Craig and I have lived in 5 countries around the world and now find ourselves living our expat life in Raleigh, North Carolina. We lived here in 2004-2006 and then decided to return back here 18 months ago. When I first heard that I was being placed here with my teaching position I was really disappointed. I’d never heard of the place, well actually I had, I knew Clay Aiken from American Idol was from here. That added even more to my disappointment and I thought I was going to Hicksville!
Well, guess what I’m still here!! Raleigh turned out to be a pleasant surprise and we’ve enjoyed our Southern life here. It’s all about your attitude and how you choose to go out and live the life of the locals. You have to get amongst it and find out what makes the place tick. As Craig and I are experts on expat living overseas in other countries, we’re going to be posting weekly about our expat life here in Raleigh. Not only that sharing our thoughts tips and strategies about expat living overseas in general and working holiday experiences.
Today’s topic on expat life in Raleigh is very fitting as it ties in with last nights NCAA basketball championship match. That is the men’s college basketball, national championship event that happens every year in March. It’s otherwise known as March madness, it goes for 2 weeks and yes it is full of March madness.The whole nation gets behind it and it’s even bigger than the NBA.
It is impossible to live in Raleigh without becoming a fan of college basketball. Actually I think you would be deported from the area if you didn’t follow one of the many teams here and support them avidly. I never thought in a million years I would be interested in it and that is the beauty of experiencing life in another country. You get to learn about, appreciate and even love things that you never knew about before. And I love college basketball.
Carolina basketball is hot. We have at least 4 strong basketball colleges in the area. The best, of course, being UNC Chapel Hill. University of North Carolina or the “Tar Heel”s was the place where Micheal Jordan played college. Team Makepeace have developed a cult following for them; we have all the paraphernalia and attend games whenever we can or if not watch it on the TV. Our time here has seen UNC win two, yes that’s right , two national championships. You haven’t seen a victory party until you have been on Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, spilling out of the Carolina blue bars and jumping over street bonfires kept aflame by t-shirts and torn down signs and whatever else you can thrown in there. It’s an insane party. Twice we’ve been now cheering wildly at the bars, jumping over the fires and the crashing frat parties afterward. Craig’s sister and boyfriend were visiting during the March madness celebrations and they were swept up in the frenzyand are now huge fans of the Tar Heels!!
8 miles down the road, however live our biggest rivals the Duke Blue Devils. And last night we had to sit and watch in terryifying pain as they won the championship by a basket. They played Butler, a team nobody had heard of, who rose from obscurity to play with courage and heart to just fall short right on the final buzzer. It was a brilliant game and of course I was cheering for Butler all the way. There is an unwritten rule in the Triangle (the area that makes up the Raleigh-Durham region) that you go for your chosen team and then for whoever is playing your arch enemy. You never cross over the line, even though we’re only 8 miles apart.
Basketball fever was on again last night and this time the fires were being jumped over on Duke’s campus (copiers!) If you come to live in this area of the world you better get used to college basketball. And why not? It’s fun, it’s passionate, it’s full of good cheer and the party spirit. It’s one of my favorite pieces of living my expat life in North Carolina and I look forward to March Madness every year. When you are an expat living in anther country you’ve got to take on the cultural fun of the place you are living it. It will enrich your life all the more and create a more meaning full expat life for you.