Gator Walk Samantha Serbin

The University of Florida is a big and exciting place. It can seem enormous and scary for newcomers. However, it becomes a home away from home overnight.

Whether you are a freshman, a transfer student or a graduate student new to UF, there is a place for you. The thousands of opportunities the university provides allows each student to find their niche. Once you find your niche, you will find friends that will last a lifetime.

In the meantime, there are many other places to meet people including: residence halls, Greek life, club or intramural sports, on campus jobs, fitness classes, and (of course) academic courses.

When moving to a new university, residence halls are the most common place to live. They are also the first place you will see when you are moving in. You will start and end each day in your room.

You may be living in an apartment style hall like Lakeside if you are a transfer student, a communal style hall like Rawlings if you are a freshman or in your own apartment in one of the many graduate villages. Residence halls always have events going on meant to build communities and bring people together.

Resident Assistants and Area Governments work hard to create a warm and welcoming place for new students to live and learn in. Resident Assistants decorate the halls and turn seemingly boring walls into a home away from home. Area governments plan and execute activities like Carnival Nights with cotton candy, popcorn and fun games.

At the beginning of Fall 2016, Resident Assistants and the Area Government in Broward Hall worked together to create a welcoming dinner for residents. The two entities ordered catering, decorated the recreation room and played music for residents one evening during drop/add week. The dinner was a wonderful success and allowed residents to feel welcome as well as a have a chance to meet their Resident Assistants, floor mates and community.

Having friends where you live is important to feeling at home in a new and often unfamiliar place. The laugh until you cry moments, the bored to death times and the stressed to the max memories are the best ones to get you through your introduction to a new university.

These events and decorations can heavily impact a new student’s perspective of the university.

UF Housing and Residence Education employees (top) - Lakeside Residence Hall (bottom left) - Rawlings Residence Hall (bottom right)

For many students new to the University of Florida, getting involved is essential to maximizing their experience. After moving into a new place, many students check out Sorority Row or Fraternity Drive. Rush week is generally within the first month of the semester.

Getting involved in Greek life is a quick way to meet a plethora of people. Getting dressed up in semi-formal wear, walking into a room of strangers with gaping smiles and cheerfulness, and presenting yourself in the best light is essential to rushing.

The towering houses may seem daunting. However, once you join a chapter, everything gets easier.

Whether you are looking for a multicultural fraternity/sorority, a religious fraternity/sorority, a professional fraternity/sorority or a purely social fraternity/sorority, UF has them all.

Greek life allows new students to make quick connections with people they get along with, making fast friendships. It also has many perks including: meals, philanthropies, and social events.

Having a social circle with many other college students creates such an advantage. Networking is one of the most important things a student can do nowadays, and a wide social circle augments connections. A connection from a fraternity brother or sorority sister could result in a job one day.

Plus, Greek life means a lot of comfort color t-shirts!

Theta Chi Fraternity (top left) - Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority (middle top) - The Gentlemen of Chi Phi fraternity (top right) - The Ladies of Alpha Delta Pi sorority (bottom)

After meeting new people who live close by and potentially joining a fraternity/sorority it’s time to get active. If you grew up playing and loving sports, a great place to meet new people is through club and intramural sports teams.

Club teams such as field hockey, golf, baseball, lacrosse, etc. give seasoned athletes a chance to play and represent their universities.

Intramural teams are more relaxed. Whether a team is kicking up sand playing beach volleyball at Broward Outdoor Recreational Center or dribbling down the court shooting a basket as Southwest Recreational Center, intramural sports let students meet new people on teams as free agents or strengthens pre-existing friendships through competition.

Student officials, referees, and scorekeepers can even create bonds because of their position at the recreational centers.

Florida Football (top) - Florida Rugby (bottom left) - Intramural sports (bottom right)

UF offers a variety of jobs to students. Imagine leaving an intramural ultimate Frisbee game, you are probably hungry. Head to any dining location at UF and you will find student employees.

Whether you are craving a salad from Croutons, a burger from Wendy’s or a buffet from the Fresh Food Company, student employees are always there.

Student employees are everywhere in fact, and employment is a great way to meet new people on campus.

As a graduate student, tuition rates are higher and debt from undergraduate studies can be insurmountable. Graduate students can find friends in jobs like Graduate Hall Directors, Teaching Assistants, Research Aids, etc.

Undergraduate students trying to avoid debt can be found in positions like Resident Assistants and office aids.

In work situations, friendships are formed naturally through spending a lot of time together.

Some students get jobs as fitness instructors for Southwest or Student Recreational Center.

College of Journalism and Communications Research Lab (top left) - Student Employee at Library (top right) - The Broward and Rawlings community staff (bottom)

Fitness classes are popular at UF. If sports are not your calling to stay in shape, fitness classes are fun and make working out less stressful.

Classes vary from hip-hop fitness, to cycling, to total body.

Imagine waking up at 5:45 AM and walking to Student Recreational Center for a total body class. The dark and cold sky hovers over you while you walk to the gym. When you get there, you’re blind and deaf for a moment as you adjust to the bright lights and loud music.

You look around and know no one in the class. While waiting for the instructor to start, the best thing you could do is make a friend. Friends can push you to work harder, reassure you that you do not look like an idiot and show you how to do an exercise you’re unfamiliar with.

Fitness classes are thrilling and can provide new students with opportunities to stay healthy in their physical and social lives.

Yoga class (left) - Total body class (right)

In addition to physical classes, academic courses start about a week after move-in. That’s the main reason students are here, right?

UF is the best university in the state of Florida and employs some of the brightest minds in the world.

If a new student does not meet people anywhere else, they will definitely meet people in class.

A typical course load is between 12 and 15 credit hours. 12 to 15 credit hours can be anywhere from 3 to 6 different classes. Each class presents an opportunity to meet different people with different backgrounds and stories.

Class size and style of teaching may vary per professor. However, there is not one class on campus where you would not benefit from having a friend in that class. A study buddy, a tutor, a shoulder to cry on can all be acquired through meeting a friend in class.

Two different large lecture classes

If new students came to UF and decided they did not want to meet other people, their lives would show the consequences.

Students without friends or peers would suffer from being alone far too often and would not have any version of the college experience. College is all about trying new things and figuring out who you are, so meeting new people is vital!

As an incoming freshman, a transfer student or a graduate student, meeting new people and making friends is necessary and a key to accomplishing the best at UF.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain celebrates with the gator chomp in front of fans after defeating New Mexico State 61-13 in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Sep 6, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators mascot Albert does the gator chomp with fans during the first half against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Always do the Gator Chomp proudly!


Created with images by jared422_80 - "Gainesville - University of Florida - Ben Hill Griffin Stadium - View From Endzone Seats" • hyku - "Go Gators!"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.