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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

For about three weeks a year in December, UF becomes vacant, a school without its students. It loses its heart: the students, professors and staff who create an entire world that revolves around the university. When these people return, UF once again becomes the thriving well-oiled machine it was meant to be.

Remembering that everyone is a part of what makes the university go around is comforting. It gives students and faculty alike a place in a community of more than 40,000. To say it’s easy to get lost in the crowd seems to be an understatement. If you were to walk through the campus in the time between classes, you would see masses of people; some would be hustling, some laughing and some sluggishly getting through their day. People are all living their lives, thinking about their next paper to write or about a formal at the end of the week.

To say simply, UF is a home, filled with the most dysfunctional of families. It’s made up of people from different backgrounds and experiences, and UF wouldn’t be the same without any of them. It’s what makes coming back from a month-long break a little bit easier. It’s the opportunity to fall back into a place where you belong, where nights at the library don’t seem so long next to your favorite people or where you get to go back to your favorite club meetings every week.

UF students have to leave home every semester, wherever that home may be. Whether it’s a 20-minute drive or a 20-hour plane ride to Gainesville, leaving behind your home and your family isn’t always easy. Leaving home tends to mean you’re leaving a place of relaxation and hometown friends. Being a college student means saying goodbye to people constantly, but on the flip side, it also means saying hello constantly.

UF’s new semester isn’t something you have to dread; it’s something to look forward to because it means coming back to your second home. It’s returning to a place where you have memories on every corner, and new memories waiting in new corners. As college students, we can look at it as something fortunate that we get to experience two homes: One we are born into, and one we’ve created around ourselves.

UF needs us just as much as we, the students, need it. Without us, UF has no one rushing across Turlington Plaza, and without UF we don’t have our memories of nights spent on the floor of our freshman dorm hall. Dreading a new semester is understandable but realize some of the reasons that a new semester is a good thing. We get to continue building our home in Gainesville and setting roots that we never knew we needed.

A new home isn’t something that is made overnight, it’s something that takes time to build. It means putting yourself out there, going to different club meetings and finding new hobbies. This home is strange, filled with teenagers and young adults without any sort of supervision, but we all play our part in the family. We’ve all done what we can to better it and make it the strongest it can be.

If you’re feeling a little lonely or upset about leaving your friends and family back in your hometown, remember that UF is there to welcome you back. Your favorite Starbucks barista will be there, writing down your order before you get a chance to speak. Krishna will be there ready to pile your plate high. What makes UF a home is the students and faculty who file back every semester. We need you. You are what make UF a home, and you are what keeps UF moving.

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