After just completing my very first semester of college, I am forced to reflect on these past four months that I just absolutely tumbled through, beginning orientation day and ending present-day, 16 credits later. As any new college student can attest to, hundreds of academic and lifestyle adjustments had to be made in order to come out of the semester alive. That is the bare minimum. However, after successfully skimming the threshold of that achievement prevails the time and opportunity to explore the new environment that is the university itself. Many of the things I ended up learning were completely through unintentional experience or were fueled by curiosity - just how it ought to be. I hope any other fellow Bulls can learn at least one (1) thing about the university in which they attend or have attended.
The old Marshall Student Center was...old.
Although USF is a relatively new university (founded in 1956) compared to the other universities under the Florida System, this photograph of the MSC - then University Center - makes it seem monumentally ancient. I didn't even know pictures of USF's campus existed in black-and-white (sorry moms and dads who were around in the year 1960 when this was built; you guys aren't a day over 30!). At the University Center's debut, only four other buildings existed in the entire campus. The center included an all-female residence hall, and get this... a television room! Imagine a time when a room needed to be dedicated to TV's. You can't. Furthermore, classes were temporarily held in the basement until more buildings were constructed around campus.
Both of my parents attended USF in the early 90's, and they can affirm that the basement of this University Center building actually turned out to be pretty cool. No longer a space for classes, it was transformed into a game/social room. Per my dad's experience:
The basement was a happy place. On the left side were huge, comfy sofas; this is where I would hang out with my friends. In the middle were several pool tables, and lastly on the right side, a diner. It served the students of the 90's right but I'm not sure if the same effect would have transferred over to today's social atmosphere.
He does have a point. Although it seems like a cool concept now, considering the retro movement of today, the students of the early 2000's sought a revision of the student center in order to better serve the growing population of the school. In 2003, active planning for a new student union began. Leading up to 2008, the entire building was demolished and up rose the 230,000 square foot Marshall Student Center that we all know and love today. Although it doesn't have a basement, it has amenities that the old student union could have never dreamed of, including... a computer lab!
The mascot went through an identity crisis.
USF at its origin was not Bull Nation, but was... Golden Brahman Nation? Chosen in 1962, the Golden Brahman was meant to represent Florida as a cattle-raising state. Also on the ballot for USF's mascot were the "Florida Chickens," the "Desert Rats," and even the "Buccaneers;" how original. All in all, the Golden Brahman proved victorious, at least until the 80's when the Brahmans eventually evolved into just the "Bulls." However, the term Golden Brahman remains a part of the university to this day, as it is a part of the formal name for the USF fight song (fun fact). I do think "the Brahmans" has a cool vibe to it and reminds me of a mascot name that a more "traditional" university would possess, but I wouldn't trade screaming "GO BULLS" at football games for anything else.
The mascot costume got a much-needed makeover.
Old Rocky got nothin' on new Rocky
I actually laughed out loud when I first saw this middle image of our beloved Rocky the Bull. They did him so dirty. Guys and gals, that is what the real-life Rocky looked like prior to 2003. That... creature once walked around sporting events and other campus/community events to promote school spirit. What a sight. When comparing the old and new Rocky side by side, the old lacks the fervor and tenacity that the new one has, almost to a comedic point. Let's all bow our heads and give thanks to the current designers of Rocky that created the right-side Rocky.
P.S. if anyone was curious: the Rocky on the left was drawn as a cartoon rendition for the Athletic department to use in their newsletters. How neat!
The origin of the USF hand symbol has nothing to do with rock n' roll.
I always thought that the "Go Bulls" hand sign had something to do with the genre of rock because of how it represented ROCKy the Bull. I think it's still a valid idea. However, the famous hand sign actually premiered as a "good luck" gesture for free-throw shots at the basketball games back in the day. Although I have yet to attend a basketball game during my time here at USF, I hope this tradition is still carried out.
Side note: Apple Inc. names the 🤘emoji as the "sign of the horns" so I guess it does double as a tribute to our bull mascot!
You are in control of the music in the dining halls.
Okay, that was enough of a history lesson. Now for the current stuff. The good stuff.
After the first month of eating at the dining halls on campus, I noticed that the music being playing wasn't exactly conventional of the typical standards of any eatery place. The queue would start with dubstep and proceed to Justin Bieber's "Baby," to Nirvana, then finally to some obscure indie song. At night, almost on cue, I would hear the songs "Ocean Man" and "All-Star" at least once each. At first I thought the outwardly-reserved dining hall servers found their outlet of fun on the job through song choices. Then I discovered the app RockBot.
RockBot knows what dining hall you're at on campus and allows anyone to literally search up any song within their database and add it to the queue. Then, others who are also on the app (usually a sparse number, anyways) can upvote or downvote the selection, to bring it higher or lower in the queue. Due to this sparse number, the song basically has an 100% chance of getting played for everyone to hear (that is, if you upvote your own selection), so choose wisely.
Being my own DJ has become the norm for me when enjoying a meal at school. The day I heard someone humming along to my song selection was the day I felt a little bit more at home at this school.
As a side note, you also have the power to change the TV station in the dining hall! All you have to do is go up to the front desk where they swipe you in and ask for the remote, and boom! You can watch "Spongebob" while eating some chicken and rice.
You can rent a textbook for free.
(clearly not USF's library)
You heard that right...kind of. I use the term "rent" pretty loosely here. A USF student can "use" a physical textbook of their choice for up to four hours by checking one out at the library, at no charge. This is handy when wanting to read a chapter or two for content comprehension, without having to stare at pixels on a computer screen.
You can kayak for the price of a latte.
USF's outdoor recreation department has a partnership with the nearby Riverfront Park, located less than 1.5 miles from campus on the north side. With a USF ID, you have access to a one-person kayak or a stand up paddle board for the small price of five dollars! Why feed into your caffeine addiction when you can get a breath of the fresh outdoors while participating in a low-to-moderate exercise?! No shade here.
If you have friends, hopefully, you can also rent a canoe or a two-person kayak for 10 dollars.
The park also has other cool activities for USF students to enjoy, such as an obstacle course, moonlight canoeing, a disc golf course, pavilion rentals, bonfires... the list goes on! If you have a bit of time to relax amidst the busy schedule of a college student, I highly suggest stopping by at the Riverfront Park to enjoy the great outdoors.
This list is not exhaustive of the cool little perks I have learned along the way during my first semester of college, or else this article would be exorbitantly long. These are just some of things I thought to be particularly interesting and/or useful.
GO BULLS BABY🤘