500 to 55,000: My Transition from High School to College

There’s no question that UCF is huge. With over 55,000 undergraduate students, walking through campus gets a bit crowded, especially during lunchtime. If you’ve ever tried parking on-campus after 9 am, you know it’s hectic, even overwhelming. Coming from a small high school with little over 500 students, these were major things I had to adjust to as a freshman. Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, but like any human being, some days are better than others. Here are some of the things I learned through my experience getting used to college life:

1. Big isn’t always a bad thing

After going to my high school with all the same kids from middle school (and frankly, elementary school), I was nervous but excited to start fresh and meet new people. I have to admit, the first day of college was overwhelming, but as time went on I relaxed and created my own little world. It was so refreshing to know that everyone around me was busy and didn't care what I did after class, who I was friends with, my reputation, etc. All I had to do was get to class, focus on doing well, and continue with the rest of my day. I felt free and secure in such a large group. (When I mentioned I went to a small school, I mean a really small school. It was practically a bubble.)

2. Finding friends isn’t as hard as you’d expect

Everyone at UCF has at least one thing in common: they’re college students. We’re all roughly the same age, and we’re all trying to pass our classes (some more than others). It’s easy to just sit near a group of people and casually start a conversation. Last time I checked, strangers don’t bite! Luckily for me, my major narrows in class size as the program continues from intro-classes to more specialized material. I’ve already met a few girls that I run into every week in my classes.

3. Homesickness is real, and it's okay

Even though it’s important to make new friends, I do still keep in touch with ones that graduated with me and came to UCF or stayed in my hometown. It definitely helps to have people you can confide in that know exactly what you’re going through because they’re dealing with it too.

But some days, I miss more than just my friends and family back home. I feel sad and distant from everybody around me because the environment I was used to is so drastically different. The classes I had during my freshman year at UCF were huge, and most are still around 100-200 people. Transitioning from a 25-cap classroom to crowded lecture halls was hard for me. I didn't know the professor and they didn't know me.

4. You’ll get through it

Being homesick is hard (and having huge classes doesn't make it any easier), but nothing defeats the amount of freedom you have in college. Just remember that getting used to college is hard for everyone, and it just takes time. Being patient with myself was one of the hardest things I had to learn how to do. But I found comfort in little things, like cooking dinner, going to the gym, and visiting Lake Eola’s Farmer’s Market. These things became my way of taking care of myself.

Once the second semester began, I felt so much better. I had a set group of friends, a routine to see my family once a month, and I enjoyed my classes a lot more. I love UCF, not only because of its size but because of the amazing people (and opportunities) it has brought into my life.

So, if you’re like me, and you’re starting to feel the September through November blues, just remember, you’ll get through it too.

Images: 12, 3