Northern students learn about grits, gravy during regional lesson
For the 58 percent of the freshman class who are from South Carolina, sweet tea, grits and omnipresent palmetto emblems are as common as “tennis shoes.” However, for the other 42 percent, these aspects of life in the state where the first shots of the Civil War were fired can be puzzling.
That’s why Gamecocks Across America (GAA), an organization stemmed from the Out-of-State Student Mentor program and sponsored by the Student Success Center, hosted its annual “What’s the Big Deal About Sweet Tea?” session at the Russell House on Monday and Tuesday.
“We’re here as a guide for freshmen and transfer students to give them the resources they need, from teaching them about Southern culture to how to get football tickets,” GAA President Lauren Storb said.
A fourth-year psychology student originally from Reading, Pa., Storb remembers the adjustment she faced as a newcomer to the Palmetto State.
“I know when I first moved here it was culture shock; I didn’t know what some things were or certain words, like ‘tennis shoes’ instead of ‘sneakers,’ ” Storb said. “This helps [other out-of-state students] know what to expect so they can avoid confusion and feel more comfortable here.”
Students representing several states — Maryland, California, Kentucky and Wisconsin to name a few — gathered at the Russell House to learn more about South Carolina’s social norms and idioms. In the process, they also got to sample a few main Southern staples: biscuits and gravy, grits, boiled peanuts and, appropriately, sweet tea. First-year marine science student Sydney Novak from Baltimore, Md., said the tea was a bit too sweet for her taste. However, she has enjoyed the equally sweet display of Southern hospitality from the people she has met so far.
“It was weird at first; here, random people will just start talking to you,” Novak said. “That would never happen in Baltimore — it’s one of the most dangerous cities in the country.”
Fellow first-year marine science student and Kentucky native Lindsay Tripp, already a fan of sweet tea, braved a taste of the soggy boiled peanuts after the meeting. Even though she probably won’t be eating them again, she said she’s ready to experience what else South Carolina has to offer.