if you couldn’t make it, you can check out the blog post and catch up on how the event went.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t attend UNC Asheville and are a prospective student, or alumni – I will definitely make sure you feel as though you were here by staying informed.

Here’s to a great year of school blog posts!


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Reflections of a Freshman

This year flew by. It had its fair share of ups and downs as I gained a feel for not only the campus, but life on my own, and away from home.
But I would not change anything, because otherwise I may have been led along a different path.

It feels like just yesterday that I was jumping up and down because I had just received my acceptance letter from UNC Asheville. As soon as I had been accepted, I researched all that I could do to meet new people because that's the great thing about new towns and new schools. I found out more about these "Pre-Rendezblue"( activities when I attended orientation. But in quick summary, Pre-Rendezblue includes different activities aimed towards rising freshman that you can join for about a week before the start of school in Asheville and go on trips, eat great food, and so on. All of the groups' interests are extremely diverse. Being a city girl, I wanted to try camping, but not "hard-core-sleep-on-the-ground" camping. So I signed up for "Blue Ridge Sampler" which involved all the great outdoor activities with a shelter base camp included.
It was an amazing weeklong experience that I would not have missed. I started the first day of classes with new friends, and to this day continue to be best friends with some of the people I met.
Pre-Rendezblue is a must for any rising freshman.

A circle of Chacos - our shoes prepared for our adventures.

A day of canoeing included seeing the Biltmore Estate. 

Got to the top and celebrated the accomplishment.

When people ask me what my major is, it is a hard question to answer because I barely have a clue as a rising sophomore. But that is the beauty of being at a liberal arts school like UNC Asheville. In high school I would constantly switch between career ideas, and this trait carried on through to this year. I started school wanting to do photography or photojournalism, tried my hand at art classes, then really got into just writing, and am now into health classes. What continually changed my mind were two main factors. The first factor being that UNC Asheville requires students to take classes in each area, such as math, science, and literature, in order to create a well-rounded individual. The other major factor was the faculty. My teachers this year have been amazing in teaching me the material, answering my career questions, and helping me discover my strengths.

This year has flown by... Made great friendships and connections that were only strengthened through fun activities, not only on campus, but within walking distance of campus too.

Rollerskating night on campus. 

Local Greek festival, the food made the easy walk even easier. 

Met the producer of the "Batman" movies, Michael Uslan when he visited campus. 

School spirit with Rocky the mascot at a basketball game. 

Night yoga class on campus to calm down after a long day. 

Spring is welcomed in with a 90s themed lawn party! 

Everyone handles stress differently. Some eat more, some work out, some just clam up and be silent. However, no matter your preferred coping strategy, everyone love dogs. Around the time of exams, the campus has therapy dogs come and sit in an area, open and free for any student to come and spend some quality time with these loving canines. Most of the students have pets back home and miss them, so these dogs are not only helping calm students down from schoolwork, but also mitigate any homesickness.

When I first came to Asheville, I was impartial to the cold. However after a winter here, I actually prefer the cold to the heat now. There is just something magical and comforting to me about the briskness of the air when you first step outside into the snow, you feel your cheeks reddening, and see the warmth of your breath mixing in the air around you. A little snow never slowed down my friends and I. However, it was not all cold and snowing. A lot of the weather involved cherry blossoms, green grass, and afternoons sitting out in the quad listening to people play instruments or the birds chirping as you take a nap or study.

Fire Leaves.

Cold, but determined to get to the gym. 

Some much welcome blossoms. 

Ramsey library at its finest on a gorgeous day. 
Bustling day in the quad. 

With all of this said, it has been a year jam-packed with amazing opportunities, all of which have helped me grow as a new college student. I cannot wait for next year in order to add onto my college memories along with figuring out more about who I am, and who I want to be.

*As the summer break takes place, the school blog will also take a break, and will have new writings at the start of the school year.

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Bike Adventures

We had it all planned out.
My two friends and I would rent bikes on campus, our student benefits allow us to rent bikes for free, that would give us the bikes for one week.
With the bikes we would bike downtown to the bakery "Dough" Saturday morning.
The next day we would do volunteer work downtown for the Earth Day Festival, then enjoy dinner off-campus before biking back.

Saturday went great.
My roommate and I successfully navigated and survived the hills on Merrimon Avenue in order to devour our delicious baked goods breakfast.

After our appetites were satisfied, we biked to the nearby CVS, and back to campus - all of this was deemed our workout for the day.

Saturday night, we decided to leave the bikes on campus and walk to "Luella's BBQ".
It was only down the street from campus and the weather was gorgeous for the weekend.
As usual, "Luella's" did not disappoint, and my vegetarian friend loved her BBQ tempeh!

Dessert was some delicious ice cream from "The Hop", which is a local ice cream shop that serves only home-made products, and is owned by an UNC Asheville alum.

Then as Sunday morning rolled around, my friends and I decided to leave campus early enough in order to give ourselves enough time to bike up any hills on the way to downtown.

We walked in and window-shopped countless stores that I had never really even seen.
These were on Lexington, and I mainly walk around the main part of downtown near Merrimon.

We checked out the clothing stores "Virtue", "Minx", and "Mia".
Along with the arstsy mixture shops of "Kringle Candle Company", and "Cosmic Vision" that included clothes, candles, sculptures, along with adorable knick knacks.
Finally we browsed the adorable bookstore of "Downtown Books and News", I do not think I have ever been in a bookstore that feels more like an enormous home library rather than a store; this is most likely due to where I am from because we only have commercial bookstores near my house.
With all of this said, these stores were amazing.

My friends and I got lost in the sea of colors the stores had to offer, between the colored clothes, candles, books, and countless incense options - we were all taken back.
The best thing was that they were all a stone's throw away from one another so we did not have to go searching for other stores to look through.

Once hunger finally set in, we knew of our "usual" spots, but wanted to try something different, and decided to start walking and see what we came upon.
We wandered onto Patton Ave and saw "FarmBurger".
None of us had been there before, and decided the menu looked delicious.

My friends and I ate every last bite of our food.
I had gotten a chicken sandwich with countless delicious and local toppings, while my other friend got a burger.

There were also vegan and vegetarian options.
The thing that really differentiated this burger place apart from so many others was the amount of information you were given.
Most people do not like thinking about what they are eating, especially when it comes to meat.
However, here they told you the benefits of eating meat, especially when it was all natural, like theirs is.
As I said before, all delicious.

At this point, we were full and the sun had finally tired us out.
So we walked back to our bikes, and sailed back to campus.
Although the bike to downtown is kind of uphill, the ride back is a breeze.

The gorgeous new spring weather motivated us to plan weekend trips to utilize the free bikes, and go on all of these adventures, it all worked out in the end.

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Time for Class Registration

Returning to campus from spring break, a weeklong break in which everyone is meant to catch up on rest, perhaps get some sun, and overall relax. Yet as everyone sets foot back on campus, our rested glows may remain, but they are now accompanied by the return of daily routine, filled with classes and work. But despite this renewal of classes, summer vacation dawns in the future as a guaranteed promise. Although summer, or even spring seems far due to the brisk chill of the weather outside; looking at a calendar and counting the weeks makes it all seem close.

Midterms may have just occurred, but already the school has fallen into preparation for next year; reading emails about registering for classes, attending job fairs concerning future jobs or summer internships. So as the summer approaches, so does more plans.

The halls are filled with people discussing what courses to take next year; whether or not they have fulfilled all their requirements to graduate or not. Having enough courses to graduate at UNC Asheville is a major factor because as I have mentioned before, due to UNC Asheville's status as a liberal arts school, everyone has to take a little bit of every subject. This means every student must take core classes, such as math, foreign language, English, and so forth. Yet it takes more than just simple groundwork to create a well-rounded liberal arts student. Every student must also declare one cluster out of a list of many. A "cluster" in its simplest definition is a way for UNC Asheville to group courses together based on students' interests. Each cluster includes sciences, natural sciences, and others; asking students to chose one class from each heading to total three in one cluster. For example, my roommate is currently completing classes from the "Poverty and Human Capability" cluster; but there are countless areas of interest.

Here are some links to describe more in detail examples of courses: 

Now you might have seen the name "DegPar" and wondered what it was, but did not click on it. DegPar is this wonderful computer tool for students. The free program allows students to see lists of courses they need to take, to not only graduate, but also graduate with an intended major. DegPar allows students to run through "what if" scenarios... "what if" I want to be a literature major, what kind of classes would I be taking? DegPar allows you to see a list, and it takes your past courses into consideration to see if you have already unconsciously fulfilled a requirement.

Making sure you are a well-rounded and balanced student at UNC Asheville is a huge concern. But given the right tools and faculty advisers (everyone has an adviser), planning your class schedule does not need to be stress inducing. UNC Asheville wants you to feel comfortable, not only in your courses, but in preparation for them also.

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Running nearly naked for charity? 

Don't worry, the key word here is "nearly."
But you might as well have no clothes on due to the quick numbing sensation your body is sure to feel once you step outside for this run that had a kick off time of 10pm yesterday.

But it is all for charity... a fact of which I am sure the runners reminded themselves of as they made their late-night lap around the campus.

This was only the second year for the "Nearly Naked Mile Run."
Yet it was another hit.
The idea behind it is you show up to run about a mile around campus, just like any normal day at the gym.
Except you have to donate clothes that will go to the homeless shelter upon your registration for the run.
You can bring a pile of clothes, or just a T-shirt - anything.
But the humor behind this is that you wear what you will donate when you register, then strip down to your underwear (such as a bathing suit or compression shorts, etc) once you register.
So you donate the clothes off of your back.

But your options for running attire are not only limited to bathing suits.
You can wear anything and everything you want, as long as you are not literally naked.

Most people do sport bathing suit attire, but others are a bit more eccentric in their choosing of clothing.
This year there was a runner who wore a unicorn head prop while another group had painted their entire bodies to match one another.

With this said, you are not running alone by any means; but rather quite the opposite of alone, you are running with a pack of other dedicated students who are willing to brave the cold.
You can run with your friends, or pass them, your choice.
Two devoted Belly Dancers model their Naked Mile attire. 

Some people ran to represent their school clubs in order to spread the word. The Belly Dancing Club wrote their name on their backs in order to promote their love for this dance.  

Regardless of the differences in garments, everyone had one major thing in common - they all ran.

As I walked out of my room last night accompanying my roommate who was running, while I documented it all, it had begun to rain.

If that was not tough enough, it began to hail.

Thankfully about 30 minutes later when the race actually began, the hail subsided somewhat and the rain lessened to a drizzle.

Yet as my spectator friends and I eagerly awaited the return of all the runners, we did not have a problem enjoying the nice warm gym.

Once my roommate and I entered the registration area, I was taken aback by all the people!
There was still 35 minutes till the start of the race, and already it was booming with people.

Registration Bustle.

A great shirt to donate for this runner.

  The registration process was easy and quick for the runners to       follow as they were guided from table to table by smiling  
  student government officials.

Clothing donated!

Signing your name, putting valuables in a safe place that you  

were not donating, and then stripping down to your bare minimum clothing of your choosing, while donating the rest.

Easy enough.

After each runner registered, they walked downstairs to the gym floor in order to gather in a pre-freezing cold run pep talk.

Rainbow suspenders and a kilt to bear the cold.

Colorful to the max, with sass to match. 

The new bathing suit season.

Even standing upstairs with the other spectators, awaiting the start of the race, we could hear the boom of the pumped runners chanting for the start of the run.

Then, before I realized what was going on, they began to run back up the stairs leading from the gym floor, back through the lobby where the spectators were standing, and out the main door, into the cold.
The word run is an understatement though; they did not simply run, it was more of a stampede.
Just a little body paint to make things interesting.

They were all a blur... of skin and determinism. 
But you can bet that they stampeded with gusto.
I saw more people bolt by then I could have imagined, it was a rainbow of colors and spectacle of exposed skin - skin that was bracing itself for the undeniable cold that was waiting outside.

Once they all gathered outside at the official starting point, you could hear them pumping themselves up once more.
More pep talk to tolerate the cold!

Then it began.

As the other spectators and I walked downstairs, we were not sure how long the runners would take.
Sure enough, less than 8 minutes later - the first runner finished.
It was a friend of mine, a cross country runner, who lives for events like this.
Being able to look ridiculous, help charity, and the free T-shirt at the end was just icing on the cake of running to him.

Satisfaction is shown with good humor for these runners. 

No matter the differences between everyone's reason for running, the important thing was that everyone was together...
And once the race finished, everyone came together to munch on cookies, celebrate, and dance.

Accomplished runners strike a pose with their new T-shirts.

The nearly naked runners did not appear so naked once they clothed themselves with their victory T-shirts with cookies in hand, and large grins of pride spread across their faces.

Talk of next year's run was already bustling in the gym before the end of the night.

I have a feeling the 3rd annual run will have to work hard to top this one.

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