An International Student’s Survival Guide

By Rachel Chen

Count down the hours. Check. Snack on a couple of those peanut packets you just can’t seem to put down. Check. Convince yourself sitting through a movie marathon will keep your sanity intact. Check. Pop a few sleeping pills, for good measure.

Next, squirm around in your seat until you’ve finally achieved that perfect position. Allow yourself to doze off to the sounds of screaming babies and the general chatter amongst the other 93 or so passengers. Give or take, after 15 hours you have finally survived what appears to have been the longest flight of your life. As the plane pulls into the terminal, you think about how you are about to begin your four-year journey thousands of miles away from home. An image of complete and utter freedom accompanied by endless possibilities has meandered into your brain.

Then, before you know it, that sneaky four-day weekend holiday rolls around. It’s that awkward holiday that is much too short and expensive to fly home for, yet it is also too long to spend hanging around in your dorm room. By this time around the end of November, the amount of cash in your wallet will have dwindled slightly more than you expected. But fear these holidays no more, for reasonably priced solutions have been found to fulfill your boredom.

Start your day with a meal at Chick-fil-A. Once your stomach is satisfied, you are ready to begin. For those of you eager to break into a sweat, start by visiting the Swamp Rabbit Tram Trail. This 14.5-mile trail is located alongside the Reedy River, hosting the perfect path for cyclists, skaters and runners. Stop for a light lunch at the picnic area while you admire the details of the water fountain located along the river. For those who are less attracted to the idea of a physically active morning, you may opt for a more relaxing one at Lake Joccassee, called “the Lake Tahoe of the East.” While you are there, get on a boat tour and enjoy the beautiful waters. And if you are feeling more adventurous, the man-made Lake John Robinson offers a soothing day of kayaking and canoeing. Paddle along the river as you observe the creatures, including geese, herons and ducks.

After you’ve showered off the sweat from your morning work out – for the car owners – drive over to Caesars Head State Park. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and sneakers as well. Walk along the trails. Peek into the gift shops and buy something for your loved ones. Enjoy the scenic views of nature, and perhaps even have a light snack at the available picnic tables provided after that long day of walking. The best part of the park is the view of Table Rock, so be sure and bring along a camera if you have one. Don’t forget to drink water to keep you hydrated. After you have thoroughly examined the mountain scenery from every view possible, you are ready to leave the park.

Drive downtown to the Café and Then Some on Main Street. This local diner and theatre will attempt to show you a good time, promising to provide you with folksy music, comedy performances and good food.  Enjoy the big portions of Southern food as you watch the performances given by the funny actors. Laugh to your hearts content, or just enjoy the entertainment in general. Either way, order the “Homemade Sin,” the café’s homemade chocolate chip cookie smothered in vanilla ice cream, topped with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and peanuts. Contemplate the risk of diabetes, and then forget it. This stuff’s too good to pass up. A few hours of laughter and a thoroughly bloated stomach later, congratulations – you have successfully survived one out of four of the awkward holiday days. Go to bed, wake up, and repeat for the next three days.

Categories: Diversions

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