This post is a part of our weekly International Voices column, writing by UT students, for UT students. Enjoy!
One of the most memorable experiences I have had in America was over spring break this year when I went to Nashville, Tennessee. I was really excited to experience traditional American culture, which most of my friends here find part of their everyday routine. It was also a personal goal that I made during my freshman year that I visit as many American states as possible before graduating, and Tennessee was a truly memorable first stop.
I stayed with one of my close friends and her house was pretty deep in the countryside. Growing up in Qatar which is mainly sand and cacti was very different to the miles of beautiful green grass and woods that surrounded her house. The perfect way to spend evenings, was to sit out on the deck whilst the sun set and watch the cows munching cud as they wandered their way up to us in hopes of apple cores. We also fired up the barbeque on some evenings and grilled burgers. This was truly the perfect American experience I had envisioned before even coming to the U.S. for university.
The city of Nashville was even more exciting. Nashville’s version of 6th street was alive with the sounds of live country music blasting from the various bars. We also passed by several original leather cowboy boots stores and I mentally added “buy a pair of Longhorn emblazoned cowboy boots” to my bucket list before I graduate. We also visited Costco, and I have yet to meet a single person in America who doesn’t absolutely love Costco. The giant wholesale warehouse was amazing to me, as I found packs of Skittles as big as my face. Qatar definitely doesn’t have anything which remotely resembles Costco, so I was delighted to walk around sampling delicious food and buying monster sized boxes of Bagel Bites. Continuing with my determination to experience everything I deemed American, we went to Olive Garden for lunch and I can truly say that their breadsticks are some of the best I’ve ever had!
My experience in Nashville was fantastic as I got to experience the true Deep South. I would personally encourage every international student to try and travel around America as much as possible. Austin is a wonderful city, but travelling to other states and cities and meeting all sorts of different people truly captures the essence of being an international student. Look at it this way, other students go to Spain or London to study abroad; as an international student, you’re studying abroad for four years, so you should go ahead and make the most of it!