Guided by Warm Charm at the University of South Carolina

Ali Giaudrone
4 min readMar 21, 2022


Just a couple blocks from the South Carolina State House, we enter through one of two openings in the brick “Horseshoe Wall” that once protected the campus from burning during the Civil War. The cozy atmosphere invites us in.

A brick path leads us into a tree-lined park setting where two centuries of pastel-colored history surround the Horseshoe, the long, U-shaped green space of the original college. The wintry day is brisk as we wander through a very walkable campus.

An enthusiastic first-year student takes us on a tour, eager to show us his school, tell of its history, and share his experiences—and point out his favorite açai bowl haunts.

Later we meet Nick, a professor Caden met on Twitch and online FIFA. During lunch, he tells us about the Sports Management program—the country’s best program of its kind. He then guides us on an insider’s look into the School that provides students with post-graduate work experiences. While some students worked at the Beijing Winter Olympics, others prepared to go to the UK for British football.

The campus is vibrant. Students bustle between classes; some relax on benches; others crowd into Starbucks where we stop for warm drinks. Over the course of the day, we experience southern hospitality at the University of South Carolina where we feel equally welcomed and impressed.

Columbia serves as both the state capital of South Carolina and a college town. Centrally located within the state, the city is a just couple of hours’ drive from Charleston and the Atlantic shores. First established within a single building (Rutledge College) in 1801, the University of South Carolina now has several satellite campuses throughout the state. Today, UofSC’s main campus encompasses over 350 acres in downtown Columbia.

The campus artfully blends the old architecture with more modern styles. The original peach-toned Federalist-style buildings (some brick), popular in the early 19th century, surround the Horseshoe. Late 19th-century pastel-hued or brick Neoclassical era structures are identified by their white colonnaded porticos often topped with a triangular pediment. Post World War II Mid-Century Modern and Brutalist architecture prioritized function over form, while newer Contemporary and LEED-certified building applications of this new millennium incorporate technology and sustainability.

Gamecock pride, personified by Cocky the mascot, is evident in support of its D1 athletics program—particularly strong in women’s basketball. Some students engage in Carolina’s relatively small Greek system of fraternities and sororities.

Most of all, the university’s educational excellence stands at the forefront. We were impressed by the school’s dedication to both quality academics and post-grad opportunities within programs balanced between esteemed published academia who explore new concepts and prominent professionals with applied practical experience.

As the day wanes, the university’s essence feels apparent: esteemed, but not ostentatious; sophisticated without arrogance. The late-day light casts a warm glow over the Horseshoe as warm and inviting as Carolina itself.

Take a closer look at what makes a University of South Carolina education special. Explore campus. Get a taste of student life.

Visit the University of South Carolina


  • We stayed at the Graduate Columbia located in a historic complex next to campus.
  • The Hyatt Place near the State House is in a great location on Gervais, a lively street.


  • Downtown on Gervais St, Di Vino Rosso serves Northern Italian cuisine… and wine, of course. I ordered the Pappardelle Bolognese: fresh, wide pasta with a thick red sauce of wild boar and Italian sausage.
  • Downtown, just off Gervais St, the Blue Marlin serves Low Country southern food with locally-sourced seafood where I ordered their Award Winning Shrimp & Grits.
  • In the Shandon neighborhood, Backstreets Grill serves modern-American with a southern flair. It was the perfect lunch spot where I enjoyed a fried fish po’ boy: a southern sandwich, traditionally from Louisiana.
  • Also downtown on Gervais St, the ever-popular Kaminsky’s Dessert Cafe pies, cakes, cobblers, and cookies to all ages with an extensive drink menu of milkshakes, martinis, coffees, steamers, and spirits. My favorite was the key lime pie with a Cuban coffee. Delicious.

Originally published at on March 21, 2022.



Ali Giaudrone

Architectural Designer | Writer | Photographer | Traveler | Artist — Mother of 2 soccer players | Lover of food, language and culture —