22/01/2016, by CLAS

A Year in Louisiana: an American and Canadian Studies Student Abroad

In August 2014 I left England to begin my year abroad at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Having never visited the States before, let alone Louisiana, I was a little nervous about what I had gotten myself into. Luckily, everything surpassed my expectations, from the campus and the location, to the climate and the southern hospitality.

LSU’s campus is home to lakes that you can kayak and paddle board on, a Greek amphitheatre to sit down and read in, and Death Valley (pictured above) the Tigers’ football stadium (which is bigger than Wembley), where we spent each and every home game. The area leading out of campus is not well pedestrianized but LSU provides free buses to ‘Tigerland’ where you will find extremely cheap college bars and restaurants.

LSU is situated in Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana state, meaning that unlike many other big universities you are not just stuck with a college town. Baton Rouge hosts the tallest State Capitol building in the US, with a great view from the top. The building is also known as “Huey Long’s monument” and in 1935 he was assassinated inside the Capitol itself; you can actually see the preserved bullet holes in the walls of the building. Baton Rouge also hosts many bars and restaurants if you want to escape the usual college spots, and is just over an hour away from my favourite city in America: New Orleans. All the exchange students fell in love with New Orleans and managed to visit The Big Easy over a dozen times, experiencing Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street, Jackson Square, Mardi Gras and more.

Louisiana Photo 2

Arriving in August was definitely a shock to the system with some days reaching 90% humidity, but when you’re sunbathing in 26-degree weather in January it seems a small price to pay. Warm weather year-round means that almost everyone off-campus has access to a pool so we spent as much free time as possible making good use of this.

I decided to take part in “rush” during my first week at LSU, which meant that you visit every sorority on campus (there are 11) throughout the week and on “Bid Day” I was assigned to Kappa Kappa Gamma (pictured below). Though I was the only non-American to join their sorority I was welcomed with open arms and became friends with many of them who also hosted me. I could not have predicted the extent of southern hospitality, not only with places to stay, but also with their eagerness to introduce us to tailgating parties, country music, two-stepping and crawfish boils.

Louisiana Photo 3

                                                         Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at LSU

Academically, at LSU I was able to take a huge range of unique classes from ‘Religion, Hip Hop, and Culture’ to ‘Multiculturalism and the Media’, two topics that really interest me but I have never had the chance to study before. ‘Philosophy and Popular Culture’ involved watching Breaking Bad and The Wire and studying the philosophy behind the characters and narrative. Not only were the classes different from University of Nottingham, but the teaching styles differed too. For ‘The Obama Legacy’ and ‘Southern Black Culture’ we carpooled to our professor’s house where he held a three-hour seminar in his living room each week, with a break to serve up fried chicken and jambalaya!

Throughout the year I was able to visit 13 different states but Louisiana became home and I will be back there soon after graduation to reunite with the southerners.

Inyo Lian, 4th Year American Studies and English Undergraduate student

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