I don’t know how other students prepared for his or her freshman year, but I did extensive research. As geeky as it was, I looked up college reviews all summer before coming to UF. I was determined to prepare myself for everything college would throw at me. It turns out that no amount of reading could compare to the real experience.
I spent months perusing dorms on the Internet before I arrived. I liked UF Housing on Facebook and would look at its photos of the dorms. I eagerly waited for friends attending summer term to post pictures of themselves in their dorm rooms just so I could take a peek of what it really looked like. I was convinced I would be in a tiny space, and honestly, I was afraid of the whole communal bathroom situation. But I was pleasantly surprised.
I live in Broward, and I think the rooms feel bigger than I thought they would be. Of course, they don’t compare in any way to a full sized bedroom, but I was prepared for a lot worse than what I found. I was also very nervous about meeting my roommate for the first time. We met online through RoomSurf, a website dedicated to matching up students based on a survey. We matched up 100 percent, but I was still doubtful. It’s one thing to agree on how cold to keep the room, it’s quite another to actually like each other. We are essentially different people, but we get along very well. There is never a dull moment in our room! My roommate is a spur of the moment kind of person so we can easily end up having hamburgers delivered at 1 a.m.
I have also come to know the other girls living on my floor, and I really like having friends who are only one door down. Whenever I want to hang out or go get something to eat, they’re only a knock away and that is amazing.
The bathroom situation was what I was really dreading. To my pleasant surprise, I adjusted within a week. After a couple of days, it didn’t bother me to pack up my shower caddy and trudge down the hall. I quickly discovered which shower was my favorite. Now using the bathroom is no big deal.
Academics were the one aspect of college I wasn’t worried about. I have always liked school, and I was very excited about pursuing my major. I have come to find that college classes are very different from high school classes. In high school, there was homework assigned every day, and if it wasn’t turned in, there was always the possibility of turning it in late. Now the homework is assigned and then not due for several days because that class doesn’t meet again. Although we were provided a syllabus in high school, there was never a complete breakdown of everything that was going to be done in class, so there was really no way to do work ahead of time. Now I can look at my syllabi and know exactly what homework is due when and when a paper is going to be due and even when my finals will be. I enjoy knowing all of this ahead of time. There are no surprises and no tricks, unless my professor suddenly decides to give a pop quiz. Of course, this means I have to hold myself accountable to a greater extent than before. But I enjoy the changed academic setting; it makes me feel like more of an adult.
The one aspect of college I was the most apprehensive about was the social scene. I already knew that Gainesville has a lot to offer, and I didn’t know what kind of person I would turn out to be. I imagined an entire life for myself in which I would study during the week, receive wonderful grades, and then spend the weekend out on the town with my roommate and friends. It turns out that while that is what some people do, it’s not exactly what I do. I do go out with friends, but I am not the partier I hoped to be.
I wanted that glamorized college lifestyle portrayed so often in movies and television shows. But that’s not for everyone, and it turns out that it is not entirely for me. I enjoy going out with my friends, but I don’t need a frat party or a night in Midtown to consider my weekend a success. Just laughing and having fun is enough for me, lame as some people might see it. I have met enough people to know that everyone is different and that I will find my niche. Soon it won’t matter to me if I went out on a Friday night or not. All that will matter is if I am happy.
When I arrived at UF, I thought I was ready for anything. I have since realized that there is no way someone can be 100 percent ready for everything that happens. I was counting down the days until my move-in day, but then I felt homesick the first two weeks here. I wanted to be a great student, but I’ve found that it’s too easy to hit the snooze button and not go to a morning class sometimes.
The bottom line is while I’ve never experienced anything as tumultuous as going to college, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.