Four years ago on a rainy Thursday night, I ventured off campus with a group of friends to attend something called ‘Pancake Night.’

I’ll never forget that night – at first feeling awkward and nervous as a group of us met outside of Morrison to wait for one of our upperclassmen friends to take us to this random house off campus coined ‘McMansion.’

It was during the first month of college and I had barely explored Chapel Hill – feeling overwhelmed with adjusting to classes, newfound independence and making friends.

After what seemed like forever, the pack of us turned into a sketchy looking gravel driveway and walked into the front door of a long brick house off of McCauley Street.

It was madness inside.

Tons of random people crammed into this old, funky house – laughing, yelling and talking over the music.

A crammed kitchen table filled with plates of different types of pancakes – everyone grabbing them and dousing them with syrup while they squeezed around each other in the sweaty hallway.

A group of girls stood in the kitchen with massive bowls of pancake batter – flipping hundreds of pancakes on griddles and the stove – fighting through the crowd – typically not even making it to the kitchen table before every pancake was taken off of the platter.

A picture from one of the first pancakes nights we ever went to freshman year!

That night made Carolina feel a little more like home – as I sat in this random living room surrounded with people I had never met, but who were excited I was there and asked me my name.

Walking back to HoJo that night I literally felt warm and fuzzy inside – I hadn’t been to a space at Carolina yet that truly felt like ‘home.’ Yes, I loved my dorm and the girls I lived with, but there was just something different about being back in a living room surrounded with people who cared.

Up until that point it had never hit me that UNC was actually going to become my home – that I was going to spend four years in this place.

After the fact, I learned that McMansion was a house full of girls, passed down throughout the years – and that pancake night had been a tradition present as long as the house had been lived in by these girls. The eight girls that lived there dedicated their time and money the last Thursday night of every month to open up their home to strangers and friends alike – using pancakes as a way to create community and a unique Thursday night.

Fast forward four years and I’m sitting in the upstairs kitchen in that very same house – writing down my thoughts before the madness of pancake night ensues.

Not in a million years would I have guessed that I would take part in this tradition. I didn’t ever plan on living here, but things worked out the way they did and I couldn’t be more thankful.

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