By Liv Osgood, active member
Roll Tide. It’s something you don’t think you’re going to get used to, but you do. You also get used to seeing pledges walking around in suits during 90-degree weather and every girl on campus wearing big tshirts and Nike shorts. Running late to class? Just take one of the MBTAstyle busses that chauffeur you around campus. Of course, no bus on the campus of the University of Alabama would be acceptable without having red seats displaying the university’s signature script A. Do you think you could drop your life at a cozy, small University and fully immerse yourself in the culture and spirit that is the Crimson Tide? Let’s find out
I was accepted into the National Student Exchange program which allows you to study at a different school of your choice that is involved in the program. While attending, you are eligible for instate tuition and some schools even allow you to pay your home school’s instate prices. With a love of Waffle House and Luke Bryan, I decided a southern school was the right choice for me. I also wanted the chance to get to attend a larger school with a beautiful campus. With a Waffle House within walking distance and a campus that looks like the set of Legally Blonde, Alabama seemed to be the perfect place. I also went to a Luke Bryan concert on a farm nearby, so that didn’t hurt either.
I left my comfortable New England life and jumped on a plane to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Never in my life did I think I’d end up there for my fall semester of my sophomore year, but I was excited and young! Experiences! Ah! I landed in Tuscaloosa on a rainy Friday, something I would be well acquainted with. My driver’s name was Moe. He picked me up from the airport and as adorable as he was, I could not understand one word he was saying. Experiences! Culture! Where am I?! I chose to sign up for early move in and try sorority recruitment.
Participating in recruitment was like nothing I’ve ever seen. Sorority row looked like a cul-de-sac (yes, this is how you spell cul-de-sac, I googled it) of mansions. It WAS a cul-de-sac of mansions. There were over 2,000 girls rushing and I was overwhelmed. We stood in heels and dresses with full hair and makeup done during August days in Alabama with temperatures reaching 95 degrees. The sorority women sang us creepy door songs and the whole experience was a little cult-like. I didn’t make it to the final round of the weeklong process, but by that time my feet were all blistered and my new roommates had arrived! They were from California and in the National Student Exchange program as well. Hashtag, bonding time.
Together, we experienced everything Alabama had to offer. What is better to do in Alabama than to go to a football game? (Nothing. Football is actually the only activity the state of Alabama had to offer.) Football games where all of the girls dress up like they’re attending a summer wedding. Where everyone holds “shakers” a.k.a. red and white pom poms to keep the beat during school chants, of which there are plenty. Don’t forget about the mascot, Big Al, who is everyone’s favorite dancing elephant. You may not want to stay the whole game, but don’t worry! You could go to any restaurant on The Strip and they’ll be playing the game on TV. (Except for the Waffle House, because apparently, they don’t have a TV.)
Yes, the school spirit might become overwhelming at times. The first day of class, every one of my teachers welcomed us with a Roll Tide! As did the lunch ladies, and the bus drivers and my Starbucks barista. After getting used to the phrase, you find comfort in it; It makes you feel like you belong. However, the other students know you don’t, because they make fun of the way you say room and horrible and BUBBLAH; I was WICKED thirsty, guy.
I would recommend that every student experience studying abroad, whether it’s domestically or internationally. Experiencing different cultures gives you more perspective and understanding. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m just saying I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Crimson Tide won the College Football Championship the same year I attended. (Everyone, PLEASE stop thanking me.) I will never forget the wonderful friends I made and the ridiculously fun times I had. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Nick Saban is God, and Bryant Denny Stadium is church. CAN I GET A ROLL TIDE?