On the 14th of August 2017, I hugged my parent’s goodbye at Sydney airport. It was emotional, knowing I wouldn’t see them for another ten months to come. I got on the plane, ready to travel for almost 24 hours to get to my final destination: Knoxville, Tennessee. I checked into my room feeling scared and slightly overwhelmed as none of the other students had checked in.
Thankfully, however, the international exchange orientation program allowed me to meet some of my closest friends here on exchange. I have met students from countries including Spain, England, Sweden, Columbia, Germany, and Australia. I have found it interesting how quickly the Australians and British students have connected, and it has been comforting having other students going through a similar experience.
Classes are a lot easier in comparison to UTS, as a lot of your grade is dependent on participation. Although, the class work is a lot more regular with weekly homework assignments that account for a tiny percentage of your grade. Overall, I have found settling in quite easy, the most important thing during your first few weeks on exchange is to establish a support system.
The campus is something out of a movie; it takes around 20 minutes to walk through the campus as it is huge. The university is beautiful; the facilities and extracurricular activities are extensive. The support for football here is reflected in the facilities, most notably the Neyland football stadium which sits 102,000. I have already attended a football game, and it was one of my highlights since being here.
The students here who are known as ‘Vols’ are very passionate about their school, and most are involved in two or three societies or clubs. Most prominently the involvement in Greek life on campus is astounding. A lot of the social activities and game day festivities revolve around the fraternities and sororities. Being Australian it is very easy to attend these Greek events, and I would encourage you to do so as they are an excellent way to meet Americans. Do not doubt the power of an Australian accent in making friends on campus, believe me, most people have never traveled out of the USA!
I have been studying here for six weeks, and I can say without a doubt going on exchange has been one of the best experiences of my life. Every week is something different, whether it is traveling to Nashville or exploring the surrounding Knoxville area, you won’t be bored!
Courtney McEwen, 98072438. Bachelor of Business studying at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, United States of America.