Timi: GBI Programme in South Carolina

Hi everyone, I am Timi and I am writing on behalf of the first GBI cohort. This is a tripartite programmed made up of 9 students from the University of Auckland, the Chinese university of Hong Kong in Shenzhen and the University of South Carolina. One semester is spent in each university and the program starts in South Carolina.

Redirected flights, Customs detainees and Chic-fil-a.

To say the journey to South Carolina was an interesting one, would be a great understatement. Let’s start the day before departure. On the Tuesday before we were to leave, we organized a lunch with Sir Owen and all nine of us. This was a great opportunity to touch base on everything and catch up with the rest of the Cohort.

And so it begins.

Fast forward to the plane ride to Houston- all 3 of them. The original plan was for the 7 of us who were returning to NZ after the South Carolina semester to take an earlier flight and for Tom and Christina (who weren’t returning to New Zealand until after the program is over) to take a flight 30 minutes later.  So, both groups got on our own flights and everything was great. However, we then learn that 2 hours into their flight, Tom and Christina’s plane had to turn around and head back to New Zealand as something was wrong with the plane’s weather device.

So, after many hours of stress and re-booking flights, Tom and Christina finally got a flight to join us a day later. Meanwhile in Houston, the 7 of us that were left were about to drop to 5. While clearing customs, two of us discover that we don’t have all the documents needed. After what felt like hours of nervously waiting, we all reunited at chic-fil-a in the Houston airport, eating away the stress of the past 18 hours.


The two resident halls that we got offered were Maxcy (which Christina and I chose) and Thornwell (which the rest of the boys chose). Maxcy is the typical American rooming situation with a roommate, shared bathroom and all. Thornwell is more of an apartment style accommodation with your own room and kitchen area.

The first few weeks was crazy trying to get settled in and meeting the rest of the cohort. In the first couple of days, USC organized a shopping trip to target so we could buy bedding and let me tell you, target did not disappoint. We’ve also gone to a few other events like the pancake bar in Maxcy, the USC basketball games, and the full cohort had a bonding session and made dumplings together.

All in all, it’s been a great first month. We’ve had our ups and downs but if these 4 weeks have taught us anything, it’s that everything always works out in the end. Stay tuned for more updates.

Dumpling making
Photo taken by Tom on the campus tour
Brian’s apartment-style single room
Shopping for bedding at Target with Joshua
First basketball game – we won. Go Gamecocks!
Christina, an incredibly happy camper with her pancakes and chocolate milk from the pancake bar
Pre-departure lunch with Sir Owen G. Glenn
Jet-lagged and lowkey freezing but still smiling. Left to right back: Finn, Tom, Conner, Josh, Christina, Dylan. Left to right front: Brian, Timi Rico



First photo in South Carolina after long journey
I really spent a good hour cleaning my room for this photo
Christina, our Australian Meg and I at the statehouse