18 tips for Florida's incoming Class of 2018 in Summer B and beyond

Chris Trotman

Thousands of freshmen are starting their careers as Gators this week. We have tips!

Dear University of Florida class of 2018,

Congratulations on your admission to the University of Florida, acceptance of Gator Nation citizenship, and, in the case of those of you who are beginning Summer B classes on this Monday or this week, your arrival in Gainesville. You've probably done great things to get this far in your life, or at least done pretty well on a test and smartly chosen Florida over other schools, and now your life as a Gator can truly begin.

These tips are mostly for you freshmen living on campus, because you're the folks who need these tips the most, whether you know it or not. We will have more and better tips for those of you making your way to Gainesville this fall, promise, but here are 18 tips — 'cause #UF18, obviously — for those of you spending your time in town this summer.

  1. Yes, it is going to be this hot all of the time. Yes, that means that carrying a water bottle is a good idea. Yes, the water fountains in Turlington that have dispensers for filling your water bottle are probably your best bet for filling up a water bottle — or getting cold water.

  2. Turlington is infamous for being a mess. But it really isn't that hard to know where you're going if you take 20 minutes of free time before or after one of your classes to familiarize yourself with it.

  3. Not looking like a freshman is well worth that 20 minutes, trust.

  4. Speaking of not looking like a freshman: Take your keys off your lanyard, and put them in your pocket or purse or backpack. They are the best giveaway.

  5. If you have a meal plan, it will be tempting to eat pizza for every meal. Do not do this: Not only is that going to make your freshman 15 appear with the quickness, but the dining hall pizza will make you hate pizza within a week.

  6. If you have a meal plan, there will be fruits and vegetables available for every meal. Eat them.

  7. If you don't have a meal plan, you probably have a car, and need to learn how to shop (at Publix, because let's be real) for yourself. I Heart Publix is your friend.

  8. If you don't have a meal plan, and don't have a car, make a friend who does as fast as you can. You're gonna need it — well, that friend — to get to Publix.

  9. Friends with refrigerators (or unlimited meal plans, and the ability to palm their Gator 1 back to you, not that I would know about the latter) are good to have.

  10. Friends who will bring you food, or at least a banana or two from Gator D — it's Gator D, not Gator Dining are friends you should keep.

  11. You're probably going to drink, and maybe smoke, and maybe do things that are as or more dumb or illegal with your free time. Try not to do those things to the point that you can't drive home and aren't good to walk home...

  12. ...and try to make friends who will take care of you if you do get to that point. The people who like you enough to actively try to keep you out of bad situations are friends you can count on for less important things, too.

  13. One of the best ways to make friends is to leave your dorm room door open, or at least cracked, so as to hear people from it and welcome them. It's also important to know when to shut your door and focus, whether that involves a tie or sock on the door handle or not ... but, well, the best ways to eventually require throwing a sock on your door begin with keeping your door (and your mind) open.

  14. On a related note: Making the fun you have with the door closed consensual and safe will make it more fun. Condoms are free; consent should be freely given. When in doubt, ask, and when you think the answer is no, it is. Mistakes made in these moments can truly ruin lives, and you owe it to yourself — and whomever you wanna get intimate with — to not ruin your life in them.

  15. On an entirely different note: That relationship with the person you've been dating for two years, the one you love more than any other person on earth? It is going to be changed and challenged by distance and/or classes and/or growth and/or other people, and it is, in all likelihood, going to end. Whether you believe that you have the one special love that can survive four of the most tumultous years of your life or not, prepare for the possibility that you're going to get your heart broken.

  16. The habits you form in your first week or two of living on your own will stick, whether they are drinking on Thursday nights or studying in that one quiet place you found in Smathers or tweeting about the fat person you're next to on the bus. You don't know it now, but the habits that make it easier for you five years from now are probably the right ones to form.

  17. Related: Virtually everything you do, whether in your world or on social media is, in some way, public — and makes a permanent mark. There's an old saying about how you don't get a second chance to make a first impression, and it's true — but you are making many more first impressions, thanks to the explosion of social media and an digital life that runs in parallel to your analog one, on a daily basis than freshmen did just two or three years ago. Be mindful of this.

  18. Finally:

Follow these tips or don't. You're smart kids; you'll figure it out. But we really do think that some of them are actually good tips — we've been where you were, after all, and we learned a few things.

Love,

Alligator Army

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