By Haley Hill and Laura Bulmer
When we were applying to genetic counseling programs, something that was important to us was learning more about the place we would be living for the next two years. Of course, finding a program that fits best with your needs is a priority, but feeling at home where your program is located is also necessary for personal growth and a well-rounded learning environment. And you never know, maybe you’ll end up deciding to live there after graduation (like Haley)! Everyone is different and we all have different preferences, but some of the most common questions we hear from prospective students are 1) How big is the city?; 2) Are there fun things to do?; and 3) What is the cost of living? To hopefully help answer some of those questions, here are some of the things we’ve learned since moving to Greensboro:
I’m the type of person to always trust my gut, so when starting interviews, I decided not to make a long list of pros and cons about the cities I was visiting, but instead try to gauge how the place made me feel. I wanted to be somewhere that felt welcoming, familiar, and ultimately like somewhere I could feel at home. Before coming to Greensboro, I lived in Knoxville, TN for five years, and I loved the small city with a community feel type of vibe there. I have never liked big cities, but I also don’t like being bored on the weekends, so cities like Knoxville are my favorite. When I came to Greensboro for the first time, I went downtown to dinner with the current students, and I instantly got that same feeling. Not too big of a city, but a cute downtown area with plenty of things to do on the weekends. My favorite! That gut feeling ended up at the top of my “pro” list when ranking programs a few months later.
What added to that feeling was what surrounds Greensboro. There are so many fun cities, like Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and Chapel Hill all within a reasonable driving distance from Greensboro, but more importantly to me is how close it is to the mountains and the beach. Greensboro is right in the middle of the state, with the mountains two hours west and the beach three hours east. Being from Knoxville on the other side of the mountains, I was thrilled! Hiking and being in the mountains are my version of self-care, so being so close to some amazing hiking trails was a huge bonus to that gut feeling. For those of you who love hikes, Linville Gorge is two hours away, Pilot Mountain is less than an hour away, and Hanging Rock is about an hour away, and those are just three options. Asheville is less than three hours away, making it the perfect weekend vacation full of hikes, mountains, and breweries. Having so many fantastic outdoor adventure possibilities around me at all times keeps my to-do list long and makes me one happy genetic counseling student!
Since moving to Greensboro about a year ago, I have not been let down by that initial gut feeling. There are trees everywhere, and in the summer the entire city is vibrant green (maybe that’s where it got its name). On a more logistical note, the cost of living is very reasonable, there is hardly ever any traffic, and I have always been able to find a parking spot wherever I go. Overall, I have loved living in Greensboro. My outdoor heart is able to stay fulfilled without having to ignore my school responsibilities, and some really awesome bars and breweries are right down the street from me if I need to relieve some stress with friends. The city where you’ll live for two years may seem less important than the program you attend, but I think being comfortable where you are can make all the difference in your overall experience. For me, I’m just happy I trusted my gut and I feel like I am right where I’m supposed to be.
When I was thinking about applying to grad school, I took a road trip to some of the cities that housed genetic counseling programs. I had never lived anywhere aside from Massachusetts, so it was important to me that I felt comfortable in a place that I was going to uproot my life to. Out of the three cities I visited, Greensboro was the one I immediately felt most comfortable in.
As Laura said above, Greensboro is big enough to qualify as a city but has a much smaller feel. The people in Greensboro and North Carolina as a whole are incredibly friendly and welcoming. If you are interested in meeting people outside the genetic counseling program, rest assured knowing that you can strike up a conversation with a random person and they will not judge you or rudely avoid you like I was used to up North. My fiancé was nervous about making friends here, but we were lucky enough to meet a wonderful crew of people who welcomed us with open arms and who we now spend much of our time with. There are also a lot of transplants from various states around the US in Greensboro and in the Research Triangle area. My fiancé and I have met many people from New England – in fact, there is a New England Patriots bar in downtown Greensboro that we like to watch games at where we meet a lot of people from our hometown areas! I have been so pleasantly surprised with how much of a small-town feel Greensboro has and how easily creating a new network of friends has been thus far.
With that being said, Greensboro is not lacking in things to do during your free time!
Just some of the things that Greensboro has to offer includes amazing restaurants, cute local shops, breweries/bars, a baseball park, and a renowned science center. As the name suggests, Greensboro is very green, and there are several amazing parks/gardens to take a stroll or run through as well as a large bike path that goes throughout the city. The city is very dog-friendly; in fact, myself and many of my classmates have adopted pups after moving here. There are also frequent farmers markets which I love hitting up to get local goods from around the state. If you’re a sports fan, you will not be disappointed here – there are several college football and basketball teams that have huge fan bases around North Carolina, the Greensboro Grasshoppers are a minor league baseball team housed right here in our city, and there are professional sports teams such as the Carolina Panthers (football) and Carolina Hurricanes (hockey). My fiancé is an avid golfer, and I am told that the golf courses here are top notch. As Laura mentioned, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and be active too. There are mountains to hike at nearby and the ocean is only a few hours away. There really is something for everyone here.
One of my favorite things to do is to go on Facebook and look at the nearby events that are occurring each month. Through doing that, I have been to events like food truck festivals, free beer and wine tastings, flea markets, dessert markets, and craft fairs. These events have allowed me to explore other cities around North Carolina which has been an absolute blast. I especially love Winston-Salem, and often spend a day there getting brunch, hopping around their several amazing breweries, and shopping at record stores and Trader Joe’s. The triad area constantly hosts events that are bound to catch your interest, so there is no excuse to be bored around here.
If you’re like me, you may be reading this and thinking that all of this sounds great, but still be worried about the cost of living. This was a major concern for me, because I had to work two jobs while in school in Boston just to be able to afford to pay my rent and live my life. I can reassure you that living in Greensboro is extremely affordable. From rent, to gas, to dinner and drinks, finances in Greensboro are very manageable. This was a huge relief for me coming from a place where I struggled to get by day to day.
Overall, I could not be happier with my time here in Greensboro. My fiancé and I recently bought a house here, meaning we are here to stay for quite some time. Although I do miss my friends and family back in Massachusetts, my experience here has been so positive that we want to make Greensboro our permanent home. I can’t wait to see what else life here has in store for me!