The Daily Gamecock

Column: Columbia offers much to explore for USC freshmen

First-year students at USC are in luck – Columbia is a city with a lot to offer, and freshmen who have just arrived have the perfect opportunity to explore and get to know their new home.

South Carolina’s capital city is a big place, but for the majority of freshmen who are without a car this year, there’s plenty to do and see within walking distance of USC’s campus. Columbia is full of sights, attractions, shops and restaurants, and many of the best of them can be found only blocks from USC.

Just across the Statehouse grounds is Main Street, where some of the city’s tallest buildings and most iconic attractions and restaurants can be found. The Columbia Museum of Art, which offers half-priced admission to college students, features a thematically organized collection spanning many cultures and eras. 

Every Saturday morning, countless vendors line the blocks of Main Street for a weekly pop-up market. Called Soda City, the market attracts thousands of shoppers and enlivens the already-lively scene downtown. According to its website, everything sold at the market is “unique, handcrafted, and produced, right here, in South Carolina,” adding a sense of locality to the sprawling and exciting operation.

There’s no place quite like Main Street for freshmen to experience their new home. Exploring the city blocks and taking in what Columbia has to offer are perfect ways to get to know the culture, feel more involved and have a great time doing it. As a first-year student at USC, settling in can be a challenge, but getting out and discovering the city is the best way to make it feel like home. 

Columbia offers much in the way of parks and recreation. The city’s Canal and Riverfront Park, a 30 to 40 minute stroll from USC, offers bikers and runners a scenic path along the waterfront that follows the old route of the canal’s towpath. Signs along the path tell of the canal’s history and its place in the story of the city. The park is a great destination for those looking to learn about Columbia while exploring one of its more accessible natural areas – a perfect fit for freshmen who are new to the city.

Otherwise, Columbia is the capital and second-largest city in South Carolina – a lot goes on here. Columbia is the frequent host of concerts, events and games, many of which take place on or near USC’s campus. Last spring, Colonial Life Arena was the venue for a Post Malone concert. Segra Park, in the city’s BullStreet District, is home to the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball team. Marches and events are held on the Statehouse steps throughout the year, and political organization is very much alive around USC’s campus. 

In other words, there’s no shortage of things in Columbia. Freshmen should take advantage of the endless opportunities they have to explore their new home; not only is South Carolina’s capital a fun and enriching place to discover, but the real sense of community that can be found through its exploration can also be immensely helpful to a first-year student trying to acclimate to a new life.

If you’re a freshman wondering what’s outside the walls of your dorm or campus’ gates, get out and see the many wonderful things Columbia has to offer and learn to love your new home.  


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