Like thousands of others, starting college both excited and terrified me. While I would still be attending in-state, I was moving to a town five hours south of me. What made things nerve-wracking was that only about 10 people at my school were coming to the same college as me. I knew that in order to gain that same feeling of friendship I’d have to branch out and try something new. I wanted to join an organization that would push me out of my comfort zone.
That organization ended up being one that I’d wanted to join the minute I’d set foot on campus—the Preview Staff.
UF calls their college orientation Preview. Students come through a two-day orientation. Along the way, they stay in a residence hall for a night and register for their first term of classes. The Preview Staffers or “Staffers” for short are the driving force behind Preview. Staffers help students decide on what they want to register and serve as a mentor. I loved my Preview experience and I knew that I wanted to give that same energy right back. Plus, all of the former Staffers look like they are close to each other. What better way to learn about the campus and make friends than join the Staff? I was fortunate to apply for and got accepted into the staff as a freshman and was so excited the day I received the acceptance email.
I knew the journey would be long but worth it.
The Staff came together in December. Just before the start of the spring semester, we went on a retreat to get to know each other. It took some warming up but by the end of the retreat, the team began to come together. We all had to take an 8:30 a.m. class as well, which also helped us bond because we had to be up so early. As if we didn’t see enough of each other through class, we constantly hung out. It became a regular event to have a study or lunch date after class would end. We also loved taking embarrassing Snapchats of each other whenever we saw another Staffer on campus.
Knowing that we all shared the common goal of welcoming the UF Class of 2023 brought us closer because we were so passionate about the same thing. When it was time to move back down to Gainesville for the summer, everyone could hardly wait. Sure, the thought of giving up my summer vacation made me nervous. However, I knew that it would fly by thanks to the friends I had made on Staff. We were all there to support and uplift each other both during and after each session.
Getting adjusted to being around the Staffers 24/7 took some getting used to.
After all, it’s hard to navigate a community bathroom with three stalls and close to 20 girls on a floor. However, we all fell into a routine and before we knew it, it was just like we were in the spring semester again. The friendships we began in the spring have grown since we mostly see each other during the week. We celebrated the first weekend of the summer by carpooling and having a huge pool party.
I quickly learned that anytime I needed anything—a ride to Publix, some laundry detergent and even superglue—someone on Staff was willing to lend a helping hand. Through bonding with the Staff, I also know what it means to be a true team player. Some parts of the job are not always fun. Stuffing bags and lugging signs up and down flights of stairs become frustrating after a while. However, I know that every Staffer has their unique set of responsibilities and they’re always willing to spring into action.
Now as this summer is hitting its midpoint and Preview ends at the end of July, I could not imagine my college experience without the Staffers.
I know that no matter how I am feeling someone will always listen and lend a helping hand. We do everything together—whether we get brunch, venture around Gainesville or continue our weekly tradition of watching movies in the common area of our residence hall. I knew I didn’t need to be afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone because all of them are there waiting to support and cheer me on. I know that I have my Staffers to rely on when the fall semester comes. This makes me excited and prepared to start my sophomore year. I can’t wait to keep in touch through the years to come and be lifetime friends—even if we only spent a summer together.