The Ultimate Guide to All Your Problems

So there you are, sitting on the precipice of deciding what do with your life next semester. Should you go abroad to somewhere exotic, stay in Chapel Hill because let’s face it, we’re all still trying to figure out if we’re even in the right major, or go to this “field site” in the same state you’re already going to school? Well, good news. Here’s the answer to all your questions. About the Outer Banks Field Site at least, which lets be honest is definitely the right way to go.

So I might be a little biased… But the information’s still pertinent!

What is this field site thing anyways?

Glad you asked! So the field site is literally a living classroom. You’ll take classes at the Coastal Studies Institute on Roanoke Island, conduct research around the Outer Banks, and actually be able to see the stuff you’re learning about. You’ll hear about this amazing environment in class and then be able to drive down the beach and say, “Hey, I know why I can hang out here on this really cool beach,” or, “I know how this whole island was made.” (Spoiler: It’s actually pretty freaking cool.) Being able to physically see and experience what you’re learning about is an experience 10 out of 10 would recommend. Plus, you’ll gain a whole new appreciation for a fairly narrow strip of sand.

So, lets get down to what’s really important. How close will I be to the beach?

Good news. From the house, you’re about 10, maybe 15 minutes away (depending on traffic) from a public access to the beach. All you have to do is jump on the highway and you can get to any place you want to go. Speaking of beaches, for those who haven’t been to the Outer Banks, this isn’t like your normal super hot, super uncomfortable beach. The water’s warm and clear, the weather’s wonderful, and the sand’s…well sand but it just feels better. And for anyone interested in surfing, you have access to a pretty large surfing culture with fairly decent waves for North Carolina. As for fishing, you’re on a barrier island. Literally walk 10 feet and you can cast in the water. Plus there are awesome fishing guides you can access as an enormous population of devoted fishermen and women who know the area.


Am I going to be out in the middle of nowhere or is there some civilization?

Bad news, the closest Wal-Mart is about 45 minutes away, as well as the Target if that’s your poison. But never fear, everything else you could want is within a half an hour drive tops. Two grocery stores are five minutes away driving (15 if you bike) from the house as well as a Food Lion and Harris Teeter 20 minutes away, which is pretty much the same distance at Chapel Hill. If you’re in need of souvenirs, just throw a rock and you’re bound to ping pong it off of about six different stores selling Outer Banks gear. Downtown Manteo is also within walking/biking distance and is a great place to hang out and grab a bite to eat. As for food, there’s everything from Japanese to Mexican and of course, all the seafood you can eat. For you vegetarians and vegans, there are a few places that serve veggie burgers. Oh and don’t even get me started on the number of ice cream shops… Two words: Booty Treats. Just trust me.


Is there stuff to do out there, or are you trapped doing homework all day?

That really just depends on what you’re interested in. Right now, students are involved in a local softball team, a chorus group, and a community garden project. There are tons of volunteer opportunities including the SPCA, local charities hosting fundraising events, and interest groups. For all you gym-goers, there’s the YMCA, small local gyms, and my personal favorite-the Outer Banks Sports Club. If there’s another niche you need filled, you have access to a huge resource pool of people there that will figure out how to fulfill your heart’s desire.

As for nightlife, you’ll have your pick of restaurants and bars hosting live music and a few places that boast karaoke (which always leads to hilarious stories). A few beaches allow bonfires and beach volleyball at night can get pretty intense. The nightlife isn’t as crazy as Chapel Hill, but the chill, relaxed vibe is still fun.


How’s the workload?

I’m not going to lie; you’re going to be busy pretty much all the time. But on the upside, it’s fulfilling and interesting work. The teacher’s all love what they teach, you’ll be doing interesting research, and you’re going to be working in an internship getting hands-on experience in what you’re passionate about. It’s pretty much a school related dream come true. The people here really care about helping you get the big picture and you’ll make relationships that will absolutely last into the future. Aside from all the sappy stuff, it’s just plain fun! Plus after class, you can go do homework on the beach, aka my newly found favorite way to do work.


How’s the housing arrangement?

The house is absolutely amazing and is close to pretty much everything you’ll need: classes, food, and the beach. There are only two rooms to a bathroom, lots of space for all your stuff (great news for the overpackers), and it’s not at all sketchy. There’s a huge back yard for cookouts, playing games, or just hanging out, common rooms with cable TV (score!), and a kitchen the has pretty much anything you’ll need. Also major perk, parking is included.


Is it going to cost me an arm and a leg to do this?

Absolutely not. The tuition is the same as if you were still attending UNC with a little extra added in for housing. The books aren’t excessive so the only thing you’ll have to worry about is food cost. Insider tip: you’ll be super tempted to eat out every day, but it can get pretty costly. I suggest cooking enough to have leftovers or get ready for a close and personal relationship with sandwiches.