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Apr 28 2017
by Anna DiGiacomo

The Ultimate Freshman Year Bucket List for UNC Chapel Hill

By Anna DiGiacomo - Apr 28 2017
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As the oldest public university in the country, the UNC-Chapel Hill community is rich in culture and tradition. Whether it's superstitions about a special tree in Polk Place, loving James Taylor a little too much or actually feeling honored to trip on a brick, Carolina can seem like a strange place. And though seasoned students embrace this lifestyle simply as the “Carolina Way,” it can be intimidating for incoming freshmen hoping to embrace life at this university.

To get you started on the right path, Fresh U has comprised the ultimate freshman year bucket list straight from the dorms in Hojo.

1. Drink from the Old Well on the first day of classes.

Though a relatively new tradition compared to the age of the campus, drinking from the Old Well has become a beloved tradition at UNC. The story goes as follows: if you drink from the Old Well on the first day of class, then you will have a perfect 4.0 GPA for the rest of the semester.


2. Explore Wilson Library’s Rare Book Collection.

The Rare Book Collection in Wilson Library started in 1929 when UNC acquired about 400 books printed in Europe before 1501. Today, the library’s collection includes nearly 200,000 books, as well as original graphic, medieval and renaissance manuscripts and historical papers.

However, if that doesn’t excite you, the library also looks like something straight from a Harry Potter film.


3. Have your picture taken with Rameses.

Are you truly a Carolina student if you don’t have a picture with Rameses? It's certainly an interesting question and many Carolina students are split on the issue. Of course, the best solution to this problem is to grab that selfie next time you see Rameses in the Pit.


4. Get frozen yogurt at the Yogurt Pump.

Loving referred to as YoPo, this discreet frozen yogurt shop is a staple of student life at Carolina. With its affordable prices, delicious toppings and changing flavors, there's hardly a student who hasn't been at least once. Just be sure to save your receipts! For every ten you collect, YoPo will give you free yogurt.

For more information about the best restaurants on campus, be sure to check out this article.


5. Celebrate Halloween on Franklin Street.

Arguably one of the most exciting holidays on campus, Halloween on Franklin Street is a massive celebration where people show off their costumes and socialize on Franklin Street. It's loud, crowded and you're sure to run into groups of drunken people. Yet, it's something every Carolina student should experience.


6. Get ice cream at Maple View Farms in Carrboro.

Take a leisurely stroll into Carrboro after class one day and stop by Maple View Farms for their homemade ice cream — you won't be disappointed. Though harder to get than YoPo, this ice cream is infamous on campus for a reason and should be a definite goal for new students. 


7. Play four-square in the Pit.

If you have some downtime between classes and don't feel like trekking back to South Campus, see if anyone is playing four-square in the Pit. The Carolina 4-Square Club holds games nearly every week and welcomes anyone interested in playing. However, you can always start your own game as well.


8. Argue with the Pit Preacher.

A well-known figure on the UNC campus, Gary the Pit Preacher is known for his unorthodox interpretation of the Bible and his theatrical way of preaching. He has a large repertoire of subjects, and he is more than willing to argue with you if you have the time. Just remember not to take him too seriously.


9. Participate in Holi Moli.

UNC's most colorful spring celebration, Holi Moli is hosted every year at Hooker Fields to promote multiculturalism and diversity at UNC. The event raises awareness and funds for social justice in the community, while also introducing people to the Hindu holiday of Holi.


10. See a star show at the Morehead Planetarium.

With flexible hours and a large array of shows, there's no reason not to attend a star show at the Morehead Planetarium. Even if you know nothing about astronomy, the planetarium's high-definition full-dome video and surround sound will engross even the most uninterested visitors.


11. Crash a prospective student tour.

If you ever toured the Carolina campus and overheard strange conversations between various students, this is by design. While Carolina students are proud of their campus and love showing it off, it can still be annoying when you need to get across campus and a tour group is clogging the sidewalk. Make the best the situation and troll the visitors with your ridiculous conversations.


12. Dance in a library flash mob.

Though few and far between, flash mobs are just one of many ways students deal with the tension and stress of exam week. If you catch whispers of such an event being planned, be sure to participate. They're one of the hidden gems of student life. 


13. Attend at least one game for every UNC sports team.

Attending a basketball or football game is easy in Carolina — in fact, it's expected. However, if you really want to challenge yourself freshman year and show your school pride, attend a game for every sports team. This includes men's and women's lacrosse, soccer, swim, track and field, etc. If you achieve this, you truly are a great Tar Heel and an inspiration to us all.


14. See the Davis Library Streakers.

Whether you're participating or simply observing, the Davis Library Streakers are a must-see for every first-year student. On the evening before the first final exams, fearless students make their way to the eighth floor of the Davis Library together, remove their clothing and sprint down all eight floors of Davis to the second-floor atrium of the Undergraduate Library.


15. Sit on the Davie Poplar bench.

The Davie Poplar tree is a 375-year-old tulip poplar tree located in Polk Place. According to legend, the university will only thrive for as long as the tree stands. If it falls, Carolina will crumble. However, this tree is also the center of another legend — if a couple kisses on the stone bench beneath the Davie Poplar, that couple will eventually marry.


16. Trip on a brick.

Brick vs. Student — it's a timeless battle that every Carolina student must fight and unfortunately, the brick almost always wins. Every student has, at some point, been victimized by the bricks at Carolina and it's become a rite of passage.


17. Memorize the words to James Taylor’s “Carolina In My Mind.”

Written by James Taylor, "Carolina In My Mind" has its roots deep in the Carolina community and is considered the unofficial song of UNC-Chapel Hill. The song is reminiscent of Taylor's childhood in Carrboro and his father, who was a professor at UNC. Today, the song is played at nearly every campus event and is sung by the graduating class at every university commencement.


18. Sign your friend up for clubs at Fall Fest — without his or her knowledge.

Fall Fest is notorious for club recruitment and their nefarious listservs. Use this to your advantage and sign your friend up for all the email lists. Not only will you avoid getting harassed by club representatives, you can also prank a friend while you're at it.


19. Find the Arboretum Whistler.

Walk across the Coker Arboretum on a lazy afternoon and you may hear the strains of beautiful whistling in the breeze. The source of it is a man called the Arboretum Whistler or the Campus Whistler. Not much is known about the Arboretum Whistler, but the few students lucky enough to meet him always have a great tale. 

Check out this Daily Tar Heel article for more information


20. Rush Franklin after beating Dook — all the way from the Dean Dome.

Rushing Franklin is a true Carolina tradition that no student should miss, regardless of your class year. The tradition goes as follows: in moments of great triumph, UNC students will storm Franklin in celebration. Yes, couches and other furniture will be burned. People will jump through flames, climb light posts and jump on stranger's shoulders. Basically, it's a free-for-all and anything goes. Thankfully, local law enforcement is always aware of potential rush nights and stations officers accordingly.


With such a large and dynamic campus, it's impossible to experience everything UNC has to offer. Be sure to check out these other resources for other great ways to get the best out of your first-year experience: The Daily Tar Heel, True Blue and BuzzFeed.

Good luck!

Lead Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


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Anna DiGiacomo - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Anna is a freshman Strategic Communications major at UNC Chapel Hill. She played varsity soccer in high school and besieged the student body with libertarianism. She now spends her time annoying her roommate, catching Bruce Springsteen concerts and getting lost while pretending to camp. Follow her on Instagram @digiacomoa

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