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Sweet Tea and The SEC Have you ever wondered what could make a student from the beautiful beaches of Oahu, Hawaii or California, home to some of the most prestigious public colleges in the world, move across the country to the town of Tuscaloosa, Alabama? Or what this town might look like to someone from thousands of miles away? This article will provide you with some insight into these students journey to enrollment and the stark cultural differences they have noticed since enrolling. 2 • Honors College


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n 1818, the federal government Student Population Distribution by State Outside of the authorized Alabama for the United States establishment of a “seminary of 3.8% learning,” and in 1820 the seminary was established and officially named The University of Alabama. Many people today think of UA as a trailblazer among public universities, a football powerhouse, and a school that attracts students from all across Alabama the country. However, The University 39.7% of Alabama came from extremely humble beginnings. Although UA is now home to 38,392 students from 82 different countries and all 50 states, it has not always been able to boast these Other US States 56.5% staggering statistics. Even though the university was Most people are familiar with the established in 1818, it was not until saying “a penny for your thoughts,” April 18th, 1831, that the first students but after interviewing several Honors were enrolled, 52 of them, all white college students from outside the state males. In 1891, enrollment reached 167 of Alabama, many of them became students, and finally in 1893 a female familiar with the concept of free tuition joined the student body, which was after for your ACT scores. When asking the University’s first football team was students from places like California assembled. It wasn’t until 70 years later, and Hawaii what prompted them to in 1963, that there would be sustained even consider visiting the small town enrollment of an African American at of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, they all said the university. Flash-forward to 2019 and the same thing: free tuition. Although the school has almost 40,000 students this sparked their interest, it did not enrolled, over 50% of whom are out of seal the deal. After visiting the campus state. One could say the school and city of The University of Alabama, these out surrounding it has evolved over the last of staters were drawn to two things that 200 years, and it is interesting to see why. the state of Alabama does best: SEC What better way to find out than to ask football and southern hospitality. the people who are part of this change, Ryan McMichael, an Aerospace the student body. Engineering major from Hawaii said, The University of Alabama • 3


Current Alumni by State Origin

Number of Alumni

2,135 international alumni

Georgia

16,760 alumni

203,936 total current alumni

Alabama

Florida

112,693 alumni

11,235 alumni

“When I came to Alabama it felt like a welcome mat had been placed out in front of me.” Although Hawaii is known for its aloha lifestyle that represents a peaceful and calming nature, Ryan even went a step further to say, “There is a much bigger culture about helping those around you and being friendly to those around you regardless of the circumstance just because you’re being a genuine, nice human being whereas in other places its genuinely more subdued, even in Hawaii.”

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Ryan wasn’t the only student who noticed the genuine nature in the state of Alabama. Ellie Nations, a student from Folsom, California, says, “Californians are equally polite and friendly, but it’s just not as warm as people are down here.” Although the southern hospitality was enough to spark the newcomers’ attention, the Crimson Tide was enough to keep them wanting more. Michael Jansen, a student from Houston described the competitive football climate as, “kind of charming” and went on to say even in Cowboy nation the


football atmosphere, “doesn’t dominate the environment like that.” Even though there are students in attendance at the university from all over the world, multiple students described the culture around The Crimson Tide as unifying, and what better way to start a conversation with a Crimson Tide fan than two simple words:

adhere to. Ryan described the dress code in Alabama as much more formal than what he was accustomed to back home. “In Alabama there is a completely different cultural paradigm to present yourself for certain social settings and like put an effort into these things as opposed to doing what you would do because there are certain dress codes dictations. It’s different here, it’s more formal,” said McMichael. Clearly Alabama has not adopted the casual culture that people in other regions of the country have. There are certain things that people from all over the country find undeniably The University of Alabama has come a long way since it was founded in charming about the Heart of Dixie. It 1818 and part of the acknowledgment is easy for most people to adapt to the should be attributed to the students southern cuisine and vernacular, but there are more difficult things to swallow that have had the courage to come here from all over the world. Alabama can about southern culture than barbecue. be accredited with a lot of things, such When asked what major cultural as football, friendliness, and fried food, differences Ryan has had to adapt to but there are other aspects of Alabama since moving from Hawaii to Alabama culture that have not been as easy for his immediate response was, “Adapting to a very two-sided racial society, where students from other parts of the country to get acclimated to. UA is making the you have white and black and all of the right steps by providing incentives for implications that come with that.” high performing students from different Living in states like California and Hawaii Ryan said, “I have always had an geographical locations, demographics, and backgrounds. incredible amount of racial diversity in places I have lived. We haven’t ever lived in a place where white people are the majority population.” The lack of diversity in this region of the country is not only something people from other regions were quick to notice, but the southern dress code was Written by Sara Weigel Graphics and Design by Tarraina Turner something that was hard for people to

Roll Tide

The University of Alabama • 5

Profile for Mosaic Magazine

Sweet Tea and The SEC  

Have you ever wondered what could make a student from the beautiful beaches of Oahu, Hawaii or California, home to some of the most prestigi...

Sweet Tea and The SEC  

Have you ever wondered what could make a student from the beautiful beaches of Oahu, Hawaii or California, home to some of the most prestigi...

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