10 Life Lessons College Students Can Learn from “Moana”

title credits for Moana movie

By now you should have seen the totally-worth-the-hype masterpiece that is Disney’s Moana — it came out in November, after all. But if you haven’t, that’s okay, because it’s coming to Netflix on June 20th. (You’re welcome 😉 ).

Like in any kids’ movie, there are a fair amount of life lessons sprinkled in with all the catchy musical numbers and comic relief scenes. But surprisingly, there are plenty of lessons that college students can take from this movie. Here are a few.

(WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead! It’s summer break, so just go see Moana. Rent it on Redbox. Borrow it from a friend. Do whatever you need to do to watch it. It’s worth it!)

1. It’s okay to want a different path than your parents envisioned.

Moana contemplating her destiny

College is where you figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life.

2. Tough situations show you where you need to go.

Moana staring at a giant wave

Failing a couple of courses may not be what you wanted, but how else would you have known you needed to change your major? (Speaking from experience here…)

3. Sometimes, you just gotta go for it.

Moana paddling her canoe

Take that art class. Talk to that person. Apply for that study abroad program. Carpe diem!

4. Of course, it’s gonna take some effort.

Moana having trouble sailing

College isn’t easy, so you have to put in the work to succeed. As another well-known Disney princess said, “The only way to get what you want in this world is through hard work.”

5. Buy an alarm clock.

Moana's chicken screaming

You can’t pass your 8 AM English class if you can’t wake up for it.

6. Buy some pencils, too.

Maui signing Moana's oar with Hei Hei's beak

Not everything is online in college. You’ll still have to complete tests by hand. (Don’t forget to buy a couple of Blue Books from the bookstore!)

7. If you don’t know something, find the answers for yourself.

Moana finds the hidden cave

You have endless resources at your disposal, especially when you go to NC State. If you’re looking for advice or information, just ask!

8. You’ll have to do stuff you don’t want to do.


Could be a group project, could be an internship, could be just talking to someone you don’t know. Jumping into the unknown is tough, but it’s worth it in the end.

9. But your friends always have your back.

Moana's friends on the island

Friends, family, neighbors, coworkers… there are plenty of people willing to help you succeed in college. Stick with them and you’ll be unstoppable!

10. You’ve totally got this.

Moana high-fiving the ocean

Taking 18 credit hours next semester? Tackling a gigantic Capstone project? Figuring out how to juggle a full course schedule, a part-time job, and a 30-minute drive to school? You can do anything you set your mind to. (This commuter guide can help!)

Have a great summer!

why we love north carolina

11 Reasons Why North Carolina is the Best State Ever

Whether you were born and raised here or just came here for school, you know there’s something special about living in North Carolina. But the Old North State isn’t just a great place to live. It’s the best. And here are just a few reasons why.

NCSUs iconic Belltower

1. Our Landmarks Sell Tons of Postcards

North Carolina is home to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Biltmore Estate, Downtown Raleigh, Asheville, dozens of waterfalls, and some beautiful college campuses (including NC State, of course!). The state tourism industry probably rakes in a lot of cash just from the postcards and t-shirts alone.

Cheerwine sign at Char-Grill

2. We Have Cheerwine

If you haven’t had this fizzy cherry-flavored soda, you’re missing out. This true North Carolina gem is only available in our state, and you can find it at places like Cookout and Char-Grill on tap. Cheerwine is made in Salisbury and it’s celebrating its 100th anniversary this year!

3. We Gave the World Pepsi (You’re Welcome, World)

Speaking of sodas that were made in North Carolina, this soft drink giant was born in a small pharmacy in New Bern in 1898. If you’re looking for Pepsi at NC State, though, there’s only one place on campus that sells the stuff: the 1911 Building snack bar.

sausage biscuit, fries, and sweet tea

4. Bojangles’ is a Thing Because of Us

Charlotte is home to the nation’s first Bojangles’, and North Carolina single-handedly supports the Southeastern fast food chain with more than 300 restaurants in our state alone. Good news if you live out of state: You’ll find Bojangles’ as far north as Reading, Pennsylvania.

5. We’re First in Flight

In 1903, the Wright brothers took flight with a little help from the dunes and wind at Kitty Hawk, and the rest is history. Sorry, Ohio. Y’all may be the “birthplace of innovation” since Orville Wright was born in Dayton, but we’re the actual birthplace of flight.

neon restaurant sign and menu

6. We Have Better Burgers Than California

California has In-N-Out Burger, which is great. But North Carolina has Char-Grill and Cookout, which are phenomenal.

Krispy Kreme in Raleigh

7. Krispy Kreme and Britt’s Donuts Were Born Here

Obviously, Krispy Kreme has a special place in your heart because it has its own race right here in Raleigh. But most of the United States doesn’t even know about Britt’s Donuts in Carolina Beach. Ah-mazing.

8. Our Barbecue is an Art Form

It’s the never-ending battle of East vs. West when it comes to barbecue in North Carolina. So which is your favorite?

basketball game at PNC Arena

9. We’re the Reason College Basketball is a Big Deal

In North Carolina, you’re practically considered a social pariah if you don’t create at least one bracket during March Madness. And with both UNC and Duke boasting several national championships and dominating the NCAA leader boards year after year, it’s clear that college basketball is more than just a sport in North Carolina.

10. The Beach and Mountains are Close By

In just 2 hours, you can be digging your toes in the sand and soaking up the sun. In just 4 hours, you can be hiking to North Carolina’s best waterfalls or exploring hidden gems like Mast General Store.

11. We Have Some World-Renowned Universities

UNC Chapel Hill was the first public university in the nation. Duke University is known for its medical program. And, of course, NC State is acclaimed for its science and engineering curriculum. So it’s no surprise that North Carolina’s schools are at the forefront of innovation.

Comment Below with Your Favorite Reason!

Obviously, there are countless other reasons why North Carolina is the best place to live and go to school. Do you agree with our list? Did we leave out your favorite reason? Let us know in the comments!

5 Restaurants You Need to Try in Mission Valley Before You Graduate

If you ran the Krispy Kreme Challenge this morning, you might not be feeling up for dinner anytime soon. (I mean, if you are, kudos. Not everyone can down a dozen donuts, run two and a half miles, and feel fine afterwards.) For everyone else, Mission Valley should be on your list of dinner destinations.

The Student Saver Restaurant Rankings

We already covered the best restaurants on Western Boulevard, so now it’s time to look at the ones in Mission Valley shopping center. If you’re unfamiliar with this side of campus, it’s on the corner of Western Boulevard and Avent Ferry Road, which is where the Mission Valley Cinema is. There are a few hidden gems, but these are our favorites.

TVs at Sammy's Bar & Grill

The College Bar with the Best Mascot: Sammy’s Tap & Grill

I mean, it has a shuttle bus called “The Wolf Wagon,” so you know it’s a State fan hangout. But if you also happen to cheer for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sammy’s will make you feel right at home.

mural on Cup-A-Joe building

The Coffee Shop Right Out of a ’90s Sitcom: Cup A Joe

Think Central Perk from Friends. Cup A Joe is the off-campus coffee shop of choice for studying, getting your caffeine fix, and hanging out late at night. (Okay, yes, this isn’t a restaurant per se, but it’s certainly a place you need to visit before you graduate. Cup A Joe does serve food, after all.)

hot dog restaurant near ncsu

The ’50s Diner That’s Authentic Without Even Trying: Cloos’ Coney Island

Sure, Cloos’ Coney Island has the vintage-style seats, checkered floors, and 1950s memorabilia hanging (or spraypainted) on the walls. But its laid-back vibe and friendly employees really seal the deal in this hole-in-the-wall diner hidden in Mission Valley.

The Mexican Restaurant That’s Good for Any Budget: El Cerro Bar & Grill

There are a surprising number of Tex-Mex places around NC State: Gonza Tacos Y Tequila, Chipotle, La Rancherita, Wicked Taco… El Cerro, though, is the right balance of budget-friendly dining with an awesome food and drink menu. The ACP, fajitas, and chimi cheesecake are popular dishes. (Student discount: 10% off your bill.)

waffle house restaurant at night

Hands Down the Best Place to Eat If You’re Craving Breakfast at 3 AM: Waffle House

What’s not to love about a breakfast diner that’s open 24/7? The Waffle House near State is tucked away beside Schoolkid Records on the far side of the shopping center, and the decor is excellent. There’s even a jukebox.

Want to Try Even More Restaurants? Get the Guide

Mission Valley has its share of best-kept secrets. You can find everything from Ethiopian cuisine to good ol’ fashioned wings on the same strip, so you’re bound to find your favorite restaurant here. Need a full list of places to eat at Mission Valley? Check it out in the commuter guide.

things to do before graduation

10 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before Graduating

Where’d those four (or five) years go? It was just yesterday you were walking around campus with a paper map and trying desperately to figure out where your classes were — right?! Class of 2017, you know what’s up. You’ve seen Hillsborough Street transform, watched Harrelson Hall reduced to a giant hole in the ground, and survived several snowmageddons unscathed.

In just a few months, you’ll pack into PNC Arena with your friends, turn your tassel, and sing the Alma Mater for the last time as an undergrad — better make the most of it! Here’s what you need to do before commencement on May 13th.

Mitch's Tavern sign

10. Eat at the Oldest Restaurants Near Campus

If you haven’t already tried all the restaurants around campus already, don’t feel bad. You at least need to eat at the campus icons that alumni from decades ago know and love.

Amedeo’s has been a landmark on Western Boulevard since 1963, known for everything from its amazing Italian food to impressive NC State decor. Absolutely every square inch of wall space is taken up by memorabilia and framed photos of college athletes. (Student specials: 50% off an entree on Tuesdays after 4 PM. Bring your student ID.)

Mitch’s Tavern is another staple of campus life. It’s been on Hillsborough Street since the 1970s (and before that, it was a nightclub called The Jolly Knave). People love this place. Except for the London Broil, all of the menu items are less than $7. Seriously.

Player’s Retreat is a timeless sports bar that has stuck around since 1951, and it has been featured in Our State magazine, voted #3 Best Bar in Raleigh, and named “Best Place to People-Watch.” It’s tucked away off the Belltower roundabout on Oberlin Road.

panoramic view of PNC Arena during an NC State vs. UNC basketball game

9. Go to at Least One Rivalry Game

It doesn’t matter if it’s football, basketball, volleyball, or hockey. Scream the lines of “Red and White” with pride as NC State takes on UNC in any and every sport.

8. Attempt the Krispy Kreme Challenge

Compete (or just walk) for a good cause at this unique Raleigh tradition. This year’s race is on February 4th; you can register for the Krispy Kreme Challenge here.

graffiti in free expression tunnel

7. Paint the Tunnel

Leave your mark (and indulge your inner rebel) on the paint-caked walls of the Free Expression Tunnel. Bonus points if your graffiti lasts more than 24 hours.

6. Memorize the Lyrics to the Fight Song

Yep, the Fight Song actually has words. Next time you go to a basketball game, memorize the lyrics and sing along with the cheerleaders and pep band:

Shout aloud to the men who will play the game to win

We’re behind you, keep fighting for State

Hold that line, hold them fast, we’ll reach victory at last

We’re behind you, keep fighting for State

Rise up to the fray and let your colors wave

Shout out for dear old NC State (Go State!)

For where e’er we go, we’ll let the whole world know

We’re behind you, keep fighting for State

video game room in DH Hill

5. Pull an All-Nighter at DH Hill

You’ll need snacks, plenty of Netflix breaks, and a pressing deadline. (And if you haven’t pulled an all-nighter at the library, are you even an NC State student?)

4. Wear Pink to the Play 4 Kay Game

Support friends, family, and neighbors who are cancer survivors at the Play 4 Kay game (formerly known as the Hoops 4 Hope game). This year, the women’s basketball team takes on Wake Forest on Sunday, February 19th.

3. Visit the NC State Farmers’ Market

Nope, not the one on the Brickyard, the other one. The State Farmers’ Market is off Lake Wheeler Road and open every day until 6 PM. You can get everything from fresh fruits to handmade soaps here.

exterior of NC State library

2. Explore Hunt Library (If You Haven’t Already)

Hunt Library is so cool it’s made it in Our State magazine and in SF Gate‘s list of the “most spectacular libraries in the world.” Watch the BookBot go fetch, try out all the cool chairs, take a picture of Lake Raleigh from the terrace, and finish your self-guided tour with Howling Cow ice cream.

1. Take Graduation Photos by the Belltower

Sure, everyone does it. But that’s what makes a Belltower graduation shot so special. Don your cap and gown, throw up a wolf sign, and snap a photo for Instagram.

Stay Connected Even After Graduation

What’s the phrase, “NC State will always be there to welcome you home”? Okay, maybe it’s a quote from J.K. Rowling, but it still applies. Even after you graduate in May, you can always come back and visit your favorite places, take photos by all the landmarks, and keep up with what’s happening on campus. (Follow us, we’ll keep you updated!)

freak out it's snowing

5 Reasons Why Our Snow Storm Freak-Out is Totally Justified

The bread and milk has vanished from grocery stores shelves, the Glenwood Avenue car fire picture has made its rounds (again), and everyone’s freaking out about the forecast. If you’re not from around here, you’re probably thinking that we North Carolinians are wimps when it comes to snow. Puh-lease, it snows half an inch and classes are cancelled for a week — what gives?

Yes, Raleigh practically shuts down when it snows. Yes, public schools stay closed even after the snow has melted. And yes, bread and milk fly from store shelves like brand new iPhones. But there’s a perfectly good reason for our freak-out. Five reasons, actually.

view of Raleigh skyline from NCSU library
This is what a typical winter day looks like in Raleigh. Not a flake of snow in sight.

1. We Don’t Get a Lot of Snow

We’re in the South, so snow’s a foreign concept to us. Our average snowfall is 6 inches a year, compared with 124 inches in Syracuse, 57 inches in Denver, and 43 inches in Detroit. Our biggest snowfall ever was 20 inches in the year 2000, although Mount Mitchell claims North Carolina’s biggest snow day at 29 inches in 2001. (That’s small potatoes compared with Colorado’s 63-inch blizzard in 1913.)

2. Our Snow Removal Budget is Teeny Tiny

$70 million (yep, that’s NCDOT’s snow prep budget) sounds like a lot, but that covers the whole state for the year — mountains included. We don’t have the latest fancy snow removal tech, either, like New York’s “tow plows” or Michigan’s snow plow tracking devices. (Or one of those cool snow melters.)

3. NYC Has More Plows Than Our Entire State

North Carolina has 1,900 trucks. New York City (yes, just the city) has more than 2,500. There’s no way our small fleet of snow plows can clear all the roads in a day.

4. Snow Tires are Just Impractical

You’d use them for a few days in January, maybe a day in February. The other 360 days of the year, your snow tires would sit in storage collecting dust. The same goes with studded tires and tire chains. It’s just not worth the time or effort to buy winter tires, change them out with your regular tires, and change them again just a few days later.

snow at nc state university

5. We Get Lots and Lots of Ice

Here’s what usually happens during a Raleigh “snowmageddon”: The snow falls, the weather heats up, the snow melts, and everything freezes again. When the roads freeze over, we kind of panic. We’re actually encouraged to stay home from work and stay off the roads. (Here’s what happened in 2005 when Raleigh was encased in inches of ice.)

Stay Safe Out There, Y’all

Seriously, though, stay safe during the snow storm. Bundle up, stay off the roads, drink plenty of hot chocolate, and don’t feel guilty about binge-watching Netflix all weekend.

What are your favorite snowmageddon memes? Leave ’em below in the comments!

annotated history textbook

Top 5 Exam Study Spaces at NC State University

You’ve planned out the perfect study schedule. As soon as you get back from Thanksgiving Break, you’re going to hit the books hard. You’ve stocked up on snacks, added 20-minute shows to your Netflix queue, and created a detailed exam study schedule with all your naps included. Then you’re going to spend all day at DH Hill Library!

Actually, that’s a terrible idea — going to DH Hill, that is. Studying at the library is a no-no during exams because that’s the same idea everyone else has.

Now like any quick-thinking college student (you do go to NC State, after all), you need to improvise. You need somewhere that’s quiet, has a great ratio of electric sockets to seats, and has convenient parking (or at least is a short walk from the Wolfline). So stop avoiding Organic Chemistry and use this cheat sheet for the best study spaces instead.

mural on Cup-A-Joe building

5. Coffee Shops on Hillsborough Street

Noise Level: 2 | Outlet Access: 2 | Snack Access: 4

Take your pick from Liquid State, Reverie (which, unfortunately, is likely closing at the end of November), Cup-A-Joe, and Global Village. You can get your caffeine fix and enjoy the cool vibe that most coffee shops have.

Access to outlets can be an issue, though. Liquid State, especially, has very few outlets, so you’ll have to scout out your ideal table early in the day. If you don’t need a computer to study, you have nothing to worry about.

nc state's poe hall

4. Poe Hall, 2nd floor

Noise Level: 1 | Outlet Access: 3 | Snack Access: 2

Poe Hall has a few places to study, two of which are on the second floor. These lounges have plenty of tables, a few couches, and a fair number of outlets. While the study lounges are crowded during classes, they should be somewhat vacant during exams.

You won’t have easy access to snacks in Poe, though. There are a few vending machines on the ground floor, but they’re just far enough away that you’ll have to pack all your stuff up every time you need a snack break. You definitely wouldn’t be able to watch your belongings from the snack machines.

college math homework

3. Witherspoon Student Center, 2nd floor

Noise Level: 1 | Outlet Access: 4 | Snack Access: 3

Like Poe Hall, Witherspoon has several lounges that are perfect for studying. Since the building only fills up during movie nights, you’re almost guaranteed peace and quiet. Snacks are more easily accessible in Witherspoon, too; there are a few vending machines on the first floor, and they’re visible from a ground-floor lounge.

empty college lecture hall

2. An Empty Classroom Anywhere

Noise Level: 1 | Outlet Access: 4 | Snack Access: 1

Many ingenious NC State students skip the library and study in empty lecture halls, which have plenty of outlets and much-needed peace and quiet. The only downside to using a classroom is trying to find one that will be vacant for a few hours. You may need to scout out several classrooms before you find one that’s perfect.

talley student center study spots

1. Talley Student Center, Literally Anywhere

Noise: 3 | Outlets: 5 | Snacks: 5

The “new” Talley Student Center was built for studying. There are multiple study lounges on its five floors, ranging from two-seat tables near One Earth to group study rooms. (And the chairs are phenomenal.) Plus, you can stay in Talley all day to study since the restaurants there take All Campus cards.

The noise level varies. You’re more likely to find spaces with ambient background noise than perfectly peaceful study lounges, but if you look in all the nooks and crannies, you’re sure to find a corner that’s quiet.

Be the Ultimate NC State Resource!

Being a full-time student is hard enough. If you’re a commuter student, you have to juggle good grades and a social life and make sure you have enough money for Cookout. Get the commuter student’s ultimate cheat sheet: the NC State student commuter guide.

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crane over The Alley

Is Hillsborough Street Dead?

mural in The AlleyWe’re all shocked that The Alley is closing next month. Though The Alley itself has only been here since 2008 (it had been Western Lanes since the 1960s, and before that it had been ManMur Bowling Center since 1939), the building has been a Hillsborough Street landmark since 1960.

But it’s just one of many iconic businesses that have come and gone since Hillsborough Street’s revitalization.

Hillsborough Street is NC State’s unofficial Main Street. Hole-in-the-wall places used to line the street from Meredith College to the Belltower. These places weren’t flashy; they didn’t need to impress anyone. College students and long-time Raleigh residents would make a day of visiting the dimly lit dive bars and family-owned restaurants. But all that’s changed.

Luxury Apartments Have Replaced Local Landmarks

There was The Brewery, a music venue for up-and-coming artists, where Raleigh locals saw now-famous names like Sheryl Crow, Hootie and the Blowfish, Paramore, All Time Low, and Panic! At The Disco — demolished in August 2011. Stanhope has taken its place.

hotel on Hillsborough Street
The Aloft hotel on Hillsborough Street

There was Sadlack’s Heroes, a sandwich shop by day and bar by night, filled at any given moment with long-time regulars — demolished in May 2014. Its neighbors, Buddha’s Belly, Bell Tower Mart, and Schoolkid Records, were also torn down. The Aloft hotel has taken their place.

Sylvia’s Pizza closed in 2010, replaced by Hot Box Pizza. But even that place closed, too. The building has since been demolished and replaced with 2304 Hillsborough, a new apartment building under construction since August 2015. Only a PokéStop immortalizes the former pizza place.

All of the new apartments have taken the place of old college landmarks: Hillsborough Lofts replaced The Keg and Two Guys Pizza, 2811 Hillsborough replaced Sakura (remember the pink barn?), Stanhope replaced Time Out Restaurant and Katmandu…

Where’s the Character of Hillsborough Street?

Look at the comments section of any new Hillsborough Street development story and you’ll see people’s disappointment, frustration, and bitterness. Even Movoto says that the street has lost something important:

Now Hillsborough Street is a bit of a traffic maze with a mish-mash of various businesses – not all bringing character and uniqueness.

modern facade of apartment building
2811 Hillsborough

While the Aloft hotel and Stanhope went with an NC State-inspired brick exterior, other apartments — namely 1301 Hillsborough, 2604 Hillsborough, and 2811 Hillsborough — stand out with their ultra-modern, sleek facades.

The restaurants are changing, too. The new ones, including H-Street Kitchen and Gonza Tacos Y Tequila, are not cheap eats catering to broke college students, but are instead fine dining establishments worth two dollar signs on Yelp.

Is All This Demolition Making Way for Something Better?

You can’t deny that recent Hillsborough Street improvements have made the street’s walkability a little better. The CVS and (should it indeed take the place of The Alley) the future Target make grocery shopping incredibly convenient for students who live on or close to Hillsborough Street.

The addition of new restaurants underneath new apartment buildings — Stanhope, for instance, has Pieology, IHOP, and Smoothie King — make the area much more of an any-time-of-day destination.

restaurants under apartments
Stanhope and its collection of ground-floor restaurants

Plus, the roundabouts that are coming with Phase II of Hillsborough Street’s revitalization are making the area safer for pedestrians and bikers (and hopefully reducing the awful rush hour traffic).

This College Street is Now a Raleigh Destination

A historic marker for the old NC State Fairgrounds
A historic marker for the old NC State Fairgrounds

The Hillsborough Street area has a long history as an up-and-coming place to be. Tracing its beginnings all the way back to 1792, the street has seen many local icons come and go, namely:

  • North Carolina State Fair: The fairgrounds were located across from NC State from 1873 to 1925, when the fairgrounds moved to the current location at Hillsborough Street and Blue Ridge Road.
  • Varsity Theater: The movie theater was open from 1940 to the 1980s, when it went through times as an X-rated theater, McDonald’s, bookstore, and now H-Street Kitchen.
  • Rathskeller: “The Rat” closed after a few decades in the early 2000s, when it became Porter’s City Tavern, then McDaid’s, which closed in January 2016.
  • College Grill: This college hangout operated from the 1940s to the 1970s. According to Goodnight Raleigh readers, it was located in the now-abandoned bar under Mitch’s Tavern.
  • Edward’s Grocery: This bar/grocery store closed in 1980, like many of the establishments in “Hillsborough Square” (where Liquid State, David’s Dumpling & Noodle Bar, and soon-to-be-built Studio 1912 are located).

Hillsborough Street has become a destination as more and more people attend NC State and move to Raleigh. The Hillsborough Street Renewal Project, which began in 2009, is turning the once-college-student-only hangout into a place to live, work, and play.

What Do You Think? Is Hillsborough Street Dead?

Is the street sacrificing its character to attract more than just college students? Is this area finally getting the attention (and development) it deserves? Or do you have mixed feelings about all the lost icons and brand new features?

Share this post with your friends and leave your memories of NC State’s old haunts in the comments.

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