How Chapel Hill has changed, on the surface…and below

A few weeks ago, when I was in Chapel Hill, N.C., someone asked me what the town and university was like when I was a student at UNC (before and after my year in France). Was it very different? The answer is yes, and no.

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The Old Well on UNC campus

Back then, life was simpler, more private, and much more dependent on serendipity. On the other hand, some things are much simpler now, like “typing” a paper and doing research. It’s easier to arrange a rendez-vous (“date?”) now, but even easier to renege on one. *

Very few students studied abroad when I was at UNC, and those who did applied for the (young) program through the Romance Languages Department in Dey Hall. Now, there’s a Study Abroad Office and a wealth of information available on the UNC Global website. And when I was a student, college debt was much less, even in “real dollars,” and few students signed up for it – college tuition was much more affordable, and so was a year abroad.

The UNC campus hasn’t changed much, except for many new buildings and, of course, fewer parking lots. The town has changed a bit, though. The Franklin Hotel stands close to the spot where the Greyhound Bus Station used to be. Lots of restaurants have come and gone (see below). Now, you go to the Dean Dome for basketball games (if you can get tickets) instead of Carmicheal Arena.

But the Post Office on Franklin Street remains where it was, and so do the Carolina Inn and Granville Towers. The Graduate Library, Wilson, still stands of course, and so do Morehead Planetarium, Playmakers Theatre and the Paul Green Theatre. If you want to live near campus, you can still find rentals on McCauley Street and West Cameron Avenue. And it’s still a short walk to Carrboro.

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The house on West Cameron Avenue where I lived during my last year at UNC

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When I was a student, I worked during the year to help pay expenses. I was a waitress at Spanky’s, the Carolina Coffee Shop, and at the Country Squire, a steakhouse located on the bus line between Chapel Hill and Durham (important, because I didn’t have a car). Spanky’s and CCS are still in business, but the Country Squire was torn down after I graduated, to make room for I-40.

Like any college town, many establishments have disappeared:

 – Papagayo’s (new when I was a student)
 – the Rathskeller (I only went there once)
– Krissa, a favorite Greek place 
– the Yacht Club (fancy, but in a basement)
– Hector’s
– Sadlack’s (where my husband worked as a student)
– Roy Roger’s
– Harrison’s (another bar is there now, I think)
– the Mad Hatter
– the Shack 
– Troll’s 
– the Porthole, a restaurant in the alley next to CCS
 

But some remain:

– Four Corners
– La Residence
– Squid’s (in a different location now, I think)
– He’s Not Here
 – the Station in Carrboro
– Aurora (moved)
– Breadman’s (also moved, but only across the street, and a bit different now)
– Crook’s Corner (way different, and in a different place)
– Pyewacket (used to be vegetarian)
– Ye Olde Waffle Shop, a CCS competior
– and of course, Sutton’s Drug Store.
 

Below the surface changes, I’m sure that life as a UNC student is different now, but still the same in many, many ways. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose…

Which is a very good thing.

* See my post of Sept. 19, 2012: Call me maybe, but don’t break my heart: Sortir avec quelqu’un

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