Gator Gram Kate Venezio

Being a new student isn't easy at any college. Being a new student at a University with over 55,000 students is even harder. But it doesn't have to be that way at UF.

About 13,000 freshman start at UF each fall, not including the students who transfer from other colleges. As a new student to the University of Florida, I realized it isn’t easy to connect with other students and make new friends. In fact, it’s easiest to feel overwhelmed and disconnected! A great way to become involved is to use Instagram, a network with over 500 million monthly users. Sharing pictures on Instagram shows your family and friends globally how truly spectacular UF is. Creating hashtags, using hashtags that are already made or tagging photos at the University of Florida are easy ways to put yourself out there. But you are a new student, so how do you know where to take pictures?

Follow this map to get to each of the photo spots.

Norman Hall tunnel

First Stop: Norman Hall tunnel, commonly known as "graffiti tunnel," was built because The College of Education was not within campus boundaries, so engineers dug a tunnel under Route 441. It also makes crossing busy 13th Street a lot safer and faster for pedestrians and bikers. This was the first thing I saw when I came to visit UF. I thought this tunnel was the coolest thing because coming from the suburbs, I never get to see graffiti and it made me feel like I was in a city, such as Manhattan. I begged my friends to take my picture in front of some of the graffiti. Your pictures here don't have to be just a TBT because the art is always changing. Students are constantly using spray paint to leave their mark and feel a part of the school. In March 2008, the tunnel was whitewashed by UF’s Grounds Department in the Physical Plant Division to rid of the graffiti. But within 24 hours, students were back with paint in hand. Try taking a picture in front of a painting that you like, or you can stand with the graffiti in the background and have the camera focus on you for a cool photo. Tag your picture at “Norman Hall Tunnel” or use a hashtag like “#normantunnel” or “#graffitigainesville.” Use a darker filter to make the colors of the wall pop! If you’re hungry for more tips – head to the next stop, The French Fries.

The french fries

The Alachua Statue, referred to as the "french fries" was built by John Henry in February 1989. The French fries stand between Marston Library and the Computer Science and Engineering Building. Before I came to UF, I had never seen this statue, but being a true gator means you've at least snapped one picture here. If you stand in front of the French Fries facing the Reitz Union, you may also be able to get the Century Tower in the background. Take a close up like this, or have your photographer stand back to show the entire statue and your OOTD, of course. Tag this photo at "Marston Science Library." Use #UFfrenchfries or something silly such as #friesbeforeguys. I love to brighten this photo with a bright, natural tone to show off Florida's sunny days. (Photo: Allison Schaper) Now turn around and head toward the Century Tower!

the century tower

The Century Tower is UF’s Big Ben. The 157-foot-tall tower was completed in 1953, an alumni’s idea to construct a memorial to honor students who were killed in World War I and World War II: “Century Tower, located in the heart of the University of Florida campus, houses a cast-bell carillon. There are fewer than 200 carillons in all of North America, and only four in the state of Florida. By definition, a carillon must have at least 23 fixed, finely tuned bells. The Century Tower Carillon has 61 bells, encompassing a range of 5 octaves, and is among the largest university carillons in North America” ( The bells act as a clock all day for staff and students on campus, ringing every 15 minutes. They often play popular songs, and it’s also a place where various music groups will hold mini free concerts. The Century Tower looks beautiful during any time of the day. I love when the century tower is snapped from up-close or far away. Try taking a picture with the tower in the middle of the screen and then one off-centered. The tower can look very different depending on your combination of time, angle and proximity to the tower. But she looks good from every angle. Using a filter that brings out the sky will give the tower a “wow” factor. I think it’s safe to say, The Century Tower is every student’s “WCW.” You’re not a gator for life, you’re a #gatorforcenturies.

plaza of the americas

The Plaza of the Americas is my favorite spot to relax and connect with nature and UF: The Plaza was named in February of 1931. At the first meeting of the International Latin American Association, students planted 21 semi-tropical trees on the plaza and dedicated them to the 21 countries invited to the meeting. The ‘Friendship Walk’ and was built under Stephen C. O'Connell's presidency in 1967. It is a brick walkway that runs through the plaza, at the time, students were allowed to each lay a brick to create its path, symbolizing the diversity of our student body. The Plaza is a favorite spot among students. The trees and open space are welcoming to anyone wanting to sleep, read, hangout or lie in hammock. The Plaza photographs very well because of the trees and grass, it looks great on any IG account. Even though the space itself is simple, there are lots of insta-worthy opportunities. Scooters line the streets with a canopy of trees shading them. This space even makes sewer steam look beautiful. "@hammock_uf" is famous for regramming student's hammock pictures! #cultured #partyintheplaza #UFhang. I love filters with a dark contrast to enhance the colors of all the trees.

Scared of instashame? Add "Gator Nation" to your bio and your photos will blow up with likes and comments. You may even get a few DMs. Show those igers that your posts are too good for a spam account, in fact your posts are so unique they can be posted with #nofilter. If your posts are as cool as you are, then you will have no problems making friends and getting connected to fellow gators. Your family and friends back home will be dying to visit.

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Katie Venezio

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