Highs and Lows – The Championship

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Just under 24 hours ago I watched the UNC men’s basketball team play in the national championship, something that for years I had dreamed of being a student to witness. At the beginning of the night – in a moment of clarity between chanting the fight song and feeling so nervous I could vomit – I realized that the night was something I would never forget and I reminded myself to soak it all in. It was hard to soak in that last 4.7 seconds.

I love Carolina Basketball, and I loved this team. I loved watching Marcus Paige sink an unthinkable three pointer to tie the game with 4.7 seconds left. I loved watching the team play their hearts out and come back from being down by 10 points when they could have given up. And I loved seeing Tar Heel basketball alumni in the crowd cheering on the boys we have all become so fond of over the past few years. But, I didn’t love Villanova hitting that three pointer at the buzzer.

It was a feeling of defeat and sadness that I wasn’t prepared for. It made a silence wash over a crowd that seconds before was deafeningly loud. Paige hitting that three was an all time high, and Villanova hitting that three was an all time low. I sat back down at my booth with my three roommates and we all stared in silence, unable to process what had just happened. With tears welling in my eyes we began the longest walk down Franklin Street I will probably ever take.

I barely looked at my phone after the text from my mom “I’m so sorry” made me immediately start to cry. And when I saw my brother leaving He’s Not and hugged him, I couldn’t control my tears. Maybe it was because I grew up watching him agonize over Carolina basketball and in the past few years grew to truly understand why, or maybe it was because I knew just how much UNC meant to my family and couldn’t swallow the pain. I cried hard enough to lose a contact from one of my eyes – which came to be a perfect metaphor for my night.

The rest of the walk home was partially blurry. I’m extremely blind, so losing one contact sent my vision for a loop. As corny as it sounds though, the different views I had from each eye represent the emotions of that night. My blurry eye represented the defeat and sadness that I was feeling, and my clear eye represented just how proud I was to be a Tar Heel and watch that team play.

You see, there was something special about this team – a team that stayed poignant and strong through some of the roughest times for the Carolina basketball program – and it was one hell of a time to watch them this season. I’m so incredibly lucky to have been a student during this time, to have had the opportunity to pile into the Dean Dome and watch some incredible games and to have experienced the pride and excitement that washed over the campus leading up to the game yesterday.

There is something special about the University of North Carolina. There is nothing like being a Tar Heel, and I think it’s hard for people outside of the university to understand. I’m extremely lucky to go to a school that I love this much and win or lose, its always great to wake up a Tar Heel!

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Half Way There…

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12 hours down….12 hours to go. Last night at 6:30 p.m. I stood up, and I wont sit back down until 6:30 p.m. tonight. Twenty-four hours of no sleep and no sitting. My feet hurt and I’m tired, but I know that it is all worth it for the cause.

I’m standing for 24 hours with Carolina For the Kids for the largest event of the year – Dance Marathon. Carolina For the Kids is the largest student-run philanthropy in North Carolina and raises huge amounts of money to support the patients and families of UNC Children’s. The funds raised by Carolina student participants go directly to help the parents and families of patients at the UNC Children’s Hospital.

Dance Marathon is hard. It leaves you exhausted and with two feet that hate you, but in the last few hours some of the children who your exhaustion and pain is helping come and you cant help but smile from ear to ear. I’m sure I will post more about that after the marathon is finished, for now I’m just focused on making it through the next 12 hours.

I could outline what I’ve done in the first twelve hours, but for the most part it’s been dancing with friends with a few interruptions for snacks and homework. The thing is, what I’m doing in these 12 hours isn’t important, what’s important is the people that it will help in the end. The people who couldn’t get to the hospital to be with their children without the gas cards we provide them with, or the people who get to eat dinner every Tuesday night and have an hour of normalcy though our Parents Night Out program. That’s what is really important in these 24 hours.

Want to play a part in helping the patients and families of UNC Children’s? DONATE HERE!

My first airbnb experience

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Last week I set out with four friends on a spring break road trip, with our first stop in Charleston, S.C. As college students on budgets, lodging was our biggest concern. We wanted to stay in the downtown area but weren’t prepared to pay the fees for centrally located hotels. We had all heard rave review of experiences with Airbnb, so we decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, our experience didn’t end in those same types of reviews.

When we were planning the trip in January, we found an Airbnb that looked reliable. It was advertised as a short walk to the downtown area with available parking and was described as “an old house with character.” The reviews for the rental were great so we quickly booked the room and contacted the owner. When we first booked the room only 4 of us were traveling, so when a fifth person joined our trip we contacted the owner (we will call him Mike), who said the room would be tight but would easily fit the five of us, so we felt no need to change.

When we arrived at the house it didn’t take long to realize that it wasn’t what we were expecting. The street was outside of the downtown area and lacked the typical charm of Charleston. For lack of a better word, it was sketchy. And we quickly figured out that the advertised available parking was really just fist come, first serve on the street. When we went inside it only got worse. The bedroom, that was said to have enough space for two air mattresses, had one double bed and about four feet of floor space, which our luggage quickly filled. Mike didn’t seem to see any problem with it and then added that we couldn’t exactly use the shower. There was a gaping hole in the shower ground and since we were staying in an upper level apartment every time the shower was used water leaked into his downstairs neighbors apartment. He suggested that we not take showers or take very quick ones when his neighbor wasn’t home (still not sure how exactly we were supposed to know when that was.)

We quickly unloaded our car and left to go get lunch in downtown, mostly because we didn’t have enough room to even all stand in the room, let alone change clothes and get ready for the day like we had planned. In under one block we had begun to discuss leaving the Airbnb and finding a hotel and by the time we got our drinks at lunch we had decided we had to get out. One of the boys we were traveling with called Mike and explained our issue, to which Mike asked that he come back to talk to him in person. When Jacob arrived and told Mike that we were told the room would be bigger, there would be secure parking and that we would have a working bathroom Mike basically cussed him out and told him he wouldn’t give him a refund. By the end of the conversation, and through apparently a lot more cussing, Mike agreed to give us a refund of all but $40 but told him to “get the **** out of his house,” so Jacob quickly packed up the car and came back to meet us.

We found a hotel in a centralized location and splurged to get a room. With in five minutes of checking in a worker informed us that America Street, the street the Airbnb was on, was “the sketchiest street in Charleston,” and as we were walking to dinner a man on the street overheard our conversation about America Street and said “nothing on America Street but drugs and money.” At that point we knew we were staying in a safe area so we were able to laugh it off but it only further reassured our rash decision to cancel our reservation. I don’t see myself jumping on the opportunity to book another Airbnb anytime soon, but if I do it will include extensive research. We might of had to pay a little more money for our lodging, but we got a story we will laugh about for years.

Have you had any interesting experiences with airbnb? Let me know in the comments!

Spring Break Takeaways

Last week was UNC’s spring break and I took advantage of the week off of class to travel with friends. We started the trip with two nights in Charleston S.C., then went onto Jacksonville Florida for two nights and ended in Daytona Beach, Florida for two nights. We spent the week hopping from place to place and taking advantage of the warm weather. Here are three takeaways from spring break:

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  1. Sometimes its OK to take a typical spring break: We decided to end our trip in Daytona Beach because we were offered free lodging and wanted warm weather. Although the typical party college spring break wasn’t 100% our scene we took a chance and figured it would at least give us some interesting stories. Granted we came home a day earlier than planned, nine people piled into one hotel room for two nights and we had a blast. I think we all decided three days was enough, but it was fun to have the experience once in college.
  2. Nothing beats a beach day: This one really hit me when we came back to North Carolina today and found ourselves unloading the car in 40 degree weather. There really is nothing better than sitting at the beach soaking in the sun. Maybe its because it reminds me of home, but I could sit in a chair at the water for hours. It made me ready for the summer.
  3. Being a Tar Heel follows you everywhere: At almost every location we found ourselves running into other UNC students or Tar Heel fans. In Charleston a man was playing music on King Street with a Carolina Basketball shirt on. When I said “Go Heels!” as we walked by he finished his song early and played the alma mater for us. When we were in Daytona Beach at a block party to celebrate Saint Patrick’s day we ran into fellow tar heels and when someone walking by heard us talking about Carolina a cheer broke out that eventually evolved into a 20+ group of students singing the alma mater and chanting “TAR HEELS.” Carolina has an unrivaled spirit and people everywhere are eager to share it with other fans.

I came back to Chapel Hill yesterday with tanner skin and renewed energy. I also came back with a deeper knowledge of the workings of Airbnb – read about that in tomorrow’s post. Spring Break was definitely one for the books.

I’m Addicted to Snapchat

Snapchat_Logo-300x250Someone recently asked me what my favorite social media platform was, to which I quickly answered “Snapchat.” I hadn’t really thought about it much, but in the recent weeks I had become somewhat addicted. Between talking to friends through pictures and stories, I was constantly checking for new updates. So what was so addicting about snapchat?

  1. It only last 24 hours – I couldn’t miss watching a story and the thought that once 24 hours were up it was gone forever made it even more appealing. (I know that nothing is really ever completely gone – but I couldn’t access it). If I missed watching Kelly’s snapchat story of her Saturday night I would never know which stranger she met in the bathroom and took a selfie with or what late night food she ate. The lure of having only a limited amount of time to watch it made it the first social media outlet that I checked.
  2. People post their real life – Snapchat isn’t for edited pictures and catchy captions, it’s for post that you wouldn’t find on any other social media outlet. I love the look into people lives that snapchat gives you. It doesn’t just give you a look at the best pictures that they take but can show someone struggling in the library at 3 a.m. or making dinner. Snapchat allows you to connect with people over small parts of their lives, not just the best moments that they post on other social media channels.
  3. It feels like ours – By “ours” I mean people my age. Snapchat is made for people under 30 years old, and it’s nice to have a social media that our parents don’t use. Snapchat is designed for people my age and advertisers use snapchat to target our demographic. With filters and sponsored stories that are tailored to our demographic, Snapchat is the one platform that we can call ours.
I don’t see Snapchat getting less popular anytime soon and I’m sure that I will continue to use it to document small parts of my life.

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Rivalry: competition for the same objective or for superiority in the same field; a competitive or antagonistic state or condition; the state of trying to defeat or be more successful than one another.  -Webster’s Dictionary.

Last night I had the privilege of being a part of the greatest rivalry in sports, and I don’t think those definitions do it justice. The UNC/Duke rivalry is much more than a competitive condition. It’s a tradition, it’s a culture and it’s a ritual. Two times a year two universities just 8 miles from each other face off and both towns stand still. For those four to five hours a year over 20,000 students gather to watch each antagonizing play of the game. And when their school wins, the students celebrate.

And last night, that’s exactly what we did. UNC students watched Marcus Paige sink the final free throws, heard the buzzer go off and poured out of restaurants, bars and houses onto Franklin Street. People lit couches and trees on fire, climbed light poles and sang the fight song with passion. For a few hours last night no one thought about their upcoming test and papers, they just celebrated the pride that comes with being a Tar Heel.

 

When I first came to Carolina I knew that this rivalry would be a huge part of the sports environment at the school. I grew up a Tar Heel fan and was raised to hate the other shade of blue. But when the first UNC/Duke face-off came around my first year it was unlike anything I could imagine. Being a student made it a completely different experience. For a week the campus was a sea of blue and the game was all anyone could talk about. When Duke wasn’t able to make it to the Dean Dome because of the weather we wanted revenge. And 8 days later we got it. This year we lost to Duke in heartbreaking final moments under a month ago, and our team and students wanted revenge. This year we were playing for more than revenge though, we were playing to bring home the ACC conference championship.

But the thing is, we weren’t just cheering for a conference title or a rivalry game win. We were cheering for the pride we have in our university. To me the UNC/Duke rivalry brings out more than just a hatred for the other school, it gives students an excuse to show just how proud they are to be Tar Heels. I use to think my dad was crazy for yelling at the TV and my brother even crazier for throwing remotes at the wall. But now that I’m here it makes perfect sense. Those feelings are rooted in the pride for your school. It drives you to do those crazy things. And it’s pride for your school that leaves you with tears welling in your eyes as you try to enjoy every moment of rushing Franklin, because you know its something really special.

Thank you Carolina Basketball for giving me moments I will never forget.

Reactions

You’re scrolling your Facebook newsfeed catching up on your friends activities. Your neighbor just brought home a new puppy, your high school friend just discovered her grandmother has breast cancer and your classmate just made a hilarious new video. All of these situations spur different emotional responses. You might want to let the neighbor know you’re excited for them, let the high school friend know are saddened by the news and let the classmate know you think their video is great. To show this, you ‘like’ their post. Well, that is until yesterday.

Yesterday Facebook launched ‘Reactions,’ a new way for users to respond to post on their timeline. Instead of just being able to like a post, Facebook users can choose from 6 different emotions: like, love, haha, wow, sad and angry.

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When you use Facebook on the computer if you hover over the link button the different reactions appear, allowing you to choose from them. And on the phone, you can find reactions by holding down the like button. Once someone has responded to a post with a reaction that is different than ‘like,’ the reaction emoticons will show up layered under the like button.

When Facebook changes any part of their user interface it’s big news – so adding this feature was a definite conversation starter. Facebook has worked for over a year to narrow down the emotions that they would use, working with psychologists and testing them in different countries.

For users, reactions are a fun new way to interact with your friends on Facebook – and with the growing political speech from the elections, I can see the ‘anger’ and ‘wow’ face being used frequently – but for advertisers these can provide a whole new metric for measuring an advertiements success. And if a person frequently reacts with ‘love’ or ‘haha’ to videos about a certain subject, the advertisers have even better ideas of what kind of advertisements to target to those customers.

This new feature could have a major impact on the way that companies push content to users. Chevy has already taken advantage of the hype around the new Facebook feature with their Malibu ad. The one minute video focuses on all the different reasons we like posts, and how now we should love the new Ford Malibu. The video was realeased on Wednesday, just in time for Faceboook members to share it when they discovered the new reactions feature. This was a great way for Ford to hijack the converstaiton and hype around the reactions addition and make it apply to their company. Watch the ad here.

What do you think about the new ‘Reactions’ feature? Let me know in the comments!