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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

My future completely changed on Friday, February 25th, at 6:00 p.m. I had been anxiously awaiting this date and time for months. The admissions decision was my foremost concern and all I could think about. From that day forward, life as a Gator has been full of the unexpected, good and bad. Freshman year is weird; this transitional period has so much newness and unfamiliarity. Suddenly, you have to figure out things on your own. Here is my honest review of my freshman year at the University of Florida.

Finding a roommate should be an Olympic sport, especially when relying on Instagram class pages and RoomSync. I had no idea how much work and effort I would put into finding a fun, clean and kind roommate. My first step in this process was reaching out to people who had common interests and looked friendly. I wanted to make friends before setting foot on campus to ease my transition, so I talked to many Gators. Putting myself out there was helpful in learning what I do and do not want in a roommate. In April, I contacted a girl I had matched with on RoomSync who checked all the boxes. I nervously sent her a message on Instagram, hoping she hadn’t already found someone else to be her roommate. We messaged back and forth, talked on the phone and decided to add each other to our housing portals, which was sort of a nightmare to figure out. It was wild to me that I would live with someone from August to early May without ever meeting them and by only communicating over social media. I am so grateful that I reached out to her because it was a perfect match. To those future Gators, reach out to as many people as possible to make sure you’re finding the best person to live with and connect with your peers. You will spend a LOT of time with your roommate, and finding someone with similar values and habits is important. 

Navigating an enormous campus without knowing anybody is frightening. I was really anxious about going somewhere new without any sense of familiarity. Although it gave me a lot of anxiety at the time, I couldn’t be happier that I decided to do that and begin my educational career during Summer B. On Sunday, I moved in and decided to attend the dorm’s game night. That is where I met the girls whom I will be living with next year. You never know who you will meet, and putting yourself out there is so important. Most people feel the same way – unsure, homesick and maybe even lonely – when they go to college. If you take away anything from my freshman year in review, it is to put yourself out there and step outside of your comfort zone. Meeting these people has made UF feel like home.

Experiencing my first official Gator football game as a student was overwhelming in a good way. I did not know what to expect from tailgating and sitting at the game in the heat. Gamedays involve a lot of walking and sweating. It is so important to stay hydrated and wear sunblock because the heat is super intense. Gamedays are the best days of the year because of the spirit, cute outfits and number of friends you are surrounded by at all times. I am counting down the days until football season and may or may not already be planning my outfits.

Also, Homecoming was definitely a highlight of my freshman fall. This is a week full of festivities for Gator students and the entire Gainesville community. Watching the parade on 13th Street full of students and Gainesville locals was so neat. Then, there was Gator Growl, a concert in the O’Connell Center, where Fletcher and Flo Rida performed and famous alumni spoke, such as Danny Wuerffel, an accomplished Gator football player and coach. According to Gator Growl, for 90 years, Gator students have been able to participate in this tradition. I never knew Homecoming existed in college, but I am so glad it does.

Sorority recruitment has been one of the craziest things I have ever gone through. I went through it not once, but twice! Fall rush was incredibly intense, and I wasn’t completely sure if I really wanted to join a sorority. Dropping out of the fall recruitment process was upsetting. I had thought about joining a sorority for so long and didn’t know if I would have another opportunity to join a Greek organization. I knew it wasn’t worth the stress, and I just kept reminding myself that everything happens for a reason. I wanted to make sure that I could handle UF academically and get involved in other organizations I was passionate about before committing to a sorority. I spent my fall semester meeting amazing women in sororities and learned more about them through others. Then, in the spring, I learned about spring recruitment, which is much smaller, more casual and involves only some of the houses. After going to a few different houses and meeting many women, I knew I had found my home in a house I did not even go to in the fall. If I had continued with fall rush, I would have never met all the kind and supportive women who made this spring semester so amazing. Joining a sorority is not for everyone, but if you are interested, I highly recommend trying it out. You will meet many people even if you do not join an organization.

Joining clubs on campus has been another positive experience for me while at the University of Florida. After dropping out of fall sorority recruitment, I applied to write for Her Campus UFL. I was the yearbook editor for two years in high school and have always had a passion for journalism, so when I learned more about Her Campus, I knew that I had to make it my goal to join. Each week, I have absolutely loved having the freedom to write about any topic that interests me and being able to meet other women on campus who love to write. I have also joined Phi Alpha Delta, a pre-law fraternity, which has helped solidify my interest in going to law school after graduation. I have listened to accomplished attorneys connected to the university explain their careers and give advice. Being in a sorority has also helped me make numerous connections on campus. There are so many opportunities to join organizations at the university, and I am so glad that I decided to get involved.

Being a freshman in college takes time and effort. You have to adjust to dorm life, balance a challenging course-load while maintaining a social life, learn how to live independently and much more. Leaving home is hard, and being sad or lonely when away at school is completely normal. It is so important to know that you are not alone, and I can almost guarantee that every college student has missed home at some point. My freshman year at the University of Florida has been full of highs and lows, but I would not trade it for the world. Every slightly unfortunate situation has strengthened me and taught me a valuable lesson. I have met many amazing people, been taught by accomplished professors and have had so many cool opportunities. I cannot wait to see what my second year has in store. 

Hey everyone! I am Neenah Brown, a second-year English major at the University of Florida. I am so excited to be able to pursue my passion for journalism on the Her Campus UFL team! In my free time, I like to work out, play tennis, shop, spend time with friends, go to the beach and eat at Chick-Fil-A. My writing is usually about shopping and clothing trends and college life as a Gator. After graduation, I plan on attending law school.