You never know what you have until it’s gone. Take it from me, a new alumna: cherish every moment you have with this place and the people it brings into your life. College goes by way too fast. It’s cliché, but so true. So, live it up and make the most of it, because in four years, you’ll be wondering where the time went.
During football games
Football season is crucial to the culture here at the University of South Carolina. Going to games with your best friends, collecting every rally towel you can get your hands on, getting your picture taken with Cocky and Sir Big Spur, doing the Sandstorm and screaming the Gamecock cheers at the top of your lungs. We may not always be the best team, but we always play the hardest. It’s the boys on the field and the fans on the sidelines that make Carolina football so great. Win or lose, we always ride for our team. This may sound lame, but in Willy B we all become family. Every time there’s a Gamecock touchdown you’re hugging and cheering with the person next to you. You take that magnetic energy with you as you leave the stadium and pile into the back of someone’s truck to head home to eat some much-deserved Domino’s. My post-game ritual has remained consistent over the past four years: head back home, grab some food and then get together with some pals to debrief about what happened on and off the field. It’s in those moments where it becomes more than just football; it’s you building friendships and memories that will stay with you over the next four years.
At the Soda City Market
Farmer’s markets are always a great place to spend time with friends and, more importantly, eat good food. Soda City is a place where you can feed your mind, body and soul. Everything at the market is handcrafted and produced in South Carolina. It highlights how diverse South Carolina is while bringing the community together. My friends and I try to go every Saturday. I cannot resist the Venezuelan vendor. Their arepas and tostones taste like home. But, be careful, there are so many delicious vendors you don’t want to get full off of just one. My friends always make a stop at the waffle truck and for avocado toast (basic, I know, but try it first). Soda City has more to offer than just food; it’s the perfect place to find unique gifts. There are paintings, jewelry and clothes, just to name a few. There are always new vendors, so you never know what you’re going to stumble upon. And the street is littered with dogs of all shapes and sizes. My friends and I always struggle trying to not spill our food while bending down to pet every dog that passes us. There is no better way to start your weekend than with food, friends and dogs.
When you're burning the midnight oil in T-Coop
We’ve all been there. You keep putting off your assignment, and now it’s the last possible moment to get it done. You laugh to yourself thinking back to when your teacher said you couldn’t start and finish assignment in one night. You leave the library triumphant. But, then there are times when you are face-to-face with the consequences of your own actions. Or, you’re studying for tomorrow’s exam and the professor’s lecture slides seem to be written in another language. The Thomas Cooper Library, affectionately known as T-Coop, has seen years’ worth of emotions. There is a sense of community when you’re in that building. We have all been there and will offer a pat on the back and some words of encouragement. Don’t stress too much, though! Luckily, most restaurant and delivery apps will deliver your food right to the library entrance. You’ll come to learn that it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
Going to the St. Pat's Festival
St. Patty’s day is one of my favorite holidays. It brings people together to laugh and celebrate life. On this day, nobody is a stranger. People travel from all over to be at Columbia’s iconic festival. If you’re a morning person, you can participate in the 5k. In the afternoon, Five Points is completely shut down and used as the festival space. You can enjoy food, vendors and live music until the sun goes down. They even make the fountain run green. I studied abroad in the spring of my junior year and the FOMO I felt from missing the festival was unbearable. This year I made it a point to go out with a bang. Over 30 artists came out and performed on five different stages. I was at the rail with all my favorite people and saw artists that I have been following since high school. It felt like we were getting our own private concert and I couldn’t stop smiling.
I went through many ‘last times’ this year. Last time going to T-Coop, last function, last class of my collegiate career. What made my last time going to the St. Pat’s so special was the people I spent it with. I would’ve had fun if I had gone with different people, but something would have been missing. College is about bettering yourself and making connections, so don’t settle for anything or anyone that doesn’t make you truly happy. The people you surround yourself with make all the difference, so once you find some good ones, don’t let them go.