Unfortunately for out-of-state students at the University of Florida, theres struggles that come before classes even start are more invasive, jarring and downright obnoxious than even the worst classes at UF. While everyone knows you look forward to studying on the beach (With Seagulls? As if!) and perfecting your tan (the nearest good beach is a good two hours away), learn what you have to go through at an out-of-state student.
Life at Florida is great, but everything from food shopping to clothes shopping changes when you move in from out-of-state.
1. Publix, Where Paying is(n’t) a Pleasure
For many of us, natives especially, Publix can be seen as nothing but a blessing. “I definitely noticed how friendly Publix people were and they go out of their way to help,” out-of-state sophomore, Morgan Browning said. Let’s not forget that glorious chicken tender Pub sub. So, you have your wonderful grocery-shopping experience and a yummy lunch, then you head towards the check-out line where your struggle begins. All those delicious freshly made Publix house specials you gleefully tossed into your cart add up at the register quickly. Before you know it, you might find yourself out $100. At Publix, shopping might be a “pleasure,” but only if you’re not the one paying.
2. Sweat. ‘Nuff Said.
Woe to any poor, out-of-state freshman who started their UF experience during Summer B. “One of the worst parts about Florida weather is how you’re always sweating. I have to shower after every class,” freshman Clare Goj said. Welcome to a world where you’re covered in a layer of sweat the second you step outside any time after 9 a.m. The sun blinds you and you can literally feel the heat beating onto your back while walking between classes. Out-of-staters with long hair? I can promise you’ll take a trip to the store to buy hair ties and schedule an appointment with Locks of Love before week two. Remember how your mom would slather you in sunscreen during those summer beach vacations? You might want to start that up again, too.
3. Actual Alligators
Oh yes, the stuff of Midwesterners’ nightmares cozy right up to campus. You can usually spot at least one gator in the lake behind the Reitz Union, but once, I even saw an adult gator just chillin’ in the grass behind the parking garage on Gale Lemerand and Museum. While this might seem like an exotic treat for out-of-state students, once you’re looking down the nose of a fully-grown, 6-foot long gator, you might change your mind. “We notice a baby alligator through the window making its way towards the house and before we could say anything, the gator found a little shelter underneath her mom’s car,” freshman Allana Alamban said about a time at her friend’s house. “It was still funny but I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing,” she said. Beware, of the gators, Gators!
4. What’s “Hurricane Season?”
Florida’s wild weather deserves two spots on this list. Rarely does Florida have a “little sprinkle” or a simple “shower.” Oh no. Prepare for torrential downpours. From June to November, forgetting your umbrella or rain coat is a death wish. “The weather is crazy,” freshman David Miller said. “I used to live in Oklahoma and it’s always clear there but here it’s like they say, four seasons every day.” During Florida storms wind speeds are incredible. It literally rains sideways. What does this mean? Your umbrella will turn inside out at least once and it’ll be embarrassing and you’ll be left with a red face and soaked pants.
5. Florida Fashion
Dressing for the weather can be as much of a struggle as the weather itself. Take January for example, one of our most confusing months. Temps might be in the 60s as you leave for your 8 a.m., hit 80 by 2 p.m. and drop back into the 60’s as soon as the sun goes down. “The difficult part is how quickly weather changes because I could have one outfit for the morning and have to change into something completely different for the afternoon,” freshman Erin Kastner said. Do you wear shorts in preparation for the midday heat? Or do you just accept a few hours of more sweating in favor of comfort when you walk back home from the Club West at midnight?
6. That “Florida Man”
Out-of-state Gator, let me introduce you to the Florida Man. He’s been in the new more than even the most famous celebrities, surely. Here are just a few examples of his exploits through the years: “Drunk, Machete-Wielding Florida Man Chases Neighbor on Lawnmower,” “Naked Florida Man Drove with Wires Attached to Genitals” and my personal favorite, “Florida Man Dances on Top of Police Cruiser to Ward Off Vampires.” “I didn’t know vampires were offended by Hall and Oates,” said freshman Allana Alamban. And every headline begs the question: Is there something in the water here? Out-of-state students must adjust to our “normal” news (instead of bringing it up as an example of “craziness” in class) or risk a disgruntled eye roll from teachers and students alike.
7. Oldies (Not on the Radio)
Gainesville has a population of about 50,000 college students to fill its restaurants and shops, but once you get off campus, be prepared to see wrinkles… lots of wrinkles.“Life slows down here,” freshman Lauren Griffin said. I think that’s the best way to put it, Lauren. A restaurant that looked nice online can turn into a retirement community dining hall depending on the people next to you. Traffic comes to a standstill and check-out lines at stores take longer than you need to lose all five lives in candy crush.
8. Terrible Drivers (Who Happen to be Oldies)
If you’re an out-of-state student with a car, give yourself at least an extra 10 minutes to get anywhere. Murphy’s Law tells us that you will get stuck behind that one person doing 40 in a 50. Another thing to look out for? Well, let’s just say some of us are very forgetful and never seem to remember we have blinkers. “A very large portion of Florida drivers drift into other lanes and a lot of them don’t use blinkers ever. A lot weave into really tight spaces and make everyone else brake super hard and then get road rage… and then they leave like eight car spaces between each other at a stoplight,” said freshman Josh Ogden.
9. Political Opinions
One UF freshman, Lauren Griffin, spent some time in the panhandle before she started school at UF. “The panhandle is solidly Republican. We put Bush and Trump in the White House because they won the panhandle… so I was shocked by the more liberal environment of UF,” she said. This might not be a struggle per se, but the diversity might take a bit of adjustment depending on where you’re from. The best advice I can give is to keep your mind open and enjoy learning about different views, even if that might mean enduring an endless (but hopefully respectful) debate among a few of your friends or tuning into the news once in a while.
10. Southern Hospitality
Any out-of-state student from the north quickly discovers that southern hospitality is no myth. It might come as a shock for those ice cold New Yorkers, but the overwhelming majority of our people are friendly and willing to help you. The first day of each semester is one of the happiest. People get excited to meet their classmates and introduce themselves. “I love UF because I really wanted to go to a big school that still feels like a community and I definitely feel that here,” freshman Shalaka Konjalwar said. Down here, the sunny weather gives us all bright personalities (so let us melt that frown, you Vermont out-of-state Gators). If you find yourself unable to cope with the struggles, the sunshine state always lends a helping hand.