Homecoming Week from a Freshman’s Perspective

When I was beginning my first year at the University of Florida, I heard about the surreal experience of homecoming week. As a member of a sorority, I was presented with opportunities every night of the week to get involved in the school spirit and prep for the big game against Auburn on Saturday.

Starting strong on a Sunday

Throughout the entire week, each Panhellenic sorority pairs with an Interfraternity Council Fraternity. As a new member of Phi Mu, I got to experience this firsthand. My chapter paired up with Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) and we traveled to our various events each night. Sunday evening, we dressed down in pajamas and met at the Phi Mu house located on East Panhellenic Drive. Over the course of an hour, members of each chapter worked together in hopes of winning at the Trivia Night. Although this was not the typical upbeat atmosphere of homecoming week, it eased us into the full schedule of events and prepared us for late nights bonding with each other. Despite the craziness and sleepless nights as the week continued, this relaxed event sticks out to me because it was yet another reminder that I genuinely enjoy being a member of Phi Mu.

Mondays are for “my tie”

When I walked in the doors of The Range in Downtown Gainesville, I found my sisters and the ZBT brothers jamming out to “Party in the USA,” which set the mood for a lively and enjoyable night. The streets filled with laughter as my fellow students and friends got the nerve to let loose and have fun on stage. Earlier in the day, ZBT dropped off neck ties in the Phi Mu house for sisters to wear to the event. As the night went on, they were on the pursuit to find the guy with the matching tie. This led to creating a social atmosphere that allowed us all to look forward to the following days.

Tuesday, we stepped back in time

Tuesday allowed us to get creative because the day’s theme revolved around rock ’n’ roll music. We hopped on busses to the Gold Room in Downtown Gainesville adorned in our fishnet tights and metal accessories. Personally, I opted for a ‘50s vibe and wore a checkered skirt with a crop top and red heart-shaped glasses. I started to feel like I was experiencing a high school homecoming week because all of us truly tried to fit the theme and dress up. This element of homecoming week in high school was always my favorite because the themed days really allowed others to show off their personal interests and school spirit. By this point in the week, I knew what people meant when they said homecoming week was memorable. It was only Tuesday night, but I could have been content with only attending those three events.

And on Wednesdays, we rest

Plain and simply put, I was really feeling the late nights. Going into the week I was determined to make it to all of the events because it’s a great way to grow as a sisterhood and get to know people you don’t always see around the house. I had signed up for the bus to the Jocial (jeans or jersey social) that left around 8 p.m., but by 5 p.m. I knew there was no way I was making it to the activity that night. Normally I try to fall asleep before midnight if possible, but every night I had been going to bed at 2 a.m. at the earliest and waking up at 9 a.m. that same morning. I knew I needed to rest for a night if I intended on being ready for the rest of the week, but like any other normal person I suffer from FOMO. Although I wanted to attend every night of homecoming week, I was aware that it’s as important to take care of myself as it is to have fun.

Thursdays call for Woodsers

As sisters and brothers prepared to ride 45 minutes to Trenton, Florida, we dressed up in space cowboy or country attire to celebrate the “Duck Calls and Overalls” theme. The event of the day was a Woodser, a party in the woods with a DJ/band, and food trucks for the convenience of attendees. This night earns the title of the best event for some because of the entertainment and location of the event. It amazed me how the coordinators of the event managed to set up a smaller scale concert in a field that appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. Although we didn’t arrive back at UF until 2 a.m., it was a great experience that allowed me to immerse myself in the fun aspects of Greek life.

Gator Growl Friday

Every year, UF’s Florida Blue Key hosts a concert with live performances from famous artists and appearances from public figures around campus. This year’s main act was country singer Chase Rice and the event began at 6 p.m.. Before the event, ZBT hosted a backyard barbecue at their off-campus house where we had dinner and socialized before the night ahead. Gator Growl staff and the acts did a great job of bringing the student body together and boosting the school spirit before the football game the following day.

Swamp Saturday

As UF student arrived through the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium gates, tension rose into the air. The Gator Football Team, who ranked 10th in the nation at the time, was tasked with playing against the Auburn Tigers who held a 7th place ranking. Despite bets that the Gators would lose, the team pulled through with a 24–13 win. This win, along with the hopes of moving up the college football rankings, allowed the week to finish strong for UF students.

Although I came into homecoming week with no knowledge of what was to come, I ended the week pleased at the school spirit and camaraderie among the Gator Nation. I am looking forward to spending next year with my sisters in Phi Mu and taking advantage of the crazy, thrilling homecoming week in Gainesville.