Congratulations and welcome to the Swamp! If you haven't heard yet, it is very swampy here, especially in the late summer and early fall months. I thought South Florida was humid, sticky, and rainy; and Gainesville has all of these qualities, but amplified. However, it can also be pretty chilly in the early winter months. Here are a few essentials you will need to avoid looking out of place (like I did) and clueless during your first semester.
1. Rain Jacket
While this may seem obvious, do not forget to bring a rain jacket. What is even more important is that you don't skimp out on a rain coat. While it may seem ridiculous to spend more than $25-$50 on a rain coat, do it. I took the cheap route and ended up having to buy another, more durable, jacket. You also will want one that extends past your torso a bit and has a hood that actually fits your head. You definitely want a hood that stays put when you are running from class to class in the pouring Gainesville summer storms.
2. An Umbrella
Another obvious pick, but bring an umbrella. I thought my rain coat would be enough, but boy I was mistaken. Also, just like the rain coat, make sure your umbrella is big enough to cover both you and your backpack. My umbrella has been one of my biggest saviors when it comes to hustling across campus in the pouring rain.
3. Water Resistant Backpack
While this one may not seem very important, I assure you that your papers and technology will thank you. Because I live off campus, I have to take the bus to and from school. Of course, there are rainy days when you have to walk from your stop to your apartment, dorm, or class. A water-resistant backpack will keep your tech safe from rain. I don't suggest buying a fully waterproof backpack unless you are planning on throwing your backpack in Lake Alice.
4. Good Walking Shoes
I wish I spent more of my freshman year walking in proper sneakers rather than in Birkenstocks and socks. Campus is big, and I mean really big. I would often walk about 5 or 6 miles in my first two semesters on campus when I took traditional on-campus classes. Definitely get a nice pair that you can wear for those long days on campus, your feet will thank you years from now.
5. Rain Boots Or Water Resistant Shoes
I wish I would have brought some rain boots to campus for my summer term at the University of Florida. It rains almost everyday in the summer at least for 20 minutes. I made the mistake of not investing in a pair of rain boots and ended up ruining my pair of running shoes, at least cosmetically. Shoes are hard to wash, so get some rain boots!
6. Reusable Water Bottle
If you haven't gathered this, it is very hot in Gainesville, Florida. I am from South Florida where at least the sea breeze cooled us down a bit. However, Gainesville is landlocked which means the air doesn't move much unless there is a significant breeze in the forecast. The climate is unforgiving for those who aren't properly hydrated. Bring a reusable water bottle to campus because it keeps your water colder and you also have access to refill stations at various locations across campus.
7. Scooter, Bike, Or Skateboard
As mentioned previously, campus is big. You will most definitely want to bring a quicker mode of transportation to campus. My preferred method is biking because scooters, "scoots" as they are more lovingly called, are dangerous; and campus isn't very skateboard-friendly. Sometimes we get caught up in things and only have a few minutes to trek across campus. Bring something that allows you to travel quickly across campus, your attendance grades will thrive.
Disclaimer: I am not endorsing any of the above products.