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The Quintessential First Year Bucket List

August 10, 2023

By: Gabriela Duncan, Summer Marketing Intern

The first days at Carolina are magical but can also be highly overwhelming. “What should I be doing right now?” “What if I am not making the most of my time here?” “Am I even going to make friends??” RELAX, I got you covered. Here are some easy things that you can do that will make your first year at Carolina worthwhile!

Go To Fall Fest (Welcome Week, August) 

Fall Fest is the perfect start to the semester! This year's Fall Fest will be hosted on Sunday, Aug. 20, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. following New Student Convocation. This event is a wonderful way to get acquainted with all  the clubs Carolina has to offer, and there are also tons of free merch to grab. Therefore, I recommend going in with a tote bag to hold all of it!  

Watch Sunset Serenade (Welcome Week, August) 

Of the many fun events from Welcome Week at Carolina, this is one of my favorites. All you need to do is grab your blanket and walk over to the quad in front of Wilson Library, where you can sit back, relax, and listen to the Acapella groups on campus perform!  

(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Go To Franklin Street With Your Suitemates (Whenever, but I recommend at the beginning of the year) 

Franklin Street, the center of student nightlife, is accessible location to get to by taking the P2P or walking. Going with your suitemates or new friends would be a great bonding opportunity, allowing you to spend time together whether you want to get dinner at Top Of The Hill, or a quick frozen treat at the Yogurt Pump! 

Late Night at Chase (All Year) 

From 9 pm-12 am, Chase Dining Hall is open and serves a bunch of yummy food! It is an excellent place to go with friends when you need some study fuel or just a nice evening snack and what makes it so convenient is that this dining hall is super close to the South campus dorms. Some popular options are pizza, salad, omelet bar, ice cream, and sometimes tacos! 

Go To A Football Game (August to November) 

The games are a BLAST because the seats fill up, and the energy is unmatched! Even if you are not the biggest sports fan, it is fun to go with your friends and take in all the school spirit! All student tickets to athletic events are free, but you must enter the lottery for football games, which is very easy. One of my favorite aspects about the layout of Carolina's campus is that the residence halls are so close to Kenan Stadium, so football games are just a short hike away!  

(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Go To A Fever Event (All Year) 

Carolina Fever is the school spirit organization on campus, and its members lead chants during all of the games. Every semester, Carolina Fever will host certain home games as Fever events, in which you get points for attending, which helps your chances of getting a ticket in the UNC vs. Duke basketball lottery. There is also usually free food, which is a plus. Some of the sports that have Fever events are Field Hockey, Soccer, Lacrosse, Women’s Basketball, Wrestling, and Volleyball. Even better, all the stadiums are just a walk away from your residence hall! I recommend that you go to as many as possible because you may discover a sport that you love to watch, for me, that was field hockey! 

Go To Franklin Street for Halloween (October) 

Halloween is a big thing in college; you are never too old to dress up! On a non-Covid year, the streets are blocked off, and everyone walks around and shows off their cute costume! It is also a lot of fun to ride the P2P and see everyone else riding in their costumes on the way to Franklin Street. 

Ramsgiving (November) 

All for the cost of one meal swipe, you can have a Friendsgiving with all of the amazing friends you’ve made thus far before you all go home for break! This event is hosted at Chase Dining Hall every year on the last Thursday before Thanksgiving Break, and it is one you have to go to at least once. The dining hall staff go all out in decorating for the event, and you can smell the pumpkin pie as soon as you walk in! I recommend getting there early (it opens at 5 PM) because the lines get long very quickly. 

Play In The Snow (Usually January or February

One of my favorite parts about moving back down to North Carolina after living in Wisconsin for 8 years is that it only snows about once or twice a year. Here in North Carolina, when there is even a warning of snow, the whole state usually shuts down, often meaning no class! If it did actually snow, it is the perfect time to bundle up and go to one the many stadiums close to first-year residence halls (Karen Shelton Stadium, Kenan Stadium, Dorrance Field, etc.) and have a big snowball fight with your friends or go sledding!    

two students in laugh while building a small snowman
(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Watch the UNC vs. Duke Basketball Game (February and March) 

The UNC Tar Heels are one of the most talked-about teams in the country, and with Northwestern transfer, Pete Nance joining the roster?? It is going to be a GOOD season, to say the least. One of the year's most exciting games is the UNC vs. Duke basketball game in Chapel Hill, which usually happens in February or March. This is the game where fans fill up all 22,000 seats in the Smith Center. Unfortunately, it is a challenging game to get student tickets to, but no worries! Many residence halls will host watch parties for this game and will do so for March Madness games as well! 

Rush Franklin Street (February-April) 

This is the moment when all the running in gym class comes to use. Every time we beat Duke in men's basketball or win a Final Four/National Championship, the tradition is for students to rush Franklin Street. You have probably seen pictures of this, but once the game is over, you drop what you are doing and SPRINT to Franklin Street. It is genuinely one of the highlights of the Carolina experience, as you celebrate the win with THOUSANDS of other Carolina students and end up singing the Alma Mater. 

(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Go To Holi Moli (April) 

This Hindu tradition is the largest student-run event on campus! Also known as the festival of colors, this festival celebrates the arrival of Spring, and it is a must-see.  Be ready to get messy!

(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Go To The Pit for LDOC (April) 

The Pit is always the center of student life on campus, and LDOC is no exception. With free food, merchandise, and blow up bouncy houses??? So much fun! 

While there is so much more I could add to the list, I wanted to stick to the highlights. Even if you do not do everything on the list, just know that if you come in with an open-mind and a willingness to grow and explore, you are going to have an amazing year! 

Carolina Housing updates policies and protocols regularly. Information found within this blog may not reflect our current standards and procedures. If you have any questions, please contact Carolina Housing at for the most up to date information.

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