After four years of skim reading textbooks, some bull crapped discussion posts, a bit of procrastination, a few tears, but mostly hard work and dedication, my time at the University of Central Florida draws to a close. I changed my major once, moved twice, gained friends, lost friends and drank lots of coffee. Some of my time was fun and some was definitely not. Now I can look back at the best and worst experiences at UCF.
Let's start with something positive.
1. Nice Umbrella Guy.
It was my freshman year, I had a big time gap in between my classes and that particular day, I decided to spend it in the Student Union. My last class of the day was in the Business Administration building. Considering the expansiveness of the campus, the SU and BA are not actually that far from each other. However, there is a street you have to cross with no covering, which can be a nightmare in a classic Florida downpour.
Yes, it started to rain. Hard. And I had a small backpack that was definitely not waterproof, my laptop in a case that was also definitely not waterproof and no umbrella. But I had to get to class. This was before I could just call up my crazy friend Mitchell to come save me.* I waited as long as possible, hugged my laptop as close to me as I could, and stepped out into the rain. I got a few feet from the door when suddenly there was an umbrella over me.
“Hey!” some guy yelled over the deafening rain. “Where are you going? Maybe we can share my umbrella.”
“Business building!” I yelled back. He said something about going in that direction, I didn’t really hear him, but I said, “Thank you!” and we continued on. My laptop was saved!
Nice Umbrella Guy dropped me off near BA and I gave a wave of gratitude as I ran inside. He didn’t have to help me out. There were plenty of other Umbrella People who ignored me, but he chose to be kind, and it was awesome.
*When Mitchell finally started going to UCF, one day he proceeded to tell me that some random guy came up to him and offered his leftover breadsticks, which Mitchell took and ate, casually.
2. The Lauren Tour.
My Aunt Joy has never been to college. One time she was in town, I was able to give her the unofficial tour of campus, The Lauren Tour. I took her to the buildings where most of my classes were held (shout out to VAB), through the Student Union and the boardwalk area and down the Breezeway. We circled the Reflection Pond and she took lots of pictures.
We passed the library and I told her how it gets quieter the higher you go and how I usually studied on the third floor. I took her through the shortcut between the Breezeway and library to Tech Commons. We climbed the stairs in the Student Union and looked down on the ant-sized people below. I loved showing her a bit of my world.
3. Discovery of the Best Coffee Shop.
Junior year, the best coffee shop on campus opened—The Pop Parlour. Before then, I had to get my coffee fix from either Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Joffrey’s (throwback), Café Bustelo, the bookstore cafés or that one in the library. Now these weren’t bad, honestly, but I would much prefer to drive to a cute off campus shop like Vespr, Kaioen (also a throwback) or Duo58 to study in their aesthetic space and not fight 60,000 other students for a seat on campus.
I walked into The Pop Parlour expecting just popsicles. However, I was surprised to find a full espresso menu and that they brew Credo coffee. Heck yeah. I ordered my usual hazelnut latte and was brought a beautiful work of art in a cute mug to my seat on a comfy couch next to a power outlet for my laptop. I wrote most of my project for Scripts Workshop in this space. The atmosphere is calm and light and its location near the CFE Arena is just detached enough from the busy campus life to provide a much needed escape. They also bottle their cold brew and, of course, their popsicles are pretty spectacular. This quickly became my go-spot for meeting friends. (Hey, Annalyse and Courtney!)
And now, the other side of UCF.
I could honestly devote an entire article to the parking at UCF, so I’ll try to keep this brief.
One fine Thursday morning, I left my apartment at the time I had for the past odd six or seven Thursdays to make it to my stats lab. I turned into campus on Gemini and headed for Garage H, like I always did. I waited in the line of cars, got up to the third floor, and started circling the floor for an open spot. Usually, I was able find an empty one fairly quickly on the third floor and if not, find one on the top floor. But today was different. It seemed like every other driver was in a bad mood. People were rushing around corners, honking and cutting each other off. I made my way to the top floor to find nothing open. I circled the other floors. Still nothing. I decided to try Garage D. It was closer to my lab anyways, just farther from my last class of the day. I circled around the different floors again.
Once, I thought I had a spot, only for it to be taken by a car on the other side of the lane. I rolled my eyes and drove past. It was time to get aggressive. My friend had told me that Garage I usually had spots. I drove to the opposite side of campus to look. I was running out of time. Garage I was farther from everywhere I needed to go, but it had to work. However, it was just more of the same circling, honking, frustrated students trying to park in the morning. I had about three minutes before my lab started. I finally found a spot on the roof of I. Lab just started. I ran. It was embarrassing. I made it to Tech Commons. The two TAs looked a little miffed. One of them had to sit with me the whole time and catch me up. That was also embarrassing.
2. Testing Center (K)Nightmare.
Macroeconomics. The one with like 1,000 people enrolled so they post the lectures on Canvas for the kids who can’t find a seat (or just don’t want to go to class at 7:00 AM like me). We had to take our exams in the Testing Center, where they are a little psycho about monitoring you and kick you out if your phone even rings. The day of my second econ exam, I was not feeling too great. I had a bit of a sore throat and the sniffles, but it was probably just a cold. I went into the test. It was taking forever, I could barely think straight and had a hard time remembering everything I had just studied. It was also freezing cold. Colder than I remember from the first exam.
I glanced around at the student monitors walking around because if I looked at another test-taker, I would get eyeballed by a monitor. None of them were shivering like I was. I rested my head on my hand as I read the next question. My face was burning up. Maybe I had a fever. I left the test and meandered to the health center to buy a thermometer. When I got home, I discovered my hunch had been right. Not only was I sick for the next week, but I that exam ended up being the lowest grade that was dropped at the end of the class.
3. The Case of the Missing Textbooks.
This was a great start to my last semester here. Every time I use the campus bookstore, I have some kind of issue, so I don’t rent from here unless it is the absolute cheapest option. I went to pick up my rental textbooks and the bookstore employee told me, “Uhh, so we lost your books,” just like that. And so I asked, “Well, what can I do? I need my books. Can you find them?”
“Wait here I guess.” He walked away. I stood there awkwardly and Tweeted about how annoyed I was. Thirty minutes later, right as I was about to leave and go complain to someone else, he came back with two books. The two that I didn’t need right away, of course. I asked if the last one would be available at all and he said that I would get a phone call when it came in. I looked in the other section of the bookstore and it was not there, so at this point, I just asked for a refund of that book because I ended up ordering it from Amazon. This bookstore employee told me it was not possible to issue a refund for just one book in the order, and I said that doesn’t make sense because they did not even have my book. They said if I brought back the book once it came in, they could give me a refund. So I left. And then later that day, I got an email confirming a refund for—guess what—just that book. The entire experience was inconvenient and unprofessional.
Although I’ve had my fair share of other best and worst times at UCF, these six are the most random or memorable. I was in the right, or wrong, place at the opportune time. UCF is such a big school that a lot of their classes are offered online, and I always liked this mode better. It was bittersweet to spend my senior year with only one class on main campus, but I’ll never forget the three other years when I had to spend too much time on this weird campus.