Like any good hometown is bound to do, Knoxville has made me claustrophobic.

Maybe it's the impending date of graduation looming ever closer and the realization that my time in this city may soon come to an end – or even a sentimentality that has overcome me with memories of all the good things Knoxville has given to me.

But this year, I have grown to love it and appreciate it more than ever.

After five and a half years in this town, I finally feel like I understand Knoxville.

Going to UT, we tend to get swept up in the bubble that is college. We are perfectly tapped in to the daily occurrences of campus: who got featured on Vol Blackout this weekend, what the latest SGA meeting with dining involved, who won homecoming events this year.

But oftentimes it seems there is a disconnect between campus and the Knoxville community at large. Though we are nestled right in the heart of Knoxville, between the ever-pulsing traffic of Kingston Pike, the unknown territory of Chapman Highway and the bright and bustling downtown and Old City scenes, students still don't seem to know a lot about Knoxville.

Compared to a lot of other schools, we are actually located quite centrally in relation to the city we're settled in, but said city seems unnoticed. Though some would say UT is the heart and soul of the Knoxville community, there are plenty of other things that make up the body which are important too.

For instance, did you know last month Knoxville recently became the second city in Tennessee to expand its partner benefits to include same-sex partners as well as opposite-sex domestic partners? This makes the city of Knoxville one of the first among Southern states to push for same sex equality.

Or how about that one of the biggest social issues Knoxville is facing right now is addressing homelessness?

Knoxville currently has a 10 year plan to end homelessness, and there have been many previous attempts in the past to help end homelessness completely. The mayor's office and many other organizations are working hard on achieving this initiative.

Knoxville is also working to become one of the next great outdoor cities with an urban wilderness. There are 1,000 forested acres along Knoxville's riverfront, including 10 parks, more than 40 miles of trails, four Civil War sites and numerous stunning views.

The Legacy Parks Foundation is attempting to amass even more space so Knoxville residents can benefit from having places to play outdoors within minutes of our front yards.

We as students also don't always seem to realize Knoxville actually has a very rich history.

Although many students live in the Fort, not everyone knows that we are actually living on the site of the Battle of Fort Sanders, which lasted for only 20 minutes.

It was one of the most lopsided wins of the Civil War, with the federal government completely overrunning the Confederate attack and ensuring Knoxville as Union territory.

Somewhat unknown is also the fact that the Sunsphere was actually built for the 1982 World's Fair hosted in Knoxville. In the year's span that the World's Fair ran, more than 11 million people visited Knoxville. Ronald Reagan even opened the Fair's festivities.

We live in an awesome city. Though some of us may only be here for four years of our lives and then move on, we need to become educated and informed about our community.

Numbering about 27,000 both undergraduate and graduate students, we are a significant percentage of the Knoxville population. There is no reason we should be uninformed.

Only through understanding more about our community can we realize the benefits and opportunities that come with living here, as well as hopefully becoming more involved and engaged citizens along the way.

Go out there and see what Knoxville has to offer – you might be surprised at what you find.

Victoria Knight is a senior in microbiology. She can be reached at vknight6@utk.edu.