USA Exchange: Why I Chose South Carolina

Me at Obama's press conference
Me at Obama’s press conference

A lot of crazy/awesome/exciting things have been happening in my life lately, so blogging has unfortunately taken a backseat. One such thing was volunteering at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in my hometown of Brisbane last month. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I made so many wonderful connections and I was fortunate enough to see fourteen of the world leaders – including my main man, President Obama!

However, the news that I am most excited to share on here is that, in exactly one week, I will leaving Australia to go on a study exchange to the University of South Carolina for a semester! Yes, I am finally getting the chance to live in my beloved United States – well, at least for a few months! My sister is actually coming along too! I have chased this dream since I found out about the opportunity in high school. It feels so surreal that it is finally happening. And in my final post before I leave, I thought I would answer a question that I get asked frequently – Why South Carolina?

My acceptance letter from USC
My acceptance letter from USC

I know that South Carolina is probably not a place that many Australians would consider visiting, but there are a multitude of reasons why I chose it for my exchange. The main one is the location. I have visited the United States several times, but have never visited ‘the South’. It is an area that has always fascinated me. So, I wanted to take this opportunity to base myself there and explore this culturally unique part of the United States as much as possible. South Carolina is, after all, the home of southern hospitality.

Another related reason is that I know the cultural differences will challenge me. South Carolina is a conservative, Republican state and let’s just say that I do not share many of those views. Heck, the death penalty still exists in South Carolina and that is probably the social issue that I most passionately oppose. But I am at a very pivotal part in my life, where my views on the world are being shaped, so I want to extend myself out of my comfort zone.

The weather in South Carolina was also a big drawcard. I adore sunny, warm weather – I am a Queenslander, after all. So, I did not even consider going somewhere that is rainy or cold for most of the year. The fact that the tagline for Columbia (the town where we will be staying) is “famously hot” had me sold.

There are things about the university itself that also lead me to pick it. I want the “full college experience”, so I was very drawn to the fact that University of South Carolina is a large university with a lot of students who live on campus. I also love the fact that it is fanatical about its sporting teams and it has great school pride.

So, there you have it! They are the main reasons why I have chosen to go on exchange to South Carolina. I am so eager to begin the adventure – and be finished with the ridiculous amount of paperwork it has taken to get to this point! I intend to blog about this journey as much as I can. It will be interesting to see whether my expectations for South Carolina turn out to be accurate. Until then, goodbye Australia!

Farewelling my friends at my party!
Farewelling my friends at my party!

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