Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Old Well

The Old Well is the unofficial symbol of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. It was the only source for water when the University was established in 1793. Although it has become more like a meeting place and a photo opportunity than a provider of water, you can still lessen your thirst at the Old Well.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Although my accent is probably Americanized by now and the computers at UNC force the s’s in my papers into z’s and automatically delete the ‘u’s from words such as labour and behaviour, I refuse to call the season of the falling leaves anything but Autumn. Apart from my linguistic hostility I must say it truly is the lovely season that Liesbet promised me.
The sun is shining on the colouring leaves, everywhere you see the squirrels bury their food and the deer cross my path when I walk back to my apartment. There is some rain, but hardly comparable to the amounts typical of a Dutch Autumn. The temperatures are very agreeable and are even going up into the seventies. It feels unnatural, though, to see people in t-shirts and shorts, trotting through the autumn leaves on their slippers.


It was Halloween last week in America. It was Heeloween in North Carolina. Tar Heel is the nickname for North Carolina and its University, its students and its University athletes. The nickname is related to the tar that was created from the pine forests in North Carolina. During the Civil War the North Carolina troops are supposed to have threatened Virginians to put the tar on their heels so they ‘would stick better’.1 And a Tar Heel celebrates Heeloween.

Heeloween in Chapel Hill means, besides trick-and-treating and the costumed parties, a massive gathering on Franklinstreet. According to police reports 50.000 people gathered on Chapel Hill’s main street to experience Heeloween. As a visitor I could only wonder about the joy of the robots, cavemen and women, penguins and Lincolns. A rabbit in a head why I was not wearing a costume. I guess it is one of those parties, like the Dutch Sinterklaas, only understood by people who started celebrating it as a child. Although I was touched by the magic when a rabbit in a head wondered about my 'costume'.

1 sources: Wikipedia and the UNC website, http://www.unc.edu/