North Carolina

Map of NC
Map of NC

North Carolina (NC) is an East Cost State that belongs to the Southern States (it shares the latitudes of Gibraltar and Rabat), so we enjoy hot and humid summers and really moderate winters. It streches from the Atlantic to the Blue Ridge Mountains (highest elevation Mt Mitchell, 2039 m), is about 3 times the area of Switzerland and has only a slightly higher population, around 8 milion people.

The capitol of NC is Raleigh, a 30 min drive from Chapel Hill and part of our Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill). The Triangle Area has a population of about 1.5 million, hosts 3 major universities (N.C. State, Duke and UNC)? and the Research Triangle Park full of Biotech and IT companies. But the largest city is Charlotte in the south, which counts 2 million people in its metropolitan area, and is also the heart of motorsport, especially NASCAR.

You cannot live in North Carolina without referring to the name Tar Heel. It is a nickname for the state, all its inhabitant and the athletic teams of UNC, and the legend claims its origin to the state's production of tar and the American Civil War.

Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill is in Central North Carolina or Piedmont, about the same distance from the sea than from the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is the smallest of the Triangle towns, with about 55'000 people including the students. Its center consists of the many buildings of UNC (by the way the oldest public university of the U.S., founded in 1789) and Franklin Street, named after Benjamin Franklin. There is a small historic district with many old-style houses and a football stadium, the home of the college football team of UNC. And that's it :-)!

We live south of Chapel Hill in Chatham County and allowed ourself the luxury of a nice house. When in Switzerland would you have the chance to live in a real house, away from the streets and other annoying things like the railway (remember Nussbaumen), mainly surrounded by woods full of squirrels and deer ? Nevertheless, we are in proximity of shopping possibilities and the Park & Ride that brings us everyday right to our work.
That this is a good area to live was also discovered by many developers, and Chatham County is currently the most-growing county of North Carolina. In fact, in several years, our lovely neighborhood will be enclosed by new huge communities, shopping centers, movie theaters and schools.

The Universities of North Carolina

In North Carolina, 16 public universities form the University of North Carolina System. About 183'000 students are enrolled, and they pay some of the lowest tuition rates in the U.S. All universities can use the abbreviation UNC, but generally it refers to the one in Chapel Hill, the oldest one and home of the administration. Chapel Hill is highly regarded for the School of Information and Library Science, the School of Public Health, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Analytical Chemistry program, and the Business School.

The other flagship is the North Carolina State University in Raleigh, the largest one and highly recognized for Science and Technology.

In Durham, the private Duke university was established in 1924 by James B. Duke. A large number of major programms are offered, research is highly recognized, and Duke generally gets high rankings in universities survey, but the tuitions at Duke are higher than my annual salary. There is a deep and amusing rivality between UNC and Duke, about the first thing you learn after you arrived...