11 Reasons Why North Carolina Is The Best State Of All Time

11 Reasons Why North Carolina Is The Best State Of All Time

I never understood when my peers said they wanted to get out of their hometown or escape their home state.
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I never understood all my peers who said they wanted to get out of their hometown or their home state and escape. North Carolina has always been the best of all worlds to me.

Here are only a few of the reasons why I'm not one of the people anxious to get out and get away. North Carolina will always be my favorite to come home to.

1. Plenty of country.

This is a necessary qualification for me for the best state ever.

2. Cities.

Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville (for the hippies, you know). There's also Wilmington, which has a beach, so.

3. Beaches.

Another necessity. I love that we have beaches that are full of people, in the water, playing volleyball, tanning and having a good time.

But I also love that we have quiet beaches where you can be by yourself and have a relaxing day on the shore.

Also, we have an island with wild horses that you can go see, so I don't think there's any question that this is the best thing ever.

If you needed any more convincing, the sun rises perfectly above the glistening, green-blue waters of the ocean, and it doesn't get any better than that.

4. Mountains.

Best of both worlds, right? We have the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway, Biltmore Estate, a 60' natural waterfall rock slide in Pisgah National Forest. Stop in Boone or Asheville for a perfect downtown experience to round up your mountain vacation. Or just move there, I mean.

5. History.

North Carolina's historic sites date as far back as some of the first European settlers arriving in the 1600s. Several Revolutionary and Civil War battle sites can be found as well, including the pivotal Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and the surrender of Confederate soldiers at Bennett Place.

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro is also located at the actual Woolworth's diner that sparked a huge wave of powerful, non-violent protests during the 1960s.

6. All the seasons.

FINALLY, a state with all four seasons in good balance. Spring is gorgeous and new and green. Summer is hot and perfect like it's supposed to be, especially with a few beach trips thrown in there. Fall is cool and breezy. The leaves are gorgeous and bonfires unending and the sky is clear blue to the horizon. Winter is... cold. Snow comes a few times a year, as long as the weather isn't feeling too moody, and Christmas is freezing as it should be.

7. Diversity.

Assuming you like that kind of thing. Especially politically, we have from either extreme end of the spectrum down to everything in between. It's not one of those strictly blue or red states. We've got a pretty equal balance.

8. Middle of the East coast.

This way it doesn't take 24 hours driving to get from one end to the other. You're just in the middle of everything! Also, if you're like me and live in the middle of North Carolina itself, you're just one day trip away from the beach and the mountains too. 10/10 would recommend.

9. Great universities.

Whether public or private, North Carolina has an impressive selection of excellent universities to choose from, including Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, Wilmington, and Charlotte, Davidson, Elon, NC State, and more.

10. Best college basketball rivalry.

OK, obviously I couldn't get through this whole thing without bringing up the infamous Duke-UNC college basketball rivalry. It's pretty much legendary at this point. Check out this statistic from Sporting News' Alex Novick.

Going back 41 years, these two teams have played each other 100 times. Incredibly, both teams have won exactly 50 games while Duke has scored 7,767 points to UNC's 7,765.

Excuse me, WHAT? Like I said, legendary.

11. My hometown.

Hillsborough, NC is where it's at. I know, bad grammar, I'm sorry. But I mean, really. It's the ideal, charming, Southern small town. The downtown area is winning in every area, plus there's a river walk right near downtown and lots of history in between. Just go the link attached, and you'll fall in love, I'm sure.

Cover Image Credit: Olivia Knight

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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A Gap Year Was Just What I Needed

Taking a year off between high school and college was the best thing I could have done for so many reasons.

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Everyone around me was buzzing with excitement about their acceptances to their dream university and I didn't feel the same. I was accepted to every school I applied to, but none of them felt right. At my high school, if you didn't go to college, you would have been deemed a failure and that is not what I wanted my reputation to be. When the day came, I sat down at a computer to accept my admission to a college. I was in a panic mode, and I knew that's not what I wanted. I had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had no idea if that was where I wanted to be, so I exited the website and came up with a plan.

After graduation, I boarded a flight to Denver, Colorado. I was alone on a plane going 1,000 miles west to a place I've never been. In a short amount of time, I knew I had made the right decision.

I spent eight months in the Rocky Mountains learning how to do the "adult thing." I worked 40+ hours a week in freezing temperatures and a ton of snow, making ten dollars an hour. In a resort town, ten dollars is not a lot of money. I lived on Wonder bread and eggs, I cooked on my hotplate on the top of my mini fridge. I was shown what it's like to work for the things I want, and it taught me to appreciate everything I've always been handed so easily, and that was something I really needed.

Throughout my adventure, I met so many different people in all different stages of life. I think that's the most important aspect of my entire trip. By working and living with people young and old, I learned different skills, living habits, and ways of life which I am forever grateful for. These people had shown me more about life in eight months than I had learned in my entire life, and without this experience, I would have never been introduced to half of the things I was introduced to.

I hiked 14,000-foot mountains, watched the X-Games in Aspen, attended endless concerts, and became a better snowboarder by having the chance to do it every day. Without my friends and taking this leap, I would have been sitting in a classroom wondering what I could have been doing instead. Because of taking time off, I am now back in class, able to focus on my work and doing better than I ever have before.

The most important part of my gap year was finding myself. I proved to myself that I am strong and independent, and I can achieve any goal I set as long as I work hard and have fun along the way. Before I left, I had no idea what I wanted to do or be. Upon my return home, I realized I needed to go to college to receive a higher education to better myself. Having a full-time job and being out in the real world helped me to narrow down what I really want to be and what I want to achieve for myself. I learned how to truly live and that there is no set path I need to take because this is my own life to create.

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