Florida Gulf Coast University is home to over 13,000 students, and everyone is always doing something on campus. I'm going into my second year at FGCU, and I've already built such strong friendships with classmates. It's an open and outdoor campus with a large pond right next to it, making it perfect to see wildlife and snap great photos.
1. Seeing the sky change color walking to and from class.
One of the biggest pros of having an outdoor campus is the scenery. I remember getting out of my last class and seeing a sunset every other day. There were a few students going home or back to their dorms, and it was always one of the most tranquil things I've ever seen. This is probably my favorite thing about FGCU.
2. Hanging out in the hammocks.
Florida Gulf Coast University has hammocks lined up behind a group of buildings, and my friend and I would always make time between classes to go and hang out on them or do some studying. I used to go sometimes to just take a break and unwind from a busy day; nothing beats relaxing in a hammock, and with the convenience of them being on campus, they were a perfect study spot.
3. Building new friendships.
We live in interesting times that require us to keep six feet apart but that doesn't mean we can't still be social. Especially when it comes to asking someone if they understood what the homework was or trying to decode the lecture notes. The friendships you make in college will be some of the longest lasting and strongest relationships you'll ever have.
4. Getting involved with school activities.
Whether you're looking forward to being a part of Greek Life or joining a club, FGCU is undoubtedly inclusive towards students. Even as a band member, I see many of them volunteer and help with events at the music building. There is always something to do and so many communities to be a part of.
5. Seeing the wildlife around campus.
With such an open campus, students get the best surprise of seeing wildlife around, such as birds and even turtles. There is an infamous gator who lives in South Village, known as the "Sovi Gator," who is very nice and likes to keep a good distance between himself and the people who stop by and say hello.
6. Showing support at sporting events.
Sports are a big thing at FGCU, especially our basketball games. Students and families show endless support for our volleyball, soccer, golf, tennis, and other sports teams. The basketball games, however, attract a lot of attention with the pep band and students, families, and locals filling the stands in Alico Arena.
7. Interaction and connection with teachers and advisors.
It's important to be able to communicate and connect with your peers, which isn't necessarily a problem with video chat. But it's so different being in a classroom and being on the other side of a screen while being given a lecture or talking with an advisor. Also, being able to build a connection between yourself and your professors allows you to be less nervous when asking for help; some teachers even allow students to conduct research.
8. Getting Starbucks and hanging out or studying.
Yes, we have Starbucks, and I would be lying if I said I didn't go there regularly to get my iced guava white and an everything bagel every other day between classes. But sometimes, having a cup of coffee (or even their desired hot chocolate) and sitting outside can be just as unwinding as sitting in a hammock. The best part is that it's connected to the library which makes it convenient to have something to eat or drink while studying.
9. Taking advantage of the scenery for pictures.
I've seen countless people take pictures on the campus lawn and around the dorms because the campus is one big photo op. With different festivities and activities mainly taking place on campus, as well as the Boardwalk, it's no wonder so many students take the time to snap pictures with friends and family when they come to visit.
10. Finding your own hangout spot.
Everyone has their own hangout or study spot on campus, whether it's on a blanket on the lawn, in a hammock, or at the library. But that doesn't mean those are the only places you can choose from - this campus will become your second home and being able to study or spend time with friends comfortably is one of the most important aspects of FGCU. Exploring the campus and finding your own unique spot is something that can't be done through a computer screen.
11. Having the experience of living with roommates.
Sharing a space with people can be awkward at first, but eventually the ice breaks. FGCU has private room dorms, so you get the experience of living with someone and learning how to communicate with them about what does and doesn't bother you while still being able to get some alone time (Tip: it makes it easier to live with them if you find a way to meet them before school starts).
12. Your professors' stories in class to help connect what you're learning... or just a funny story.
We've all had a teacher who tells their own stories in hopes that it will help connect what's being taught to the students learning it. Or it's a story about something that seems totally random about an encounter at a store with an angry customer... regardless of how far off on a tangent the story goes, they end up being remembered and you get a free laugh for the day. You might even end up remembering what you were being taught.
13. Having your own stories and memories to tell.
Just like professors tell stories that help us remember the material we're learning, you will get to have your own stories that will make you remember what your Freshman year of college was like, just like with your Sophomore year and every year after that. Making these memories are something that can't just happen over a Zoom call, but we can still try to make the best of it.