My name is Anais and I am currently studying abroad at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill after completing the first two years of my law degree at King’s.
While being able to study abroad at the University of North Carolina School of Law, one of the best public law schools in the country, is exciting, it is also a lot of work to get here.
The American immigration process is famously long-winded, and my visa application was no exception to that. It took six weeks to get all my information and all the required forms in order, and at the end, I felt like I had retold the story of my life since birth at least seven different times.
Next was the visa interview. After three and a half hours of queuing in the burning sunlight outside the American Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, I had to undergo a hurried, five-minute questioning and deposit my passport.
At long last, ten days later, my passport was returned to me with a blue visa sticker in it and I knew – I was going to the US!
Getting from Zurich (I am originally from Switzerland and travelled from my family home directly to my year abroad) to Chapel Hill is no small feat. It takes fifteen hours, two car rides, two plane rides and a saintly amount of patience queuing for no fewer than six security checks.
After a ten-hour plane ride across the Atlantic, I caught the first glimpse of America after lining up and being interviewed by a Customs and Border Patrol agent in Newark, New Jersey. After turning a corner in the labyrinthine airport, I could see the Statue of Liberty and the One World Trade Center across the Hudson River in New York City.
From Newark, my journey continued to Raleigh-Durham Airport in North Carolina. In a very small plane flying through a very stormy Pennsylvania afternoon, I got a fabulous, albeit very shaky, view of both Atlantic City and Philadelphia from the air.
Finally, after a lengthy cab ride, I arrived in Chapel Hill.
View of Manhattan from the Plane
“The Southern Part of Heaven”
Chapel Hill is a town of 57,000 people located in the state of North Carolina, in the Southern United States. Suffice it to say, moving from London to here took some adjusting. For one thing, buses run only once every hour on weekends, and for another, there is no Costa Coffee.
Nevertheless, a short walk along Franklin Street, the heart of town, quickly made it clear that the town does live up to its motto: historic buildings and time-honoured businesses line the street from East to West, ranging from local legend He’s Not Here (a popular bar) and historic churches to sorority houses that seem fresh out of Legally Blonde.
The thing that most immediately stands out about Chapel Hill, however, are the people. Southern gentility is high currency in North Carolina, and Chapel Hill is no exception. Everyone is exceptionally polite and helpful, and I received extraordinary help from neighbours and fellow students when moving into my apartment and transporting my belongings without ever having to ask for help.
UNC-Chapel Hill’s Planetarium