Southern Hospitality

Exhausted.  That’s us this morning.  Any ideas about running, cycling, or even just packing up our stuff and checking out of the hotel were almost beyond our imaginations.  All we managed to do was the packing and checking out before heading to Zada Jane’s in Charlotte for a delicious and very late vegan breakfast.  We used the Magical Garmin once again to find University of North Carolina at Charlotte and arrived in time to try and get on the wait list for a general tour before our scheduled 1 p.m. tour with the School of Architecture at UNCC.

We found visitor parking and began a long walk through the lovely campus, trying to follow the instructions given to us by the head of admissions at the School of Architecture.  The weather forecast had predicted rain for the day, and in our lady-like skirts and pumps (Savannah) and sandals (me), we toted umbrellas as we hiked across what felt like miles of brick pathways and up countless sets of outdoor stairways, asking one stranger then another how to find our way.  Everyone we asked eagerly directed us and eventually we found our way to the admissions office.

Once in the building, we found the place to sign up for the campus tour waiting list.  As Savannah carefully filled out her information, the woman at the desk asked us questions about Savannah’s interest in the school.  She recommended we speak directly with the admissions director, then attend our 1:00 tour in architecture, and finally, take a self-guided tour through the campus.  We nodded in agreement and moments later were ushered into a luxurious office and spoke at length with the director about what the school had to offer Savannah, including the likelihood of a four year merit scholarship, based on her transcripts and standardized test scores.  Lisa made us feel so welcome that I was ready for Savannah to make this school her first choice before we had even looked at the department she is most interested in.  After almost an hour of chatting and learning about the school, we left to attend our tour.

The head of the admissions department for the School of Architecture, Redeena, led us through the building herself, excited to not be under any time constraints.  She showed us the design labs, the cutting-edge light lab, the presentation hall, the classrooms, and even cornered a professor to take us through the production studios and show us all of the equipment available to the students.  We saw students at work in design labs, students giving critique-based presentations, samples of end-of-semester projects.  She personally spent almost two hours with us and we finally had to break the spell of the enchanting tour to find some lunch (it was 3:30 already!) and head out to our next destination, Clemson, SC.

We ate in the student union before we left, checking to see if there were regular, viable vegan options and discovered delicious choices.  We sampled several different meals, sharing back and forth and discussing the requirements for the architecture program.  The school seemed to lean far more toward art and much less toward technology, but the program and building were enticing enough to keep the school on the list of possibilities.

It did not take us nearly as long to find where we parked as it did to find the admissions office.  As we headed up the final stairway to the car, we both found it hard to believe that this school has an undergraduate population of 25,000 students.  Although the campus was large, it had the feel of a much smaller school.  The students we passed and asked for help were all friendly and kind, some even leading us directly to the places we sought.  Everyone addressed us as “Miss”, or “Ma’am”, and held doors for us.  It was a bit surreal, coming from a place where most people walk right by without acknowledging us at all.  And, it’s warm.  So far, the south is looking pretty good.

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