Cultural Experience | South Carolina

#LivingLikeALocal in South Carolina: Studying Abroad through the eyes of an Essex Gal.

I study American History at Warwick University, but I jumped at the chance to study abroad at U of South Carolina for 9 months.

By Lizi Woolgar, University of Bristol.


It was quite possibly the most eye-opening, rewarding, and life-changing experience”

Image of the Annual State Fair, South Carolina

Annual state fair, South Carolina

My old friend Hannah Dungate, from Tolleshunt Knights, earns her keep at home working at the world-renowned Tiptree Jam Factory! But she spends most of her time studying American history at Warwick University, where she gleefully seized the opportunity of a year abroad. I quizzed her on the feats and fears of her year in the big ole USA.

1. Where did you go & how long for? I studied at the University of South Carolina for 9 months.

2. What did you study? Over the course of the year I studied a variety of subjects ranging from US, Caribbean, European literature and history to Contemporary Hollywood Cinema.

3. What unexpected difficulties did you face? Homesickness. Having lived away from home for two years already, I thought I was fully aware of the hardships of being separated from family and friends. However, the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean in between Great Britain and I was one thing I did not fully account for!

Image of my daily walk to class.

Daily walk to class

4. What was the most surprising cultural difference or similarity? Studying in the South comes with an array of cultural differences. From racial distinguishing, the worshipping of student-athletes and the popular fraternity and sorority living. These are a mere few of the customs of the nation that, as a Brit, will flabbergast us during a year out.

  5. What advice would you give to yourself a year ago, in preparation for this year? Don’t go abroad in a relationship! Long distance doesn’t work. And if anything it spoils months of fun you could be having including travelling and exploring the depths of the city and surrounding areas with new friends.

6. How did you reflect on your study abroad experience once you returned home? That it was quite possibly the most eye-opening, rewarding, and life-changing experience. To sound cliché, it really was a journey of personal growth and character and one that will shape your future forever. (Not to mention all the pals you make worldwide and the subsequent opportunity for possible future holiday destinations!)

Image of boys and their "Go Cocks"- Pre-tailgating image

“Go Cocks” – Pre-tailgating

7. 3 top tips of things to experience whilst if you visit this location? a) Make sure you attend an American football game. The Gamecocks boast a magnificent stadium that holds 90,000 people. With the student marching band, the tradition of the tailgate pre-game, as well as our ever atmospheric signature theme tune of the ‘Sandstorm’ you’ll experience something that no other country else in the world can replicate.

Image of marching band formation at American Football game

Marching band formation at American Football game

b) Despite being a 12 hour road trip, (adding to the all-American experience, I assure you), visiting New Orleans while the Mardi Gras festival is in town will be the best thing you ever do. With non-stop partying all day and night down Bourbon St you’ll be sure to collect loads of beads (even if us girls didn’t take part in the tradition of flashing to get them!). Alongside the partying, check out the French-Caribbean cuisine of Gumbo and Jambalaya, as well as an unforgettable music experience.

Mardi Gras image.

Mardi Gras

c) My final must-do would be Spring Break. For once in my life I will say FOLLOW THE CROWD. Do not go on a quiet beach holiday or to the Caribbean like some students might suggest. GO to the party destinations like Panama City, Florida or Cancun, Mexico. I won’t begin to tell you what it is like, it really is one of those ‘you have to be there’ moments… but here’s a fellow English classmate who can try to recreate the scenes for you:

Spring Break  - Panama City, Florida, Image

Spring Break – Panama City, Florida

8. Any other comments? For further info of life at USC read the hilarious blog posts of Brook and Westy, the infamous diggers about our shared experience:

Old Pirate tavern in historic city Georgia Image.

Old Pirate tavern in historic city Georgia

Lizi Woolgar

University of Bristol | 40 stories

Graduate of University of Bristol. Having spent my first two years of University writing for the student newspaper, epigram and Brighton-based Spindle Magazine, I then went on to edit the Style section of Epigram 2012-2013. Now keen to pursue a career in journalism/editorial work, I look forward to writing my weekly column for The College Tourist, all the while seeing where my writing and travel will take me.

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