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Joel Smalley – University of Tennessee, Knoxville – Fall 2014

On the evening of Tuesday I finally landed at Knoxville airport. After approximately 24 hours of travel I had made it. After being driven to campus via a student service ran by the university, I headed up to my room to go to sleep.

Over the coming days I met students from all over the world. Through orientation programs I have met students from countries such as Germany, Brazil, England, Sweden, Austria as well as a few fellow Australians. Notably (and probably unsurprisingly) us Australians have “clicked” very well with the English students, due to having a number of similarities.

After seeing the campus it was astounding to comprehend the enormity of it all. As well as there being first class teaching facilities, the extra curricular facilities are incredible. From the football stadium (capacity 102,000), the basketball stadium, huge library, gyms and swimming pools, it was safe to say it has been vastly different to UTS where there is no space for such buildings due to its location in the CBD of Sydney.

I have been happily surprised by the amount of support for college football that exists within Knoxville. The support for the team is enormous, with multiple merchandise shops. Everyone seems to be right behind the college/university and very proud to say that the college represents them. I would love to have something like this back home, however I’m not sure how well it would work due to our much smaller country. Neyland Stadium, home of the Tennessee Vols is where the games take place here, and I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to attend their games with a packed stadium. The atmosphere would be absolutely amazing. A few of my mates and I are also wanting to attend one of the away games at another college one weekend.

The whole Greek (fraternities and sororities) scene is rather interesting too. I am looking forward to seeing how they fit into the university as I’ve heard a lot of conflicting statements about their attitude and friendliness. I guess this is something I will find out over the coming weeks.

The transition to life here has been made quite easy due to a number of factors. These include the fact I am a native English speaker, and the Southern American people seem very nice, particularly to Australians and the English.

Classes started on Wednesday week. So far I have had my first class for each subject and so far it seems safe to say that the work will be easier than back home. Whether or not that is because I study a hard degree back home (engineering), or whether classes are generally easier here, I don’t know. I will probably gain a better understanding further into the semester.

In summing up this first week I would have to say that the university seems amazing and I have had no challenges so far in meeting people or feeling accepted by the city of Knoxville. It seems like a very friendly place and I can’t wait to spend some more time here!

Joel Smalley




Global Exchange, US

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