Before classes can even begin at UCF’s main campus, the school is already bustling with activity. Students wheel carts brimming with boxes through parking lots. Parents lug mini fridges up flights of stairs. The line in the campus bookstore nearly escapes out the door. But despite the sweaty, frenzied chaos that often comes with move-in day, many first-year students said they felt excited to begin their first semester.
Laura Northington, a freshman double majoring in digital media and studio art, didn’t make it into her new Apollo dorm room until 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. As she sat in the Student Union sipping a smoothie to recharge from her late night, she said she was still getting used to her new home.
“It’s weird knowing that I’m going to live with somebody that I’ve never met before,” Northington said about the prospect of rooming with strangers. “I just don’t want to share my room. I’m dreading that.”
She said the thing she is most looking forward to this coming semester are her classes, a sentiment shared by Sean Simpson, a freshman theatre studies major. Simpson moved in early to audition for Theatre UCF’s new fall show, and although he didn’t get a call back, he said that he was looking forward to the opportunity to get involved with productions in the future.
“There are a lot of shows to audition for here,” he said. “And there are also a lot of theater companies around in the area.”
In fact, it was UCF’s theatre program that brought him to the university, even though he had pursued football in high school.
“I mean, I liked football, but it’s more dangerous,” Simpson said with a laugh. UCF’s variety of extracurricular activities was also a draw to Ashia McMillon, a freshman majoring in anthropology. McMillon said she decided to apply to the school on a last minute whim, but was pleasantly surprised by what the school had to offer after visiting during her orientation.
“I didn’t even realize that it’s, like, a really popular school or even that it’s … the second biggest school in the nation,” she said. “So I’m like, ‘Guess it’s not a bad last minute pick.”
For McMillon, participating in a campus club is a must-do. She said that, hopefully, joining one will help her feel more confident about her choice of major.
“I feel like there’s so much more opportunity at this university … to get involved with stuff you like,” she said. “I didn’t have that back at home.”
Noah Boss, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, said that his choice of major came naturally. His father works as a veterinarian and Boss said he hopes one day to join the family business. Even though he’s been taking classes over summer, Boss said he’s still looking forward for what’s to come in the fall.
“Meeting new people, going to parties,” he said, making a list of his aspirations for the semester. “You know, the usual.”
Despite all the excitement, some new students said that there were aspects of their new college lives they felt anxious about.
“I’m just nervous that I’m going to accidentally not make friends,” McMillon said breaking out into laughter. “My intentions are to go to things and be social, but I feel like I’m just going to slack. I’m just going to get there and decide I don’t feel like talking to anyone. Because, you know, it’s tiring, man.”
For Northington, it isn’t new people she’s apprehensive about: It’s the campus itself.
“Trying to get around campus is really intimidating,” she said. “I’ve already gotten lost four times this morning.”
While new students wrestle with mixed feelings, Brianna Ray, a senior human communications major, said that for seniors like her, the semester is bittersweet. As a resident assistant, Ray spent a nostalgic Saturday morning moving freshmen into the Libra dorm. She moved into the dorm herself three years ago, and now loves being a part of the experience for new students.
“I was a freshman in Libra … so it’s pretty different and bittersweet, I think, to see freshmen moving in for the first time when this is going to be my last time doing any kind of move-in at UCF,” Ray said. “I love being an RA to freshmen … It’s really cool to be able to help them out and get them involved at UCF.”
Surrounded by hot and harried first years, toting shower caddies, bedspreads, and hopes for their college careers into their new homes, she offered a piece of advice.
“Really take it in and get involved and go in with two feet. Do all that you can because college is so amazing and such a great experience,” she said. “Make great friends and do things you necessarily might not have done. Just don’t be afraid to get out there and experience all that UCF has to offer.”