The One Thing I Had to Bring to College

In bins, bags, and boxes, students carry items to Chapel Hill that keep their families and histories close.

For these Tar Heels, a little piece of home is anything from a canvas print to a daily ritual, each item representing students’ unique stories and traditions for a campus rich with diversity.

Laurel with framed postcards

Framed Postcards

“I framed postcards from my favorite places and hung it my bedroom. It’s a reminder of my favorite adventures and keeps me motivated to do well in school so that I can travel more in the future!”

Laurel Jennings, UNC ’26

Hendersoville, NC



My Teddy Bear (Sammy Jr.).

“I do not care what other people say. There is nothing wrong with bringing stuffed animals with you to college. Sammy Jr. reminds me of home and helps me keep my head clear and focused on what I am here to do! So yes, BRING YOUR STUFFED ANIMALS!!”

Sam Perry, UNC ’26

Perkasie, PA




Soniia with sunflower pin and letter

My Sunflower Pin and Family Letter

“I always keep my sunflower pin — a symbol of my home country — on my backpack. I also brought a letter that my family gave to me before I came here. This letter inspires me because my family tells me how they believe in me so I believe in myself too.”

Sofiia Khalik, UNC ’26

kryvyi rih, ukraine

My Boston Celtics Blanket

“My aunt made it for me when I was four. It’s a reminder of my childhood, my maternal family, and growing up in Cape Cod. And it’s cozy.”

Charles MCCain, UNC ’27

Chapel Hill, NC



My (Fake) Plants

“My dorm would not be my dorm without my fake plants. In my space back home in Florida, I have many plants and vines hanging from my ceiling and draped along my walls, so, when it came time to move to UNC, I had to bring some with me to college. Not only do they remind me of home, they provide me with a calm, relaxing atmosphere.”

Elisabeth Cáceres, UNC ‘26

tampa, fl

My Canvas Prints

“I have canvas prints of my three favorite albums of all time. They’ve been on my wall at home for years and represent so much of my personality and childhood that I had to bring that little piece of home with me.”

Levi Mellin, UNC ‘25

st. paul, mn

My Family’s Tradition of Rose, Bud, Thorn

“Each night at dinner, my family would share positive moments (Rose), acknowledged challenges (Thorn), and aspirations with hope (Bud). It’s now something I do with my roommates and it’s how we check in with each other at the end of the day.”

Raven Heyward, UNC ‘26

raleigh, NC

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