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Thursday, July 07, 2022

I’m sure most of us received an inundation of suggestions at the beginning of freshman year. “Go to the bat houses at dusk!” “Go to Indie Night at The Atlantic!” “Go to at least one football game!”

There are so many recommendations thrown at us and some you can automatically rule out. If you’re not big on clubs, then you don’t care what The Atlantic is doing. If you’re terrified of flying winged animals, then the bat houses is the last place you want to be around sunset.

I talked to some of my friends and hall mates and compiled a few recommendations of things to do before freshman year ends.

Go to a sporting event. Obviously, it’s too late for me to recommend a football game, but there are other things going on. I’m not a sports person by any means, but I would definitely say try a game or meet of anything at least once. Nothing beats the insane vibe of a football game, but there’s still baseball, gymnastics, lacrosse, softball, tennis, and track and field. Join the crowd decked out in orange and blue, cheer for the Gators until you lose your voice and just let yourself get swept up in the atmosphere.

Go to a cultural event at least once. I was not in First Year Florida and wasn’t required to go to a diversity event, but I tried several cultural events just because it was something new. I went with my friend to Hillel for Shabbat services, which is the Jewish religious ceremony that is somewhat equivalent to going to a Christian church for services. I also accompanied another friend to a probate for a multicultural fraternity. I had never seen anything like it. It was very cool and can open your eyes to something brand new.

Go out at least once. By this I mean, go out at night when everyone else is out, too. Even you feel like that’s not what you enjoy, try it at least once before you write off forever. Even if you can’t muster up the courage or desire to walk into a club or party, just stroll from Midtown to downtown to see what’s going on. Gainesville is very different at night, and it isn’t fair to snub an entire aspect of college without checking it out first. That being said, I don’t go out all the time so I’m not an expert. But I think Gainesville is worth checking out at night. If nothing else, go eat at a restaurant downtown one night while everyone is out and about and people watch (I recommend The Top, the hamburgers are awesome).

Explore the campus. This is your school and presumably will be your school for the next three or four (or more) years. I think you should know campus well enough to give directions to any major area. Even if you don’t have classes in the physics building, you should know where it is. On a nice day or quiet afternoon, just walk around campus and enjoy the scenery. Go from corner to corner and hit everything in between. I’m surprised by the number of people I encounter who don’t where anything is on campus besides their class building and the nearest Starbucks. I understand it’s a little more difficult for those living off campus; they’re not always here and aren’t walking through campus to get to a dorm. But it’s still worth knowing what your school looks like. Each area is different and worth seeing at least once.

Freshman year is almost over. If you feel like you had enough experiences doing something completely new or different, consider these suggestions. The worst that can happen is that you’re bored for a little bit. Try to step out of your comfort zone and broaden your horizons.

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