Making the transition to a big university is life-changing and comes with so many new responsibilities. A million emotions happen at once and it seems like there are an endless amount of questions you need answered. Here are 10 things you need to know before coming to the University of Florida a.k.a the swamp to ease the nerves.
1. Dorm life comes with its ups and downs.
Living in the dorms is essential to the true college experience but it’s definitely not always pleasant. Shared bathrooms, showers, and a kitchen all come with living in the dorms and UF’s dorms aren’t the newest or the nicest. Sharing a space with another person, especially if it’s a random, is bound to bring some fights and frustration. It is crazy convenient to wake up five minutes before class and still make it on time by walking or biking but you’re going to countdown the days until you move into an apartment with your own bathroom and a shower that doesn’t require flip flops (NEVER forget your shower shoes).
2. You will never see the food you ate at Preview again.
Preview is UF’s opportunity to encourage you to purchase a meal plan and it seems to work because most freshman leave ready to purchase one. Parents find it to be most convenient because their kids don’t need to worry about finding three meals each day but the food they serve during orientation is ONLY during orientation. Forget about the fancy steak and pasta bar, that won’t be reappearing on a daily basis. Most students back out of their meal plans after one semester. It can be hard to cook for yourself and constantly try and find something to eat but you will get tired of dining hall food after week two.
3. Don’t forget you live in Florida where seasons practically don’t exist.
The most convenient way to get around campus is walking or biking, even taking the bus requires you to walk to a bus stop. There will be days that it pours and you walk into class with mascara running down your face and soaking wet hair. NEVER go anywhere without an umbrella in your backpack and check the weather before you leave your dorm everyday. You could walk into 40 degree weather wearing Nike running shorts and an oversized tee thinking it’ll be the usual hot and humid day. The heat is inevitable so be sure to dress accordingly when walking to class.
4. Coffee will become your best friend.
All-nighters WILL happen and caffeine will help you through it. The amount of work can get overwhelming and we all procrastinate at one time or another. It gets stressful but you will get through it (with the help of coffee). Don’t be surprised when you’re sitting in Newell Hall at 2 am contemplating whether or not you really need a degree while you sip on three shots of espresso.
5. There is something for everyone to get involved in.
UF has a club for everything and anything. You are bound to find a group of people that share a common interest with you. Don’t stress about making friends, go to a club meeting or apply for a leadership position! You’ll meet so many awesome people along the way and you’ll be building your resume at the same time. There are so many people with your similar interests and you haven’t met them yet. Take advantage of the opportunities because they will benefit you in the long run.
6. College is NOTHING like high school.
We all left high school with an idea of what college would be like and many of us took Dual Enrollment courses thinking it would be similar to a university. High school does NOT prepare you for UF whatsoever. Living on your own and trying to navigate a university of this size is not something you can prepare for. The class sizes are so much bigger and the professors are so much stricter. You just have to play it by ear and learn as you go.
7. Parking is nonexistent on campus.
It is evident that UF sells more decals than the amount of spots they have so you WILL spend hours driving around searching for a spot. For those of us that use our cars quite often, it is the biggest pain in the butt. Avoid using your car at all costs if you have a spot somewhere. Take the bus, walk, etc. Even scooters have a better shot of parking on campus.
8. Gainesville doesn’t get nearly enough credit.
Many people see Gainesville as boring with not much to do but this isn’t true. It is a historic town and is surrounded by activities. Take advantage of Paynes Prairie and go on a nature walk. Visit the many “mom and pop” restaurants and catch a movie on the lawn at Bo Diddley Plaza. Plan a day with friends at Ginnie Springs. If you get bored of Gainesville, you’re only an hour and a half away from Orlando.
9. Why do I hear someone yelling FTK at least once a day?
FTK (For The Kids) refers to Dance Marathon which is a HUGE deal at UF. It is an event where students registered as dancers spend 26.2 hours on their feet for those who can’t. All of the proceeds benefit Shands Children Hospital here in Gainesville. It is truly an incredible organization and experience. If you have the chance to be involved in this, DO IT!!! FTK ALL DM DAY!!
10. Remember to have fun.
It is easy to get so caught up in college and getting involved and stressing over everything. Never forget to have fun because you can only do college once. Go to football games, don’t turn down plans with your friends for no reason, and make time for yourself. Don’t go crazy with the fun and fall behind in school but don’t diminish your happiness by isolating yourself from everyone else.
The time you spend at UF will be some of the best years of your life, never let the nerves and stress get the best of you. And never forget, IT’S GREAT TO BE A FLORIDA GATOR!