I you’re looking for a fun and unique American college experience, The University of Texas at Austin is THE PLACE you want to be for your exchange.
Regardless of who you are and what your interests are Austin has something to offer for everyone. As a city it kind of resembles a Newtown in the middle of Texas that has a 40 acre campus and a giant football stadium. While Austin is a “College Town” sprawling with student housing, sororities and frat houses it doesn’t limit itself to such a title, it is also happens to be the live music capital of the world and has a wealth of subcultures. After living here for 2 and a half months now I am convinced this is the coolest most progressive city in the United States.
Austin’s college culture is the first thing you’ll notice when you arrive. The city is completely obsessed with the University, this was probably the biggest shock i had on arrival. Everyone wears burnt orange t-shirts printed with the famous Texas Longhorn, there is a store in town that sells literally EVERYTHING and ANYTHING as Texas Longhorns merchandise and its pretty much impossible not to get sucked into the Longhorn vortex. I’ve found myself building my own collection of UT merch which includes, shirts, shorts, beanies, socks, bags, hats, keychains, wallets, even a bottle of University of Texas hotsauce. It is currently UT football season here and when you go to a game you truly see how crazy college culture is in Austin. Each home game attracts crowds of up to 100,000, and the atmosphere in the crowd is just insane. Football is a religion here and the players are treated like gods. Another aspect of the college culture is the partying. What student housing you choose to live in and who you hang out with will determine were you party but at the end of the day, there is always a party somewhere. The frat parties are real and just as ridiculous as the American Pie stereotype. There is beerpong, flipcup, usually free alcohol, loud-mouthed frat dudes and cute sorority girls. For those who are 21, the other option is heading downtown to the infamous 6th street, what i like to think of as Austin’s goldenmile. I live at 21st Street Cooperative Student House, a clothing optional, hippie haven, so most of the parties i go to usually have some nude fire twirling.
While people walk around in cowboy boots and say things like “y’all” and “how’dy” much of the left wing conservatism that is prevalent to the rest of Texas is hard to be found in Austin, the City’s motto funnily enough is “keep it weird”. This is what’s so great about Austin. On one hand, there is the huge College Culture, yet there are also endless amounts of strange and cool things to do, just to name a few seeing live music at one of the many bars downtown has to offer, going to film, art, even chilli, deep frying and bat? – festivals, eating at small “tex-mex’ food trucks, buying records from old record stores, wearing tie dye shirts and going to “Smoke Shops” (cannabis is illegal in Texas but in Austin theres a massive “weed-culture”). There are endless amounts of strange subcultures and basically no matter what you’re into if you come to Austin you will meet like-minded people.
I’ve had the best two and a half months of my life here in Austin and i don’t want to leave. If you’re reading this and are considering Austin for exchange, do it, you wont regret it. My words don’t do justice to how amazing and totally awesome this city is.