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Thursday, May 23, 2024

This week, we thought it would be nice to take a quick breather from the usual political commentary the editorial section is home to. Instead, with Fall semester just around the corner, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on how lucky we all are to be a part of The Gator Nation and to appreciate how great it is to be a Florida Gator.

Coming to UF for the first time freshman year felt like a fantasy for many incoming Gators. We got chills while driving up to campus, and the excitement we felt while moving into our dorm rooms was unlike any other. We will never forget our first class, our first football game, our first party or our first all-nighter at the library.  

For some of us, coming to UF was never really the plan. Plenty of us had high hopes that our futures involved ivy-lined brick buildings and snowy winters. However, reality hit toward the end of high school when we found out just how much out-of-state tuition really cost — let alone tuition at a private university. Does that mean we settled when we became a Gator? No. It just means that we needed a little push in order to appreciate UF and realize where we belonged.

Other Gators came out of the womb sporting orange and blue and grimacing at Florida State University’s garnet and gold. Everyone in their family before them has been a Gator, and they grew up in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. For these students, there was never a doubt in their mind that, come high-school graduation, they’d be calling Gainesville their new home.

After freshman year, the initial excitement of becoming a Gator has somewhat dulled. Challenging classes, cramming sessions at Marston Science Library and some questionably fuzzy nights spent at Midtown start to wear you down after a while. Once you’ve been here for a few years, UF starts to lose it’s Disney World-like effect, and before you know it, it starts to feel like the real world.  

Dear reader, please, do not let this happen to you.

As Fall semester nears, we have a chance for renewal. We are given a brilliant opportunity to rekindle those feelings of elation and gratitude for the fact that we are going to one of the greatest schools in the country. We have a chance to approach this semester and this school year with re-established excitement and positivity about what the future holds.

Sure, nothing can beat the feeling of the many milestones and triumphs we experienced in our first few months, but by trying to revive the freshman in all of us, we will have a happier and more successful year.

At no other point in your life do you live within walking distance of your best friends, nor is it acceptable to go out partying on a Monday night. At no other point in your life will you have the opportunity to learn alongside other passionate, driven and hardworking students. At no other point will you be a UF student. These years truly are the best of our lives, and we need to do our best this year to not take them for granted.

Instead of dreading your 8:30 a.m. class, remember how great it feels to make your own schedule. Instead of starting a fight with your rather unkempt roommate, remember how lucky you are to live with your best friends and to have the rent covered by your parents. Instead of crumbling under the stress of classes, internships and involvement, remember what a unique time this is in your life and how the hard work you put in now will pay off later.

Remember how lucky we are to be Florida Gators and how lucky we are to still have time left in Gainesville. Let’s make the most of it.

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