My decision to attend the University of North Florida was simple. I wanted to find a school where I could get involved right way. After visiting UNF’s campus, I saw that any student who had drive and wanted to be involved, could be a leader in the school’s community.
At first, I was going to commute from my home in Fleming Island. But Swoopapalooza, the new student orientation, changed all that. I decided living on campus was too good an experience to pass up.
And it was one of the best decisions I made, besides deciding to attend UNF in the first place. Living in the residence halls gave me the full college experience I was looking for. I felt like I had my own UNF community with free movies, concerts and events going on every night. Moving away from my parents’ home really helped me to grow up and branch out from my hometown. Because I didn’t know too many people going to UNF — there were three from my high school — living on campus helped give me a fresh start.
When I moved into the residence hall in August, I had a lot of people to meet. It was so cool to sit next to a random stranger in class and find out he lived in the same residence halls as I did. In one semester, it was possible to make hundreds of new friends – and the best part was that they all lived next door.
When I lived on campus, I attended as many events as possible. The residence halls are awesome at putting on events you really want to take part in. As a freshman, I got to vote at floor meetings on what types of events took place in our building and throughout campus in the residence halls. I really enjoyed Casino Night, Mudfest and the free movies on the inflatable projector. Living right in the middle of everything also made it easy for me to get involved on campus in Greek Life and work as a student tour guide. And while all the organized activities were fun and built a sense of community, some of my favorite memories are when people just came into my room to hang out. Because all my friends lived on campus, we were constantly in and out of each other’s room for potlucks, movie nights or just hanging out.
Living on campus was not just beneficial to my social life, either. It really helped me out with my academics. It certainly made just getting to class a lot easier. Even when I had early classes, it was easy to just walk across campus as opposed to find a parking spot. And my hall, like many on campus, had a study room so there was always a quiet place for me to hit the books. I have a demanding major — Athletic Training — and I need to put in some serious study time. I was able to do that easily in the halls. Or the library was just a short walk away.
I chose to live on campus for a second year because of how well the halls helped me adjust to college my first year. Living on campus helped me so much with classes and making friends that after a summer of being away, I could not wait to get back to campus. And now that I have moved off campus, I really can see just how much living in the residence halls benefitted me. My experiences were better than I ever thought possible and took me places I never thought I would go.
My whole career at UNF has been just like that — I can’t wait for the next experience or adventure. UNF is a unique school. Everyone from the president to the faculty to the staff and to the students has a common goal of education. And my education at UNF has been personal. My professors have been genuinely concerned about my success. The friendships I have made will last a lifetime. I meet new friends each year at UNF, but I know so many people know that it feels like home.