Olivia Rainnie studying overseas at the University of Tennessee in the US
I spent a semester studying at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and it was honestly the best four months of my life! From the moment I arrived on the 16th of August, I knew my exchange was going to be such an amazing experience. I shared a room with another Australia girl from Sydney, which worked out to be excellent because now I have a friend for life who lives quite close and we were both so excited to explore everything together. All the international students were placed in the same hall which made it wonderful to meet people from other countries and learn about their cultures.
Going to classes overseas was actually fun (surprisingly) because you are in a new environment and meeting American students who become your friends to help you out. ‘The South’ is notorious for being very friendly and I can attest that is definitely the case; people always up for a chat, being welcoming, and holding doors open for you. This made it excellent for travelling as they had cars and would happily show you around the area. The famous Great Smoky Mountains were only 30 minutes away with over 1000 km of walking tracks with incredible views overlooking the valley.
The highlight of my exchange were the football games, where the college stadium could hold 102,000 people and the entertaining all-day tailgating activities prior to the game. Fraternities would host parties on game days/nights which was incredible to be apart of the Greek life and is identical to what you see on those classic American movies. Basketball games began towards the end of my semester, but those were so much fun to watch as well and the atmosphere inside the arena was crazy. Concerts were also held regularly in the arena which made my weekends always busy.
During my breaks I was able to travel to other parts of America such as Las Vegas, Zion Park in Utah, Georgia, and North Carolina. As flights are quite cheap over there it enabled me see more of America and learn about the different states.
I am so glad I came during the Fall (first) semester to Knoxville as I was able to experience different seasons and festivities. Halloween in America was an unreal weekend full of celebrations with your friends and dressing up in costumes. A bunch of us internationals were taken in by our American friend for Thanksgiving at their family house, which we ate ridiculous amounts of food and were able to learn about Tennessee traditions.
I could ramble on for hours about how much I love the University of Tennessee but overall, my exchange was the best time of my life and I seriously adored every second of it! My trip was that enjoyable that I want to go back after I finish my degree and live in America.