Congratulations to all the new Knights headed to Central Florida. Your journey to Orlando may be a little different than mine- maybe UCF was your dream school, maybe it was a safety school, or maybe (like me) it was your last choice but free school is too good to turn down. Regardless of your path to UCF, you will grow to love the university, Knight puns and all.
I wish I could tell you about all the wonderful and strange events you will get to participate in during your freshman year, but with the current state of affairs, I don't even know what will and won't happen. It's unfortunate you may miss out on participating in one of UCF's best traditions, Spirit Splash; or cheering for the football team during this upcoming season.
Regardless of the current state of affairs, here are a few tips and tricks to make UCF your own during your collegiate years.
1. Be prepared to get lostGiphy
I'm so sorry to be the one to break it to you, but our campus is confusing. Regardless of what your orientation leaders told you and the fact that the campus is a giant circle, it will take some time to acclimate yourself and learn the shortcuts. But don't get discouraged. I do, however, suggest taking a day before classes officially begin to learn where your classes are and the exact room because even if you know the building, the numbers of the rooms aren't always in order, just ask the anthropology department.
2. There are other places to explore besides DisneyGiphy
Yes, we may be in Orlando, but as you will soon find out Disney is far from a quick trip. With Orlando traffic, it can take up to an hour to get there. Take advantage of farmers' markets, cute restaurants in Winter Park, and hiking trails both on and near campus.
3. There will never be enough food choicesGiphy
I never had a meal plan my entire time at UCF, and I can probably count the number of times I ate on-campus food on two hands. With that being said, there are amazing options around UCF and Orlando as a whole. Is standing in line for food at the Student Union a rite of passage, completely. But it isn't something I would voluntarily do. But don't worry, the area around UCF is packed with burger, taco, sushi, pizza, and plenty of other delicious places you will enjoy during your time as a Knight.
4. Eating at Gringos is a rite of passageGiphy
Coined "the late knight spot" on campus since it serves alcohol and stays open until 3:00 AM, Gringos is a place you'll need to hit, whether it is after a bar or some late-night adventures. Does it have the best tacos or quesadillas, no but you go for the experience?
5. The parking garages are your battlegroundGiphy
Since you are a knight, prepare yourself to battle... for parking spots. There has never been enough parking. You will hear horror stories of people literally missing class because they couldn't find a place to park. And if you think taking the shuttles will simplify your life, think again. Now, with UCF moving to mixed-mode this may change, but don't say I didn't warn you.
6. Getting stuck in the rain will happen so be preparedGiphy
In Florida, people say, "if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." In Orlando, that statement is even more accurate. Mornings will start cold, and then as the day progresses, it will be hot and humid and sticky. Also, in those five minutes, you may get stuck in a crazy rainstorm. Don't worry, we have all been stuck in once, but we don't melt and live to tell the story. Let this serve as your warning.
7. You may not love football, but you should at least go to one gameGiphy
No matter what any other college says, UCF is the 2017 NCAA champs. Although I am not a sports fan, I still went to plenty of games and enjoyed every minute, despite feeling the stadium will collapse. Cheering for the Knights is part of your college experience, and you won't lose out by going to one game.
And if you aren't a drinker, don't worry. The tailgates on Memory Mall have great food, games, and music. All things you should experience at least once in your college career.
8. Orlando gets cold... for FloridaGiphy
Maybe not by New York standards, but for born and bred Floridians like me, Orlando can get horribly cold. Be prepared to pack like you are going on a trip around the world. That includes shorts to wear when it is hot and humid and turtlenecks when the weather does hit 30 degrees.
9. Enjoy your college experienceGiphy
Some people say "college is the best years of your life." While I don't know if I necessarily agree with that exact statement, I do think it is important to enjoy and try new things during your collegiate years. When else will you have the opportunity to take random electives like bowling, wine tasting, or yoga (yes those are real electives offered at UCF) When are you going to have the freedom join a sword fighting club or one of the other thousands UCF offers.
College is what you make of it, so remember to make it your own. Even though you are starting college during uncertain times when tailgating and spirit splash and quintessential UCF events may not go on, it will be your own.