In the nights before leaving for college, I laid awake trying to figure out the best way to navigate the University of Florida campus. How on Earth would I ever find my class buildings? Thinking about how devastating it was to leave my friends from home didn’t help calm my thoughts either.
Leaving a high school of 1,500 people and transitioning to a university of 60,000 other students, was no less than extremely daunting.
Within a few days of arriving, I began to have a more generalized idea of where things were on campus. I found my lecture halls and where the best Chick-Fil-A was served. I knew how to recognize parts of the campus that meant I was nearby and even a couple shortcuts to shave off a few minutes for those hurried walks to class. As it turns out, navigating the grounds of the college was the least of my worries. I soon realized that seeing a familiar face every now and then makes where you grew up feel like home.
Going to college made me feel like the smallest fish in the biggest pond there ever has been. Back home, you could not go to Publix at 9:30 p.m. in your pajamas to buy ice cream without running into at least one of your elementary school teachers. The streets of the University of Florida offer no familiar faces in sight. This challenges new students to make new friends.
Universities provide a number of places to plug in and make friends if you choose to get out there and make new friends, join clubs and attend events. Myself from a small town didn’t understand that college was a place where you not only work to make grades, but work to make friends. I began my college experience thinking friends would just come to me as they did in high school but, that proved incorrect.
Initially, I chose to pour myself into my studies.
I scheduled times to get homework done with due dates a month or more away. I left no time for simple things like cooking a nice meal or doing a face mask. The world revolved around me but I didn’t move. It took me until the middle of the first semester to realize that you can’t only study. It will literally bore you into oblivion. I knew I needed to choose a career path and dive right into doing things that would help me reach my goals, that included making friendships with individuals who shared similar interests as I did. Even just going to the gym helped me feel more connected with the college and motivated me to do better with how I initially treated myself.
The transition to college certainly doesn’t classify as easy. I’ve learned to take it easy and to keep working on self-love. The key to making sure that your college experience classifies as both exciting and educational remains by making friends and attending events. Although most students starting at the University of Florida actually still feel the same “senioritis” they were feeling at the end of their senior year of high school, binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy in your dorm will not make college feel like home.
Getting a jump start on your assignments and taking time for yourself will improve how you feel about your new life. From personal experience, the University of Florida solely dictates on your perspective. It can seem pretty lonely in a new place without people supporting you through the treacherous climb towards a college degree. However, with the right people beside you, any place can feel like home—even this scary ole swamp.