We have now attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville for a semester and discovered some irrevocable truths about life on campus. These are the things that anyone who has experienced Big Orange Country understands.
1. Orange. EVERYWHERE.
You know that you're in Big Orange Country when you cross into East Tennessee and suddenly all of the stores have UT gear in the windows and the billboards have Peyton Manning on them. The campus itself is decked in UT Orange and so are the students.
2. Football is everything.
Every Saturday in the fall is spent either in Neyland Stadium (where people dress up weirdly nice for games) or watching the game on TV, cheering on the Vols. Hardcore fans travel across the South to attend every away game. We love Josh Dobbs, Juaun Jennings, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cam Sutton, Alvin Kamara and countless others.
3. The whole campus is hills. And then there's The Hill.
UT students are no strangers to climbing, and when you have a giant hill on campus simply called "The Hill," it shows. Between the miles of uphill-both-ways streets on campus to the dozen flights of stairs it takes to get to Ayres, we get our exercise.
4. The Rock
One of UT's best traditions is The Rock. Since the 1960s, it has served as a platform for student expression, announcements, marriage proposals and game day murals and is a favorite spot of students and alumni alike. This season, students gathered for as many as ten hours on nights before games to watch senior Payton Miller create her famous game day paintings on The Rock.
5. The "Cone Zone"
The Knoxville campus has been under construction for several years now and with countless delays, the end does not seem to be coming soon. The UT administration has a vision of a modern campus and we are able to watch it transform before our very eyes. This may be a hassle now, but we can't wait for Stokely to open and grant us with the Fresh Food Company and to have another 1000 parking spaces. Everyone will be excited to actually cross Cumberland Avenue without having to avoid an active construction site, however.
6. Rocky Top
You may not even know what our official fight song is (it's Down the Field, by the way, not that anyone knows how it goes) but you've sung our unofficial fight song thousands of times, complete with resounding "WOO!"s. Bonus points if you know the second verse.
7. The Pride of the Southland
Everyone at UT knows that we have the best marching band in the South. Fans gather in the stands at halftime to watch the Pride perform their intricate and entertaining shows. This season, the show themes ranged from the UT Space Institute to a tribute to the late, great Pat Summitt to this year's version of the band's famous Circle Drill/
8. Cook Out is a gift to humanity.
Whether you've come from a long day of classes or a long night hanging out in the Fort, Cook Out is worth the walk down to the end of the Strip. Because where else can you get a giant box of food for only $5 or enjoy one of 40+ different milkshake flavors?
9. The Smoky Mountains are your weekend getaway destination.
With Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountain National Park less than a two hour drive away, UT students have access to some of the most beautiful lands and fun attractions (see: Dollywood) in the country. Student favorite hikes include Clingman's Dome, Abram's Falls and Chimney Tops.