by Annie Yan
The University of Texas is a classic example of a large American university, with its well-known Longhorns logo and huge football culture. Wearing the school’s burnt orange colours will, without a doubt, be recognised by at least one person wherever you travel across the entire country.
I lived in the Castilian for the full ten months, had a roommate, and shared a bathroom with my roommate as well as two girls living in the adjacent room. The Castilian is awesome if you’re on the younger side- most of the residents are first years, and a fair few are second years, almost no third years though so keep that in mind if you’re a little older. They provide options to cater for all your meals, the food is decent and it’s buffet style so honestly can’t go too wrong here. It’s been recently renovated and has amazing facilities, the people are great but it’s a big dorm so you frequently bump into people you’ve never seen before.
If you like your privacy, you may want to consider University Towers where you get your own room and share the common living area with another person. Though from hearing the experiences of my friends, this place is full of first year frat kids and is significantly less personal/community oriented than the Castilian.
If you want to meet great people and don’t mind living in more messy conditions and contributing to a couple hours of housework a week, look into the coops. Pearl St and 21st are fairly rough, full of people and big parties but there are lots of great, smaller ones. Halstead and Laurel are quite good, smaller community with lots of exchange students.
Schools in the South have a reputation for taking their football culture and Greek life pretty seriously. A&M has one of the nations best football programs, and if your an NFL fan you may have noticed 2017 #1 draft pick Myles Garret played for the mighty Aggies (the name of their football team). So, if you are looking for the real American college vibe, I can guarantee that you will soon be swept up in the unwavering school pride at UT and before you know it, you’ll be pulling the classic hook-em-horns hand gesture in all your Instagram photos.
Whilst there’s certainly an active party scene which the school perhaps is more renowned for with college nights on Dirty 6th (the bar and clubs street) there for you every Thursday, there’s a lot more to Austin than meets the eye. Given that it’s labelled as a bit of a hippie city with the slogan of “Keep Austin Weird”, you’re bound to find wacky things to do if you search for them.
Some of the things I have done include dancing the two-step at a country club, grooving to live jazz music in the evenings downtown, watching the Titanic with live comedic narration at the Hide Out Theatre, hiking and jumping off mini cliffs into the freezing cold pools of the Greenbelt, and the weirdest of all- a round of bingo based on guessing where a living chicken will defecate on a large wooden board (+ being surrounded by locals wearing cowboy boots in a little country shed). If you’re looking for an experience that will make you question what UNSW is doing with itself, then look no further.
UT campus is amazing and very open with great facilities. The Gregory gym has outdoor pools and a spa as well as squash courts and the like. The Campus is so huge that if you’re in Engineering then RIP- consider buying a cheap bike. But otherwise, there are campus buses and walking isn’t that bad through a scenic campus anyway.
- New Orleans: highly recommended if you want to experience a jazzy, funky city that comes alive at night with its mo-town renditions of club songs (Kanye’s ‘Gold Digger’ never sounded so good)
- Chicago: cycle along the large lake, go to amazing improv comedy nights
- New York City: too busy for my liking (also went during Christmas aka freezing cold)
- Washington DC: great museums
- California: San Diego, San Francisco, Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park and Yosemite! Road-trip down the coast from San Francisco back down to LA; amazing views.
- Mexico: the highlight of my year abroad. Texas is right next to Mexico so you should definitely try to visit at some point. Hire a car and go around the Yucatan peninsula- go to Cancun and be a tourist, but don’t forget to venture past there. The locals are so lovely, that part of Mexico is also very safe and you can see more of the local way of life when you step outside of the classic Spring Break locations. Mexico City is also cool- be sure to go to Teotihuacan, hire another car and drive to Morelia for a mountain town vibe. 10/10 would recommend.