A Triangle of Opportunity
If you're a college basketball fan, you probably already know all about the Raleigh/Durham area.
Nicknamed "Tobacco Road," it's home to two of the biggest names in NCAA basketball - Duke University and North Carolina State University. But there's much more to this area than hoops.
The Raleigh/Durham area is a center for those in the academic, medical and technology fields.
Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, and Durham, its smaller neighbor to the west, bookend another area along Interstate 40 (which links the two cities) called Research Triangle Park. Forming the Triangle, these three cities boast some of the country's best technological, medical and academic facilities in the nation.
Durham is a major center for medical treatment and research as the home of Duke University Medical Center. Research Triangle Park (RTP) is also home to a number of leading technological and pharmaceutical companies including Red Hat, SAS and GlaxoSmith Kline. Raleigh is a center of state government and academia, with the North Carolina State Legislature as well as five universities in residence: NC State University, Shaw University, Meredith College, Peace College and St. Augustine's College.
Thousands of young professionals live here - so many that the Raleigh/Durham area is consistently ranked in the top 40 best cities for singles according to Forbes.com (number 6 in the most recent list).
One of the most important things you should bring to the Raleigh/Durham area is a car. Connected by I-40, Raleigh and Durham are sprawling areas most easily accessed by automobile. Raleigh is surrounded by I-440, also known as the beltline, while Durham has a similar thoroughfare known as the Durham Freeway. These roads, with exits to both cities' downtowns and major neighborhoods, make Raleigh and Durham easy to navigate.
Public transportation is also available in the form of three bus lines: CAT (Capital Area Transportation) in Raleigh, DATA (Durham Area Transportation Authority) in Durham and TTA (Triangle Transit Authority), which travels between both cities. All the buses charge a nominal fee ($1-$2.50 per ride).
North Carolina's Triangle (area of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) is fairly sprawling, and there are many "southernisms" to pick up while you're there. As it's part of the southeast region, many of the expressions used in places like Atlanta, Mobile, Jackson and Columbia also apply there.
It may seem uncivilized, but if someone asks you to mash the button in the elevator, they just mean for you to push it. If you don't know that, you might be in for a hasslin' (which is to say, they might give you a bit of a hard time!).
If you're fixin' to go shopping, the correct term for a shopping cart in Raleigh is a buggy. Of course, they might not have shopping carts if you're at a high-falutin' kind of store. Locals use this adjective to describe something as snobby.
If you're thirsty and ask for tea, be prepared for sweet tea. To the unfamiliar, this can be like drinking syrup, but to natives it's a delicious nectar, just like grandma used to make. Be sure to differentiate between sweet and unsweet tea when you ask, or you might be in for a sugary surprise. And remember that barbeque doesn't refer to tossing some burgers on the grill-it's generally pulled pork that's been smoked and slathered in a vinegary sauce.