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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Meet The College Student Who Took A Solo Road Trip Across The United States

With only a cooler, a bag of electronics, and a bag of clothes, Alex Kim embarked on the trip of a lifetime.

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Not many college students can say that they've taken a road trip across the United States. Even fewer can say that they've gone on that journey alone.

However, Alex Kim can say that within one month, he drove from the east coast to the west coast of the United States by himself. And he made sure to hit all the major attractions on the way.

You name it — the White House, Cloud Gate, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and Yosemite — Kim has been to all those places.

Kim is currently a senior at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, majoring in religious studies with a minor in human rights. He plans to attend law school in the fall of 2019. So, he knew that if he wanted to take a trip across the states, the summer of 2018 would be the perfect time.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

I had the opportunity to meet Kim when he briefly stopped by Lawrence, Kansas, near the final stretch of his journey. When he told me about his trip, I was baffled, intrigued, and impressed all at once.

To take a long road trip with friends is one thing, but to take a month-long road trip by himself is an entirely different story.

Kim said he simply wanted to meet people. He had the opportunity to meet other brothers in his fraternity, Pi Alpha Phi, and made quite a few friends (myself included!) on the way. He also visited family friends and people that he knew through Greek life.

Besides meeting people, this trip also consisted mostly of driving an 6-8 hours per day, listening to educational podcasts, and traveling to national parks, monuments, and memorials. He even bought along a burner and pot to cook ramen noodles in the national parks. Kim called these meals his "ramen adventures."

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Kim said this trip was extremely of out of his comfort zone, but it helped that he went alone because he was able to set his own schedules, plan his own routes, and do everything at his own discretion.

When asked about why he decided to go alone, Kim said "Going with someone else means that I will spend way more money than I should… If I went with another person, I also have to cater sleeping accommodations as well."

There were many times where Kim simply slept in his car because he didn't know anyone in the area, or he didn't want to pay for a hotel or Airbnb. But he didn't have to sleep in his car the whole trip. Half the time, he had friends or family members who were willing to house him for a night or so.

In addition, going alone gave Kim a lot of time to reflect on his past and what's to come in his future.

"I can't tell you how many times I thought of what my next chapter of life will be," Kim said.

However, going alone also presented its fair share of obstacles. Some difficulties included bad weather, over exhaustion, too much caffeine, and lack of sleep and nutritious food. One of the biggest problems that he faced was loneliness.

Kim admitted that there were periods of time where he felt extremely lonely. When he knew that he wasn't going to see people for a while, he would call his parents in the morning to tell them where he had been and that he was doing well.

There was one instance where he was first traveling to a national park, Yellowstone Park, and he internally freaked out. For the most part, Kim heard nothing but complete radio silence because there was no reception. Kim said that he felt scared because he wasn't in control of his loneliness.

Aside from those challenges, Kim was glad to say that the road trip went well, and he didn't have any car trouble.

For him, some notable locations were New York City and Los Angeles. Kim didn't really go to L.A. for sightseeing, but rather to pay his respects to an old mentor who passed away. Even though he explored much of nature and national parks, he said that the most breathtaking view was not in fact at a national park, but at a family friend's farm in Harlington, Nebraska.

Courtesy of Alex Kim

"I never thought I would say this, but I really enjoyed the countryside in Nebraska. Being away from the city lights, it was very peaceful and quiet. The sunset was breathtaking," he said.

Overall, Kim approximated that he traveled across the United States for a grand total of 9,700 miles, and despite some challenges, he really enjoyed this trip. He met new and old people and witnessed stunning views that he wouldn't have seen back in North Carolina. As a lone traveler, Kim practiced humility and now sees the world with a fresh perspective.

Kim also learned many lessons along the way and here are six that he shared:

1. Learn to rely on yourself.

2. Sometimes it's good to play it by ear. You'll have the freedom to do so much more.

3. If you can't play it by ear, always have a contingency plan.

4. The people who constantly kept up with you throughout your whole trip are you true friends.

5. Get out of your comfort zone; learn to be versatile.

6. Take time to yourself to reflect on your past, make amends if possible, and plan out your future.

After his trip, Kim returned to North Carolina, taking with him all the experience and lessons he gained from his travels. Nowadays, he keeps busy by studying for the LSAT in September and working towards getting into law school.

But would Kim take this extraordinary road trip again if he could? Most definitely.

See more pictures from his trip below.


Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

Courtesy of Alex Kim

All photos here are provided courtesy of Alex Kim.

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The 9/11 Memorial Is Haunting, But It's Where So Many Souls Came To Rest

As I was approaching the grounds of the memorial, the city that never sleeps suddenly seemed hauntingly quiet.

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When it comes to traveling, I have always been a sort of history buff, wanting to see historical sights and bask in uniqueness of memorials. When I went to Washington, D.C. in eighth grade, I was the kid that kept saying, "Guys, we are literally stepping on history right now! Our forefathers took these same footsteps!" When I came back to NYC for round two, I decided it was time to visit the 9/11 Memorial, especially because during my first visit, it was all under construction.

We had spent the earlier part of the day exploring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We came back to Manhattan for a bite to eat, then headed in the direction of the memorial. As we approached Ground Zero, I realized how hauntingly quiet it seemed. Maybe it was because the workday was nearly over or maybe it was because people actually fell nearly silent at such a sight.


Shelby Gerweck


I didn't know what to expect of the memorial. I didn't know that there were not one, but two fountains that symbolized the locations of the north and south towers. The fountains were both roaring and trickling at the same time, and it made me wonder exactly what the explosions sounded like. Would they have been both deafeningly loud and silent?


Shelby Gerweck


I ran my fingers along the names carved into the wall of the memorial. So many names, and at first glance, you can't believe there are that many, but walking around the grounds proves otherwise. There are signs that welcome visitors of the memorial to touch the names. As I read the names, I wonder about their families left behind. How many of them had been in the towers just on happenstance?

I saw white flowers placed on some of the names. At first, I wonder how many families visit the sight to remember their loved ones. Then, I notice a placard that reads that the memorial honors victims with the flowers on what would be their birthdays. I wonder what time of the year sees the most flowers on the memorial.


Shelby Gerweck


It was especially hard to just stand on the same grounds where people met their fate far before they should have. My empathy got the best of me, and I found myself fighting to keep the tears from spilling over. I wanted to cry for the families that were tragically affected by such a devastating loss. I wondered what the victims thought about when they realized that they wouldn't make it out alive.

Some people chose to stand in front of the memorial in smiling pictures. To me, it felt horribly wrong to be standing on the very ground where thousands of people died, smiling in a picture. People had their lives ripped from them, and today, seventeen years later, people would stand smiling in pictures that they would proudly display on their Facebook pages. Some people decided to play in the fountain waters with their fingers and splash water on the names of the victims. One guy even decided to rest his take-out bag on the memorial while he made a phone call.

How horribly disrespectful it was to see how no one respected the lives of all who were lost that day. Thousands of names, thousands of stories left unwritten. Very few mourning the loss of all of those individuals. The names of six individuals were displayed on the North Tower memorial along with the date of February 26, 1993 to honor those who lost their lives in that World Trade Center bombing.


Shelby Gerweck


It is a memorial that will take your breath away when you realize your humanity, when you realize how time is so very numbered, when you realize that thousands went to work that day that never went home. Beautiful, industrial, haunting. The memorial does not stand on the site of the lives lost but is grounded where the souls came to rest.

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