Student exchange Study Travel USA

Sweet Home and Roll Tide: An Alabama Exchange

Georgia – University of Alabama – USA

Semester 2, 2022

Bachelor of Urban Development (Honours)

The semester that I spent at the University of Alabama was without a doubt the best six
months of my degree, and quite possibly the most fun and exciting of my life so far. I made
some amazing friends, both international and American, and had some experiences that felt
straight out of a movie.

I chose the University of Alabama as my first choice as I was really looking to get the
American college experience and given that Bama has one of the nation’s top college
football teams, and was ranked as the no.1 party school in the USA by Barstool Sports, I
was quite sure a lot of fun was to be had.


My year we had a choice between three accommodation types: Burke Hall, The Rotary
House, and the Highlands. While it would have been nice to have my own room, I knew
immediately that I did not want to stay at the Highlands as it was one the other side of
campus and I didn’t want to be too far away from the action.
I stayed in the Rotary House (or as we affectionally called it: ROHO) which is a house near
the centre of campus near where the fraternities, ‘the Quad’, and Bryant-Denny stadium are
located. This was really convenient as the majority of what I needed was within a 15-minute

I loved the Rotary House as it is equipped with a kitchen, and a living area which included a
pool table and ping pong table, and a backyard. The house was comprised about twelve
people approximately half international students/half American. We were all quite good
friends in the house, and I personally felt it was the perfect mix of getting the American
experience, while also meeting internationals, two of whom – Coralie and Ash – were from
France and became my best friends while on exchange.

The drawbacks I would say about ROHO are that it has shared rooms, where you will have a
room between two people (which are actually a decent size compared to the dorm rooms),
and a bathroom shared between maximum four people. Given that there are a bunch of
young adults co-living, it could get a bit messy, especially the kitchen, which was a bit
frustrating. Also, there may be a requirement to take an additional class to live in the house,
which I thought was going to be a big deal, but it really was not.

Overall living in the Rotary House was possibly the best decision I made when coming on
exchange, and I was even luckier still as my roommate for an unknown reason never
showed up to the university, and I therefore had my own room for the semester. If you think
you could manage having roommate, I would definitely recommend the Rotary House, but if
not, quite a lot of people also stayed in the Highlands, which also looked like a lot of fun. It is
unlikely you will have the option to stay off campus, but even if you are given the option, I
definitely would not recommend it – public transport is abysmal, and most of the fun aspects
of the university are located on campus.

Social life

Alabama is know for two things primarily: football and Greek life.

If you apply to go on exchange for the Fall semester you will be there for the football which is
one of the most incredible experiences. The Bama football team the ‘Crimson Tide’ is
essentially the pride and joy of Alabama and therefore the games are amazing. Great crowd
atmosphere (especially if you manage to get ‘lower bowl’ tickets, which I definitely
recommend doing at least once). Prior to the games there is also ‘tailgating’ where
essentially the whole Alabama community has a BBQ on the Quad outside the stadium in
preparation for the game, where the marching band plays, and everyone is wearing crimson.
Needless to say it was extremely fun and nothing like I have before experienced. Also the
unofficial anthem of Bama is ‘Dixieland Delight’ by ‘Alabama’, you’ll definitely know this song
off by heart by the end of your exchange – it was so much fun yelling the additional lyrics
University of Alabama students have added in as well!

Greek life is the sororities and fraternities, where there are so many on campus. One thing I
was concerned with prior to going onto exchange was that I would not be able to do as much
as I was not in a sorority but thankfully this was absolutely not true. As a girl I was very lucky
as it was quite easy to get into frat parties, where I saw Ceelo Green, and Noizu perform
completely free in the backyard of a fraternity house. For the boys I will admit it would be
significantly harder to get into frat parties, however some of my guy friends were still able to
enter some.

Despite this, I found that the frat parties were actually a bit overrated, and I always had the
most fun on ‘the Strip’ which is down the main road of campus where all the bars and clubs
are located. Galettes particularly on ‘Wine Wednesday’ was a favourite amongst me and my
friends – and if you go there have an iconic yellowhammer drink!
If you are over 21 and want to go to the bars, fortunately most places actually allowed me to
use my Australian drivers licence, which was great as I didn’t feel too comfortable taking my
passport out with me on a night out.


I was lucky enough that I had four elective subjects and decided to take four
communications subjects ranging from level 200-300. I took these classes because I thought
they would be interesting and honestly pretty easy. And believe me; they were very easy. A
lot of the class was based on participation and attendance, so along as you are engaged
and hand in the assignments you should be golden. I will mention however, near the end of
the semester I probably unwisely began to skip one of my classes as it was at an
inconvenient time. While I thought I was going to be fine because I was getting A’s in my
assignments, I very nearly failed the class because of my lack of attendance, so just be
aware of what the attendance requirements of your classes are.

Other Considerations

Bama is located in Tuscaloosa, one hour away from the nearest airport which is located in
Birmingham. Without a car it is definitely not the easiest place to travel to and from, so I
would keep that in mind if you were intending to do a lot of travel while you are on exchange.
Similarly, most of what I needed was either on campus, or a reasonable walk away, however
it was a bit painful getting around Tuscaloosa without a car as American cities in general are
extremely automobile dependant.

If you asked me prior to going on exchange what my biggest fear was, it was that I would not
make any friends, but trust me, you absolutely will, you meet so many people in your first
week and become close pretty quickly.

Prior to going on exchange the Bama international office hosted an information session,
where after that we made a group chat to meet the other international exchange students.
This was great to get to know people beforehand so would definitely recommend.

Overall, I am so appreciative of the time I spent in Alabama, where I know I will always look
back on the Fall of 2022 with very happy memories. I am so excited for you to go on
exchange and hope you have as a great time as I did.

Sweet home and Roll Tide!


Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.

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