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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

They were first spotted in herds walking around campus during Summer A.

Newly admitted UF freshmen swiveled their heads while their lanyards swung across their chests and they surveyed their new home for the next four years, while parents walked proudly with them.

As Summer A ended, many students skipped town, which left a near-empty campus. And like a storm, waves of SUVs and minivans flooded Gainesville last week as parents helped settle their children in the dorms.

After a weeklong break, the upperclassmen returned to the city to find more cars on the road, families packed in restaurants and teenagers decked from head to toe in Gator attire.

These signs could only mean one thing: The freshmen invasion had begun.

UF is anticipating about 2,200 new students taking classes this summer, said UF spokesman Steve Orlando.

After spending the week getting used to sharing a room with another person and showering in stalls, the time had come to begin exploring for the newest batch of UF students.

Freshmen emerged from their dorms Friday and Saturday night in packs. The new students trekked along Museum Road near Fraternity Row looking for a party, while others who live near West University Avenue wandered into Midtown. Some freshmen decided to take their own nighttime campus tours.

An upperclassman spotted the moving packs of baby Gators from his car and welcomed them to campus with some banter on Museum Road Saturday night.

“Where is the party, freshmen?” he said.

“I don’t know,” said a voice from the group. “How about you drive us there?”

Touché.

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Sunday was a day for preparation as freshmen mapped out where their classes will be on the first day and purchased school supplies. The weekend came and went, and Monday kicked off the start of Summer B.

Kristi Campbell said she had a stressful commute Monday morning from her apartment at Cabana Beach.

The 18-year-old health science freshman said she was scared her bus was not going to pick her up.

Campbell went to class wearing a UF shirt, like many freshmen on their first day.

“I almost didn’t wear Gator stuff just because I didn’t want to be called a freshman,” she said. “Now, I’m just proud.”

Contact Chris Alcantara at calcantara@alligator.org.

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