Any student at the University of Florida knows that certain rites of passage embody one’s experience. Whether it’s getting towed by Superior Towing, going on your first woodser or having a mental breakdown over Honorlock, UF is nothing BUT interesting. No matter how long you’ve been a Gator, there’s a list of unspoken, must-do things that every UF student feels expected to partake in.
Buckle up and prepare for some flashbacks with the top 21 things to do before graduating from UF.
21. Running Stadiums
Yes, it’s as painful as it sounds. Running stadiums in the Swamp embodies a tradition at UF, and any fitness-oriented student can tell you that this grueling workout session will leave your legs burning for days after. You definitely can’t graduate from UF without hyperventilating on the stadium’s steps at least once. Besides, the view of campus from the top looks amazing. Make sure to bring your go-to workout buddies, Hydro Flask and chug that pre-workout ahead of time.
20. Celebrating a Sign Night
Turning 21 calls for a huge milestone, and UF students know exactly how to make it exciting. Especially in college towns, students love throwing “sign nights” for their friends where they make a list of 21 dares to complete before the night ends. It’s tradition to hit midtown, rave at Fats and show the world that you finally feel 21. Although you probably remember most of your birthdays, don’t expect to remember this one.
19. Pulling an All-Nighter at Lib West
Pulling an all-nighter at Library West seems like one of the most common activities to take part in as a UF student. It’s a no-brainer why there’s a Starbucks attached to the library: UF students need caffeine almost as much as they need those straight A’s. No matter which day of the week, you can always catch UF students pacing around the study rooms, chugging their fifth cup of cold brew or experiencing a full-blown mental breakdown about an upcoming biochem exam.
18. Dropping Organic Chemistry
After spending probably one too many nights at Marston Science Library, you probably want to take part in one of the most important rites of passage before graduating from UF. You guessed it— dropping organic chemistry! Yes, the weed-out class all wannabe STEM majors hope to master (but not all can). This class makes you feel like a rock hit you in the head. Consecutively. For the whole semester. It hurts. It feels painful, but you’re guaranteed to bond with these classmates like no one else. They see you at your worst, and better yet, they fail right alongside you.
17. Getting Towed by Superior Towing
I know this feels like a touchy subject for most UF students, which explains why it must happen to almost everyone before graduating. The good thing about this one (there’s not many) is that getting towed seems almost inevitable. You won’t even have to try! It feels as though nothing makes your heart race more than gazing over at the spot where you previously parked your car and your car being nowhere in sight. An experience truly like no other.
16. Hanging with Your Friends While Getting COVID Tested
This scary, exhilarating, action-packed activity seems impossible to match. Getting COVID tested appears as a newly acquired rite of passage for UF students, and it makes it even better when spent with your besties.
“My roommate and I have gotten tested for COVID together each time,” sophomore Megan Ngo said. “The Curtis Phillips Center is now our safe space.”
What could possibly feel better than spitting in a tube and staying COVID cautious? Honestly, that seems pretty unbeatable to me.
15. Donating to Dance Marathon
This popular fundraiser prides itself as a fan-favorite, and why not do it for the kids? Any student can tell you that there seems to be absolutely no way around this one. Each year, college students flood their social media accounts with a variety of graphics, challenges and stories about fundraising for the miracle children at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.
“I dumped my entire paycheck into my Dance Marathon DonorDrive,” sophomore Callie Carpinteri said.
People who love Dance Marathon inspire UF students to dance their hearts out for the kids who can’t. So, if you get a Venmo request with the words “FTK,” always make sure to donate.
14. Riding in a SNAP
Way better than Ubers, SNAP vans take you where you need to go on campus for free. If you had ever lived in the dorms, we assume you called SNAP for a quick lift to either the library or a pregame happening at fraternity row.
“I used to always ride SNAPs,” sophomore Nicole Straight said. “I actually made out in a SNAP once.”
Listen to some fun jams, make small talk with the SNAP drivers and take in this iconic experience that’s essential for all UF students.
13. Experiencing a Woodser
Woodsers are a classic Greek-life tradition at UF, so it seems absolutely mandatory to attend one before graduating. Now imagine this: you sit next to your date on a school bus while driving into the middle of the woods. It’s you, a giant group of fellow students, the woods and some really good music.
“Don’t go on a woodser sober,” sophomore Elisabeth Kern said.
This 11/10 experience will leave you wondering why you felt happier during the woodser than ever before.
12. Getting Gatorade From the Infirmary
Yes, you heard it right. UF students love this classic freshman tradition of getting free Gatorade on campus, and I personally remember thinking how cool it felt to attend a school that quite literally invented Gatorade. And UF makes sure to flex that whenever possible. Feeling thirsty? Go to the infirmary. Not because you feel sick, but because it feels impossible to resist that refreshing Gatorade. However, only the orange and blue flavors are available.
11. Taking Someone on a Date to Paynes Prairie
We may not have the Eiffel Tower, but Paynes Prairie prides itself on being a sentimental and tender spot to take your significant other. Being a UF student means your Instagram feed is filled with sunset pictures of cute couples. But if you’re single, look no further! Paynes Prairie also makes the perfect place to spend quality time with your best friends. And who knows? You may even spot some alligators. Fitting, right?
10. Taking a Study Break at Midtown
Whenever you feel overwhelmed with schoolwork or just need a night off, simply head to Midtown and unwind like most UF students do. Before graduating, expect a night of dancing with your friends, slipping on the wet floor and making the two hours of waiting in line worth it. After the pandemic, though!
9. Taking a RedCoach Bus Home
Any freshman at UF will advise you that taking the bus to and from college seems like an unmatched experience that most certainly feels memorable. Many students don’t bring cars up to college (I mean seriously, how can you with the terrible on-campus parking), but you can always count on RedCoach buses to save the day. Who’s to say, you may even meet your soulmate on the bus! The possibilities feel endless.
8. Having a Mental Breakdown on Honorlock
Don’t deny it: every UF student journeys through it. Taking a challenging, heart-palpitating exam over Honorlock compels you to send a personal apology to your proctor. Similar to “Spotify Unwrapped,” I believe they should send UF students an “Honorlock Unwrapped” to see all of the clips of you breaking down into tears during those physics exams that quite literally obliterated you.
“My Honorlock crashed,” sophomore Mahalia Gourdet said. “I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Hopefully your proctor sends you tissues next time!
7. Putting Headphones in While Walking Through Turlington
When there seems to be no other route than walking through Turlington, UF students speed-walk, put their headphones in and look into the abyss. Often, we do this to avoid the people tabling in Turlington. So, whether you pretend to talk to someone over the phone or turn your music all the way up, every UF student at one point or another has attempted to avoid getting accosted by the students tabling in Turlington.
6. Switching Your Major Three Times
Even if you feel dead set on a major, I guarantee you will change it at least a few times before you graduate. It’s completely normal to change your major from zoology to journalism to biochemistry in the span of a week. Right?
5. Fighting for a Spot at a Local Coffee Shop
You can catch my friends and I doing this basically every other day. Whether it be Wyatt’s, Concord Coffee, Pascals or even Starbucks, any student would argue that it seems nearly impossible to find a seat. For some students, ordering an iced latte to-go seems like the only move. However, for true UF students, it feels almost like a fight to the death to see how fast one can secure a spot.
4. Having Your Meme Go Viral on Swampy Memes
UF Swampy Memes: the ultimate pick-me-up and, oftentimes, the only source of serotonin during those killer exam weeks. Going viral on this meme-filled Facebook group makes any UF student an absolute icon. It may seem difficult to go viral, but all UF students should attempt this before walking across the stage during graduation.
3. Survive Living in a Dorm
If you managed to survive a whole year in a dorm like Rawlings or Jennings, you probably deserve financial compensation. I’m totally kidding (not really, though). Despite acquiring frequent colds and enduring communal bathrooms, living in a dorm is arguably one of the most memorable parts about UF. You probably made your closest friends from getting a random roommate or constantly being around people. The idea of living in a dorm probably made you feel nervous at first, but the experience is something that all Gators needed.
2. Decking Out in UF Merch
It seems like no coincidence that UF merchandise basically makes up any Gator’s entire closet. Tank tops, bumper stickers, sweatshirts and even boxers, you name it! Students own it. We like to deck out in merch not only here in Gainesville, but anywhere we go.
Who would miss the opportunity to flex on everyone at home that you attend UF? Catch any student carrying around their UF keychain or showcasing a gazillion Gator stickers on their laptop. Students basically bleed orange and blue. If you say the word “FSU” around Gators, I recommend sprinting away as fast as you can.
1. Screaming Your Heart Out During Football Games
Nothing screams “I love UF” like students and alumni cheering loudly during Gator football games. Rain or shine, virtual or in-person, the orange-and-blue community never fails to show up and show out for their favorite team. Because to us, UF feels like much more than a university. The school prides itself on embodying a home, a community and a place where nobody truly wants to leave. So, whether you’re graduating soon or just starting as a freshman, cheer for the Gators with your entire heart and make the most out of your time here at UF. It goes by insanely quickly.