Roommates 101: To Pick or Not to Pick

Receive the email. “Your application status had been updated.” Open the acceptance letter. Scream a little. Then join the college Facebook group.

It’s a process familiar to most seniors who choose to apply to college. Today, insert-college/university-name-here Class of 2022 Facebook groups, as well as websites such as roomsurf.com, help prospective students connect and, oftentimes, find freshman year roommates.

Yet how much about a person can really be gleaned from one social media post? Moreover, by what criteria do students evaluate potential roommates, and how does this affect their first year experience?

In light of this recent trend, some universities have taken action. Notably, Duke University announced in March that next year’s freshman class will no longer have the option to select a roommate before enrolling. Other local universities that have opted to end roommate choice include High Point University and Wake Forest University.

Rachel Jensen, a first year at UNC Chapel Hill, estimates that almost all her classmates found their first year roommates on Facebook.

“In my experience, 90 percent of people go in choosing their roommate…it’s definitely far more common,” said Jensen.

While in the minority, Jensen — who was assigned a roommate randomly after filling out a short survey — says she and her roommate live well together.

“We are able to balance each other out,” said Jensen. “I’m lonely when I go home and I have my single-person room.”

Anna Kemper, a senior at CHS, says the number of people who “go random” at Butler University, where she will be a student next year, is a lot larger. She trusts the system and isn’t too worried about not having control over her roommate.

“Even if I’m not best friends with [my roommate] I don’t have to see them all the time,” said Kemper. “There would only be a huge issue if she’s really mean or doesn’t have good hygiene.”

Savannah Dolan, a senior at CHS, and Maura Holt-Ling, a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill, both chose their freshman year roommates before matriculating.

Dolan choose her roommate through Facebook so she wouldn’t have to worry about being put with someone she isn’t compatible with.

“You don’t have to stress out about being put with someone you don’t have similarities with, or someone you don’t think you’re going to be able to be good friends with and live with for a year,” said Dolan.

She and her roommate were immediate friends and Facetimed for three hours before committing to room together.

Holt-Ling also felt an instant connection with her roommate after meeting online and going through what many students dub “roommate dating.”

“We just hit if off right away,” said Holt-Ling.

Kemper opted for a random roommate since she doesn’t know anyone else going to her college and since the university strongly encouraged it.

Jensen, on the other hand, said the decision was basically made for her.

“I decided where I wanted to go to college kind of late,” said Jensen. “I missed the wave of people looking [for roommates] on Facebook.”

Duke University cited diversity as one of the main reasons for their recent policy change. According to a university statement, when students have the option to choose their roommate, they generally gravitate towards students with “very similar backgrounds to their own.”

“Research shows that the more diverse the interactions among students, the better equipped they are for life after Duke,” the letter continued.

Holt-Ling and Dolan both say they have a fair amount of similarities with their respective room-
mates.

“I wanted to find someone who shared a lot of the same interests as me,” said Dolan.

“I reached out to [my roommate] initially because we had some of the same music tastes and liked the same TV shows,” echoed Holt-Ling.

Still, they also emphasized that they and their roommates are distinct people.

“My roommate and I have some things in common, but not everything,” said Holt-Ling.

Jensen feels she and her roommate are less similar.

“We’re pretty different personality wise,” said Jensen. “She’s definitely more outgoing than me … I appreciate that, because I feel like it encourages me to put myself out there a little more.”

Kemper added that similarity does not  equal compatibility.

“A lot of friends I have now I’m complete opposites with,” said Kemper.

All four students emphasized that whether or not someone chooses their roommate before college or is assigned one randomly, they can gave a great first year experience.

The Best of Both Worlds

On April 4, 28 students and two teachers travelled across the Atlantic ocean to visit the United States. For the past eight years, Madame Nathalie Gaut, CHS French teacher, has been exchanging students from France and introducing them to American culture for three weeks.

It was eight years ago that she first developed an interest in starting an exchange program.

“I called the embassies to try to find teachers in France, and finally the embassy in Atlanta called me back,” said Gaut. “I got in touch with the teacher, and I met her in France, and we decided we could work together.”

Every year Gaut has to find 28 families willing to host the French exchange students, and then the host families have priority to go to France the following year.

“You really learn about the culture… you get to live with a family and learn the language, but you also learn the culture,” said Gaut.

Cultural differences are a big part of going from one country to another; exchange student Emma
Reglin talked about how different school is here.

“It is less strict. We can wear anything we want,” said Reglin. Exchange student Marie Gagnant talked about the clothing rules in America versus in France.

“In France, when we wear shorts with a sweatshirt, everyone just thinks really bad of that,” said Gagnant.

Gagnant agreed that the rules in school are much more rigid in France.

“Our teachers are much more strict, we can’t use our phones, we can’t eat,” said Reglin. She added that it wasn’t too difficult to adjust to speaking a new language.

“We always find a way to explain what we want to say, even if we don’t know the word,” said Reglin.

Many exchange students found that their favorite part of the trip was the people that they met and how well they got along with their host families.

“[It was ] maybe too good because now it is too hard to go back to France,” said Reglin.

The host families of these students had may hopes and fears as these students arrived in Chapel Hill.

“I was worried they were going to hate me or be mean to me or not have a good time,” said host sibling Fiona Galinsky, sophomore.

Isabel Simmons, also a CHS sophomore, talked about how much she was going to miss her new friend.

“We have gotten so close. Lisa [exchange student] and I shared a room and so it was really fun,” said Simmons, “Every night before we went to bed, we’d talk about her boyfriend, the boy I like, and what happened that day.

It was really cute and fun, and I’m going to be really sad when she’s gone.”

This year’s French exchange students with their hosts

Ready Player One Done, Unready?

Warning: Spoilers ahead (but you likely won‘t watch this movie anyway)

After seeing the first trailer for Ready Player One, I was incredibly excited, as any normal person would be after reading Ernest Cline’s novel of the same title. When someone makes a movie based on a popular book, readers tend to forget about the countless books that have ultimately been butchered by their movie-makers. I became one of those blind fans. But the film is by Steven Spielberg, so it should be okay, right?

Since I’m such a sucker for video games, cartoons, anime and the like, I was bound to fall in love with the movie. There were so many references and characters appearing from games like Halo, Over-watch and more from shows like Danganronpa, Gundam and The Breakfast Club to name a few.

The story is based off of a dystopian world in the year 2045 where people use the OASIS, a virtual reality world, to escape the the dread of the real world. The creator of the game, James Halliday, passes away and leaves his entire fortune as an ‘easter egg’ in a large quest meant to find someone worthy of obtaining it all.

Wade Watts (Parzival) is the protagonist and is one of many who seek the egg. During his quest he finds four main friends, Samantha (Art3mis), Helen (Aech), Daito and Shoto — the High-5. Wade finds the first key, and becomes a hero later on by keeping the Innovative Online Industries

(IOI), an enormous company, from obtaining the power of the OASIS. All this is  followed by sarcastic jokes and 80s video game and show references. Sure these are typically “mainstream” games and shows, but many of those used in the movie are classics which allow the flick to grab the attention of different age groups.

But as great as the animation and obvious game advertisements are, there are still some big disappointments to this movie compared to the original novel.

There are some major — I mean really major — plot holes in the movie. One is the ‘Extra Life’ coin that Parzival, or Wade Watts, gets when the main antagonist detonates a bomb that eliminates all avatars on a planet.

Nowhere in the movie is there a clear explanation as to why or how he gets the coin. He just discovers it in his pocket when he realizes he is still alive. In contrast to the vagueness of the movie, the book has a clear explanation to Parzival’s  possession of the coin.

In the novel, Parzival comes across an arcade right after he gains the second gate key. The game he plays in the book is PacMan, and he gets the coin by beating the game altogether.

Aside from the coin, there are significant details relating to the characters from the novel that were pushed aside in the making of the movie.

It should also be mentioned that Daito and Shoto, the supposed brothers in the movie, never actually met in real life. They were both enrolled in a support group for hikikomori in Japan, which was for OASIS addicts who’d disengaged from the real world.

Character appearances were also compromised in the movie, which is a common issue among films made by big film companies since they tend to hire actors and actresses who have ‘pleasing’ appearances and figures.

Wade struggled with his weight which made school in the real world a miserable place for him. Later in the story when he becomes wealthier from his discovery of the keys, he enables a voluntary OASIS fitness lock, so he wouldn’t be able to visit OASIS unless he followed a mandatory daily exercise. It wasn’t just Wade who
struggled with his weight either. Samantha (Art3mis) and Helen (Aech) were over- weight too.

As nice as it was to see a real boy-ish character like Helen in the movie, the avoidance of social issues like how awkwardly obese children are treated by others and how isolated teens exist today was disappointing.

With all these faults out of the way — though there are several more — the movie was a success and is still an amazing movie that took extensive time to film and animate. That is, at least, without the book in mind.

There is still so much left out of the movie, so many social issues, significant moments and details about characters. I get it though, since movies have a general time limit that they have to follow before their audience gets tired, and this movie was already a good two hours and 19 minutes.

In the end Steven Spielberg made a great movie, but like all other live-action films for books, he still took away so many things that made the novels great. He focused on a creator’s crush on another man’s wife and took away most of the focus on the other members of the High- 5, putting it all on the protagonist and his love interest.

Stores, Stories

Sutton’s Drug Store, E Franklin

Established: 1923

Nearly a century old, Sutton’s Drug Store is truly a Chapel Hill institution. Reflecting the establishment’s ties to the community are the thousands of photos displayed on the historic walls.

In fact, since the 1980s, Sutton’s employees have taken over 10,000 photos of the store’s many patrons. In addition to its well-known burgers, sodas and specialty items, Sutton’s housed a pharmacy for 91 of its 95 years; only in mid-2014 did John Woodard, owner, sell the pharmacy to nearby CVS. Even without the pharmacy, the owner stays busy. Sutton’s food truck, which stations itself on Rosemary Street, opened just two months after discontinuing the pharmacy.

Fun fact: Years ago, there was a toy store in the basement of Sutton’s.

Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe, E Franklin

Established: 1972

Waffle Shoppe has always been a family-run business. Husband-and-wife duo James (Jimmy) and Linda Chris — both NC natives — founded and operated the restaurant until Jimmy passed in 2012. Linda now works alongside her daughter, Melissa, to maintain the family tradition. To cultivate the restaurant’s simple and charming ambience, the Chris family stripped down the building’s interiors and renovated the space before opening to customers. The menu touts similarly simple, yet timeless, breakfast items.

Fun fact: While renovating the building in the 70s, Jimmy incorporated materials from a former Greek Orthodox church — the same church where he and Melissa married.

Mama Dip’s Kitchen, W Rosemary

Established: 1976

Mildred “Mama Dip” Council was born in Chatham County and cooked for numerous local businesses before she opened this revered Southern-style restaurant. Council has alway valued locally-sourced ingredients, long before eating local became trendy. Her fresh Southern food quickly attracted locals, and Mama Dip’s established itself as a staple of the community. In the more than four decades since its inception, Mama Dip’s gained national recognition; Council authored two cookbooks, and Rachel Ray featured the restaurant on her program, $40 a Day, in 2004. Today, Council’s family members manage most of the daily operations, but she maintains an active role in the restaurant. Her granddaughter, Tonya, even started her own businesses, Tonya’s Cookies, across the street.

Fun fact: Mama Dip’s started its first day in business with only $40 to spend on food. It ended that day with over $130 in profits.

A look at Parental Celebration at CHS

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: a worldwide honoring of parenthood. Whether you’re the one celebrating this holiday or the one being celebrated, these two holidays are an ongoing tradition that have been eminent through history. This year, Mother’s Day was Sunday, May 13th, and Father’s Day is Sunday, June 17th. Both of these holidays date back to the Greek and Roman empires, with festivals being held to honor mothers in their culture and to honor the mothering goddesses.

But, Anna Jarvis created today’s Mother’s Day, using this holiday to remember her mother who had just passed away. Jarvis worked to popularize this holiday and even worked with local floral companies to promote it.

This sprouted the origin of the next holiday, Father’s Day. It began when Sonora Smart-Dodd thought up the idea to honor her father while at a Mother’s Day sermon. Her mother had died at a young age and her father was there along the way to raise the children. He was a Civil War veteran and a widower, and she believed that he deserved just as much honor as mothers did, thus creating the holiday Father’s Day. Not long after, this holiday too become commercialized, following in the steps of Mother’s Day.

Here at CHS, many students celebrate these two holidays, but many teachers also do so as parents. Some of Carrboro’s teachers have kids, making them the subject of celebration on these holidays.

One of these teachers is Carrboro’s engi- neering teacher, Dr. Jeffrey Arthurs. Dr. Arthurs has a son, aged 20, who attends the University of Florida. While it may be tough to try and get together, they make an effort every year.

“We try to do something special,” says Arthurs. “That includes going somewhere, doing something together.  He’s finishing his third year at Florida, and it’s been a bit hard to do things with timing, but we try every year.”

While it may be onerous to meet every year for Father’s Day, it is the meaning of  the holiday that makes it truly special.

“I think that it’s one day that allows me to really be proud of being Joshua’s father. I’m reminded of the awesome responsibility and I celebrate the joys of seeing him grow up and become an outstanding adult,” says Arthurs.

Even though the holidays of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are increasingly commercialized, it doesn’t detract from the meaning of each one. While the celebration may be different for each family, it all has the same backstory and purpose. It is meant to honor parents and celebrate how they’ve changed and influenced their children.

Illustration by Nina Scott-Farquharson

Vegetarian Options: Food Truck Edition

Tacos Ramirez
4.5/5 stars

As a vegetarian, tacos are one of my go-to staple meals. This being said, all tacos are not created equal. Because I don’t eat meat, getting sufficient protein is an important factor when considering what I’m going to eat. I simply cannot trifle with the shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes thrown together into a tortilla that is offered by some so- called “restaurants.”

At Tacos Ramirez, I feel taken care of as a vegetarian customer; they offer guacamole (at no extra charge), cheese and rice as part of their veggie tacos. My only com- plaint would be a lack of variety as there are only so many ways to mix up a taco. But always fresh, and always delicious, the tacos shine all on their own — although they are best complemented with a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of their signature hot sauce.

Monterrey
5/5 stars

While the Monterrey restaurant is an experience on its own, the Monterrey food truck takes it to an- other level. Somehow, they are able to keep the same great food quality, the same fast timing and the same impeccable service that they uphold at their storefront. What I really appreciate about the Monterrey food truck is its variety for non-meat-eating customers like myself; I have many options to choose from, ranging from tacos to burritos to rice dishes, and they even have a vegetarian chimichanga if you ask! I know…they really did it to us. My only criticism is that you have to get creative if you’re ball- ing on a budget; remember the beauty in ordering side dishes! Their portions do not disappoint.

Napoli
2.5/5 stars

One quick look at my instagram feed will tell you that I am a sucker for beautiful scenery. Settled in a pleasant grassy area next to the lumber store parking lot — which, let me tell you, can easily be cropped out in a photo —  the Napoli truck is the perfect place to enjoy an aesthetically pleasing slice of pizza. Unfortunately, for me, the beauty stops there. I almost feel as if, sitting under the fairy lights at a perfectly imperfect wooden picnic table across from your lover/best friend/mom/dog, you can forget that your pizza is literally charred and crumbling before your eyes. Maybe wood-fired pizzas aren’t my thing, but I honestly can’t even discuss the nature of the food, because I am immediately overwhelmed with one flavor: charcoal. Despite this, Napoli gets brownie points for its fresh mozzarella and, okay, surprisingly diverse vegetarian section of its menu.

Chirba Chirba
1/5 stars

Given America’s obsession with burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken and steak, I quickly realized that foods from other countries were my best friend. Heralding authentically made Chinese dumplings and noodle bowls that look straight out of a Miyazaki film, Chirba Chirba seemed like my dream come true. Their dumplings looked plump and flavorful, their noodle bowls dense and colorful—needless to say I was excited. That is, until, I trot on over to the truck and discover that they offer one singular vegetarian option: sweet potato dumplings.

Putting my aversion to sweet potatoes aside, I order them anyway. Chirba Chirba conveniently does not advertise these dumplings in photo form on their truck, and after receiving them, I see why. Flat and seemingly lifeless, the dumplings were already not giving a good first impression. Unfortunately, I only grew more disappointed from there.

The filling seemed to be entirely comprised of spicy sweet potato mush and, to be quite honest with you, I felt like a literal baby. Here I was, expecting a lovely vegetarian dumpling, only to find myself wiping blended potato from the corners of my mouth and hoping no one sees me consuming this boujee infant cuisine. I have heard good things of their meat dishes, but, needless to say, this vegetarian will not be coming back.

Photo courtesy Roaming Hunger

CHS DECA diamonds take internationals

From Saturday April 22 to 25, for the first time in Carrboro High School history, two DECA members competed in the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC), held in Atlanta, Georgia.

DECA competitions began in the fall with the districts competition, which Carrboro DECA members competed in at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center. In early March, DECA members competed at the state level competition, NCDC, at the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center. There were numerous members who received recognition for their competitive events. During the last night of award recognition, the participants that medaled in the first four positions in their event automatically qualified for the international competition. This year, three students from Carrboro High School qualified: Kirby Thornton, senior; Leanne Joyce, senior, and Ojas Patwardhan, junior.

Thornton competed for the Food Marketing event in the marketing career cluster. Similarly to NCDC, the international event consists of two components, a test and 2 role play scenarios, which each make up 50 percent of the overall score.

“I took around seven practice tests to prepare for the 100-question test that we usually take at school, but for internationals you take in a room with thousands of other kids on a scantron. I also went over hundreds of performance indicators and figured out what terms I did not know,” Thornton said.

Joyce did a written event for states in the event of Business Growth Plan for the Entrepreneurship cluster, which she also participated in for ICDC. For the Business Growth Plan, Joyce wrote a 30-page paper, explaining her plan. At the competition, Joyce presented her business plan to the judges of the event.

“After placing second at our state competition, I revised my work and was them ready to turn in my 29-page paper for ICDC. My event also required a 15-minute presentation and Q&A about my growth plan which I practiced numerous times prior to competing,” Joyce said via an email interview.

According to the official DECA website, the international competition brings together over 18,000 members and students, and there is the opportunity to make numerous connections with many different people.

“It’s socially acceptable to walk up to literally anyone and ask them what event they are in and where they are from, because everyone is so social and really into networking. They make it easy to do so, because each state or province has hats or pins, so people trade them back and forth,” Thornton said.

During Tuesday night, at the award ceremony for her event, Joyce was a top 10 finalist for her event. Similarly to Thornton, Joyce agreed that the atmosphere within the competition made conversation very easy.

“ICDC had a very vibrant energy, and it was incredible to interact with students from all over the world who are united by an interest in business and entrepreneurship,” Joyce said.

Photo courtesy Kirby Thornton