Columbia downtown is a mix of eclectic boutiques, restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs and even has a karaoke bar which is great fun! It is small but its range in shops makes it the perfect student downtown. It is walking distance from campus and the dorms and there is some off campus housing that is in downtown. It is usually relatively busy during the day but gets more lively in the evenings when students go out.
However for one long weekend in early March, downtown becomes bustling and busy with thousands of people coming to Columbia for the True/False Film Fest. The Fest shows non-fiction films, with musicians performing before the showings. The whole of Columbia comes alive for this weekend and Columbia was even listed as one of the best 50 cities in the U.S to visit because of this festival. People get really into the festival and walk around in homemade costumes all weekend. There is also a parade/walk where everyone is invited to join in and people were encouraged to dress up in brightly coloured clothes and there were some crazy costumes.
The weekend also coincided with my Sororities “Mom’s Weekend” which gave my mum the perfect excuse to come and visit me for 5 days. I got to show her downtown Columbia and we went to see two films, STEP and QUEST. Both films were incredibly moving and told stories of everyday people in the most beautiful way. It was great to see the some of the films and exciting to hear in the Q and A after that they will be shown around the States in April.
Lots of people volunteer at the Fest and many of the other exchange students did it and loved it. If you volunteer you get free tickets. The same is true for Roots and Blues Music festival which happens in the fall, I would encourage anyone to volunteer at these events as they are a lot of fun and you meet a lot of people.
I also experienced Line Dancing for the first time and LOVED it! It is typical southern country dancing and everyone wears cowboy boots and most of the men wear cowboy hats. Everyone there was really good as they go all the time but it was so much fun to try to learn the steps. Most of the songs are country songs which I didn’t recognise, but at one point they played Ed Sheeran “Shape of you” and it was rather surreal to line dance to it!