A highlight of my year abroad that I’m yet to blog about in detail was Spring Break. When it came to planning for this week, I was at a bit of a loose end. I hadn’t committed to any plans as most of my friends at McGill had long planned to go to Cuba. Having already been in December, I was keen to travel elsewhere in my precious week off. After a quick chat to a close friend on exchange at the University of Tennessee, I had a flight to Knoxville booked and my plan had been made. Knoxville, Asheville and Nashville… this trip couldn’t have sounded more American if I tried. Tennessee was certainly not somewhere I expected to travel on my study abroad but I was excited, although somewhat wary, about what it had to offer.
As soon as I stepped foot out of the airport, I realised this wariness was completely unnecessary. From the taxi driver who picked me up from the airport to air bnb hosts who cooked us delicious breakfasts in the morning, the so-called ‘Southern Hospitality’ was clearly evident and made us feel extremely welcome.
The university, or ‘college’, culture in Knoxville was great to experience. Home to Neyland Stadium, the sixth biggest stadium in the world, the University of Tennessee holds sport at its’ heart. Although football season was over, we managed to catch a basketball game in the university’s 22,000 basketball stadium. Not quite the 106,000 of the Neyland but still very impressive for college sport. We were fortunate enough to catch the mighty Tennessee Vols triumph over Georgia Bulldogs to win the South Eastern Conference (SEC) season for the first time in 10 years!
A drive through the spectacular Great Smoky Mountains and over the border to North Carolina took us to Asheville. This is a really laid back town, famous for its food and drink, making it a great place to relax before heading to the wild city of Nashville. It’s not often I leave a place on my travels thinking that I must go back in the near future but Nashville had this effect on me. Having always had a soft spot for country music, there’s no better place to go than ‘Music City’ itself. Live bands play throughout the cities venues all day and night, making Nashville an incredibly fun city, whilst attractions such as the Music Hall of Fame provided that cultural touch that further helped me appreciate the talent that has come out of and is associated with Nashville.
Coming back from such a fantastic sunshine filled week to the arctic temperatures of Montreal’s long winter was a struggle, although I am calmed at the knowledge that I WILL make it back in the near future. I guess the lesson any of you could learn from all this is don’t be afraid to think out of the box in terms of your travelling. I had no intention of going to Tennessee at the start of the year but took a gamble and went. What a gamble that turned out to be.