What I'm Going to Miss About UF

If you asked me 10 years ago if I would’ve ever been a Gator, I straight up would’ve laughed in your face and made a U with my hands, because my entire family consisted of Miami Hurricane fans. My brother went there for undergrad and his MBA. My dad went there for law school. We were Canes fans, and there was no doubt about it.

If being surrounded by orange and green fans wasn’t enough, in the fourth grade I toured the University of Miami’s art museum, and from that day until the day I chose UF, UM was the place I wanted to be.

When I was applying to universities, I applied to UF for the hell of it. It was tied with UM as the best university in Florida at the time, so why not? I had zero intention of actually uprooting and moving to Gainesville.

As acceptances (and denials) started to trickle in, I began attempting to make my own decisions. I wanted to get away from home, as sad as that sounds. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I wanted a break from Miami for at least a few years.

I had gotten into Pepperdine University in Malibu, but that was too far. It came down to either staying in Miami, going to UM and living in dorms, or going to UF. I didn’t want to choose UF without even touring it – I had never been here. I had no idea what Gainesville even was.

My parents and I came up for a tour, and after our first day in Gainesville, I knew UF was where I wanted to go. (I dealt with a mild identity crisis because I had never known anything but the Canes, but I’m fine now.)

From that day on, I never even thought, let alone spoke the words, “Go Canes” (unless they were playing against Florida State, obviously). It’s amazing how quickly I fell in love with UF, though that love grew as the years went by.

I fell in love with the diehard Gator fans. I fell in love with the brick buildings lined up with the clear, blue skies (when Rainesville doesn’t take over). I fell in love with the small town-all-in-this-together vibe.

Come May 6, these things will no longer be mine to love. It’ll be up to the Gators who come after me to love them and cherish them as I have these last four years.

As my last couple months of college have been coming to a close, little bits of sadness and nostalgia for things I haven’t even left behind yet, overcome me at times. Here are just a few things I’m going to miss when I leave UF.

• Tailgate season

On the surface, the thing I’m going to miss the most from my time at UF is tailgate season. It’s more than just getting drunk while hopping from frat to frat. It’s togetherness. It’s unity, and it’s amazing.

Tailgate season brings together Gator fans from across the country, and if you were to say there are any fans more loyal than Gator football fans, you’d be lying or mistaken.

Our football team hasn’t been the best in a long time, but our fans filled the 90,000-person stadium every Saturday. Even during the Orange & Blue game this semester, fans came from everywhere.

That sense of unity (as well as all the parties, of course) is going to be the one thing I miss the most.

• Calling it a night at 2 a.m.

I’ve gotten to this point in my college career, and in life, I suppose, where I get tired super early. I’ve barely gone out this semester because I’ve been swamped. However, the few times I have gone out, I find myself wanting to leave even before close (which, btw, is so much earlier in Gainesville than in the real world).

I’m going to miss having last call at 1:35 a.m., and then going home and being able to knock out before 3 a.m.  

• Not having to be an adult

Everyone knows that once you finish school, it’s time for adulting. It’s time to begin embracing the 9-5 workdays and two week vacations once a year. 

College is the last time you get summers off. The last time you can pick your schedule, for the most part. The last time you get to live without a worry in the world except passing all your finals. I’m going to miss embracing my free-spirited years and not having the responsibilities adults have.

If you would’ve asked me at 10 years old what I wanted to be, I would’ve told you I wanted to be a Cane (and probably a veterinarian, also).

Twelve years later, here I am, getting ready to walk across the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, alongside my fellow J-School Gators, and I’ve never been prouder.

Honestly, I’m going to miss UF forever. There’s no use even trying to deny that. This university will have a piece of my heart for as long as we both shall live.