There are plenty of wonderful restaurants, events, and speakers to experience at University of Florida, but there are other important things to do and know that might just fall under the radar.
1.) Know the Easy General Education Classes
Whenever you’re a baby gator, no matter how much credit from high school you have, you will probably be taking some baby classes. It is important to know which of these classes are the easiest because being away from home is difficult transition, and you will want some comfortable buffer for your GPA. But, be careful not to burn all of your gen. eds. at the beginning of your college career! You’ll want to save some so that when you are bogged down with senior level classes, internships, and job finding stress, you can have at least one easy A. The classic gen. eds. are the Grandeur that Was Rome. Plants, Plagues, and People, Man’s Food, Extreme Weather, and Intro to Sociology,
2.) Try Krishna Lunch
Every day of the week, including the rainy ones, “Hare Krishnas” from the big-blue house across from campus bring vegan food for lunch. It is “free,” but with a required donation of $5, which is reasonable because you can eat as much as you want! Some people even bring Tupperware to take more food with them for later. Although the environment can be a little bit of a culture shock, because of the style of dress and chanting that the “Krishnas” do, everyone is very nice and the food (particularly the salad dressing) is tasty, so go experience Krishna Lunch at least once. Tip: go on a Friday if you are unfamiliar with Indian foods they serve chili.
3.) Explore Local Nature
One of the best things about living in a small, mainly rural, town is the accessibility to nature trails, state parks, etc. Whether you want to drive 10 minutes to Alfred A. Rink Park, or further, to places like Payne’s Prairie, Devil’s Millhopper Park, or even Ginnie Springs, there are countless options to get outside! Going to at least one of these places is a staple Gainesville experience; and, it is a wonderful form of exercise that gets you out of the crowded/bro-infested gym and into the beautiful wilderness.
4.) Go to Gator Stompin
Every year, local restaurants and bars team up to put on a bar crawl downtown in the Bo Diddley Plaza. For a reasonable price, you get: a tee shirt (your pass in to places for no cover charge), tokens (they act like money for alcohol and food), and a concert (last year WakaFlaka Flame came!). It probably is not as fun as it can be if you’re not of legal drinking age, so perhaps save going for when you can actually participate in the crawl. And don’t forget: make sure you get your shirt ASAP so you do not end up in a muumuu or worse.
5.) Wait in Line for a Tee Shirt
If you are a member of the Student Alumni Association (which you might have signed up for at preview), you are entitled to a free “BEAT Whoever” shirt for the five biggest home games. The Association starts giving out their 1,800 shirts at 10 am on a designated day. People will camp out for hours in a line that wraps around for blocks just to get a shirt! Even if you aren’t a member, it is still a fun experience to wait in line and see so much school spirit from your fellow gators.
Sami Dean graduated from University of Florida in 2014 and is now a freelance writer for carious publications.