Exchange to Georgia College, USA
Semester 2, 2015
Just the other week I realized; I only have two months left. In only 60 days the routine I have become accustomed to will be over. The realisation hit hard; I am not ready to go home. There is still so much to do.
I’ve found College life here is more similar to our high schools than Universities. It consists of role calls, weekly homework and pop quizzes. Attendance is five days a week and the repercussions of not attending can be quite sever. However, if you’re determined enough you will find time to travel, and so I have.
I must admit that a big appeal of studying abroad for me was the opportunity to travel whilst completing studies. This made Georgia College and State University the perfect location for travelling in the ‘south’. To date I have visited Nashville, Savannah, Memphis, New Orleans, Alabama, Kentucky and Jackson just while being here. Before the beginning of term I also had the opportunity to visit San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas travelling through three states: California, Nevada and Arizona.
Flights from Australia to America can be quite costly. Which is why I decided to take advantage of the time I could have here. I left for the USA about two weeks before the term would start jumping on a plane bound for San Francisco. I spent a few days here eating my way through china town, enjoying the street performers down at the farmers market on fisherman’s Warf and reveling in the red beauty that is the Golden Gate Bridge. I joined a tour with G Adventures that would bring me to LA. If you were considering travel before or after I would recommend this company, its affordable and fun. This trip brought me to places like death valley, Joshua tree national forest, Yosemite and lake Havasu. These places were all natural wonders. In this time I swam in the Colorado River, hiked along the edge of the Grand Canyon (and watch the sun set over it), slept under the stars and climbed amongst the boulders of several national parks.
I also had the opportunity to “get [my] kicks on route 66”. Stopping at a town called Peach Springs I learnt about how the Disney film ‘Cars’ was written. At the back of this little café sits the original Lightning McQueen, Mater, Doc and even Luigi and Guido were represented at the local garage, this is the cafe where the Disney executives got their inspiration. I arrived in LA exploring the Hollywood boulevard, Venice beach, toured around celebrities houses, the Getty and of course hiked up to the famous HOLLYWOOD sign where I was the ultimate modern tourist taking selfies with my Bluetooth wired selfie-stick. You may look foolish but it is definitely worth it.
My first trip once college started was to Savannah. A girl from one of my classes invited me down to her family’s home for the weekend. The people here are very friendly and helpful. The weather was far from perfect but the weekend was a lot of fun. We spent a day out at Tybee Island where the Last Song was filmed. We saw the house Miley Cyrus’ character lived in and the jetty where she met Liam Hemsworths character. My favorite experience here however was getting a home cooked meal; I definitely miss having a kitchen!
A few weeks later I was invited to a small town just outside of Atlanta where I went to a high school football game. It is exactly how TV shows make it look. There was a marching band, cheerleaders, a dance team, a half time show and about 5 different news/sports TV broadcasting agents filming. It was very surreal. I also got to carve a pumpkin that weekend, and go pumpkin shopping. Which is a real thing and is taken very seriously.
Outside of GA though, I’ve seen the French quarter in New Orleans and got to party on my 21st birthday down Bourbon Street. I also got to see the original studio where Elvis was first recorded and the likes of Jerry-Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, all under the watchful eye of the genius Sam Phillips. Memphis and Nashville offer a rich musical history and there is still live music on every street corner.
I have already ticked off many items on my bucket list however there is many more left. I am currently planning a trip to Orlando and will be going to a neighboring town in the next few weekends to see the ‘Mystic Grill’, a location in the filming of the TV series “The Vampire Diaries”. This is just a snippet of my travels so far it’s surprising how much you can squeeze in when there are time constraints. I’d hardly realized how much I had done until I sat down to write this, it truly has been an amazing experience and its not even over yet.