A Southern new year

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One of the things that allowed me to stay sane during finals week was the knowledge that I would be going back home to Georgia over winter break. Thoughts of Southern comfort food, real sweet tea, and reunions with high school friends kept me from weeping over my piles of index cards and seven-page essays. After I realized at SFO that I had forgotten to bring my earphones for the four-hour flight and that I was walking around with mascara on one eye, I hoped the rest of my 10-day trip would be far less dramatic.

Going back to Newnan, Ga., as a nonresident left me asking my friends annoying questions such as “Was that building there before?,” “Why are there so many people here?” and “Did that kid go to high school with us?” Trips to our town’s mini mall area, Ashley Park, walking around the festively decorated downtown and eating at places such as Waffle House, Chick-fil-A and Redneck Gourmet brought back nostalgic memories of high school. But nostalgia couldn’t take away from the excitement I felt of driving up to Athens, Ga., home to the University of Georgia, and spending New Year’s Eve there. It was exceptionally weird seeing UGA students knowing I almost became one of them and could have been donning red and black instead of the blue and gold I am so accustomed to now.

On New Year’s Eve, downtown Athens was full of life and teeming with college students from UGA as well as colleges from around the area wanting to participate in the night bar-hopping scene Athens is famous for. The freezing cold night didn’t stop anyone from wearing tiny disco balls as dresses (including myself). There was literally bar after bar after bar on every street, something I had never witnessed in my college career or seen anywhere else I’ve previously traveled to. Having never participated in the nightlife in Georgia before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a night I will probably never forget.

Here are things that definitely happened:

1. I watched a drunk guy get tackled to the ground by cops.

2. I watched a girl steal a salt shaker from one of the bars and hide it in her bra.

3. Every bar television was tuned to some football game or another, forcing us to miss the actual countdown to the brand new year.

4. All the taxi-shuttles were full by the end of the night, and people were stranded outside in the cold, hoping for a miracle taxi to save them from potential frostbite.

5. People were banging on the windows of a late-night cookie shop for reasons I will never understand.

6. I met people who were pretending to be famous basketball players to hit on unsuspecting girls.

7. And finally, when we did get into a warm taxi-shuttle, I witnessed a girl getting tragically punched in the head by another girl who refused to pay the $10 for the ride.

I was told people are far less crazy in Athens when it’s not such a big event such as New Year’s, but I had to ask myself several times whether I had signed up for an MTV reality show without knowing it. All in all, it was a pretty interesting night full of fascinating people. I had a great time with friends and had one of the most memorable New Year’s Eves of my entire life.

I was most definitely sad to leave the wonderful Peach State I was raised in and to leave my friends behind for a fresh new semester at Cal. Where am I going to find real sweet tea now? Only serious suggestions, please.