Football is just one of the many traditions at UF that students can participate in. Most students enter in the “lottery” which means that they get all of the tickets for home games at a discounted price (about $20 a ticket). Even if you decide to not go to a game, you can sell your ticket to other students through Facebook or within your chapter!
I had never been to a Florida football game before my freshman year. "Gameday" has turned into something everyone looks forward to in the fall, and something you schedule your family trip around. Everyone comes together every Saturday, rain or shine, for these games and you get to spend it with some of the greatest people on earth! #CanIGetAGoGata
You only have 4 years of college to go to these games as a student. It’s important to at least go to a couple of them to understand that the university expands far greater than the Gainesville area. When your time ends at UF, you will feel more connected and be able to share those memories of Saturdays in the Swamp.
2. Explore the restaurants downtown.
One of the best things about Gainesville is the variety of food choices you have. The best restaurant I have learned about is Dragonfly. Located in downtown Gainesville, Dragonfly is a modern Japanese pub, according to their website. They have various sushi and sashimi and has a great atmosphere to either take your parents to when they come into town or when you feel like treating yourself with a special meal.
Right across the street from Dragonfly is Hyppo Pops. Originally started in St. Augustine, Fla., Hyppo offers a wide variety of gourmet popsicles ranging from classic strawberry to avocado cream! There is something for everyone and they cost around $3. One of my personal favorite things to do is get my Hyppo Pop dipped in chocolate. Life changing stuff right there. (Tip: if you can't make it downtown, Hyppo popsicles are also available in the Rawlings Pod on campus! Perfect for a studying snack for when you are studying at Marston library.)
Another one of my favorite places downtown is a coffee shop call Maude's. Not only is Maude's a great study spot, but they have an entire bookshelf filled with different board games like Scrabble, Jenga, and Clue. There's also an outside seating area, which is a perfect place to enjoy a nice cappuccino during the colder months.
3. Participate in Dance Marathon.
In Kappa Delta, we have a vast amount of involvement within Dance Marathon (DM for short).
Dance Marathon began at the University of Florida 21 years ago and is an annual 26.2-hour event that benefits UF Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, Fla. More than 800 students stay awake on their feet each year to raise awareness for Children’s Miracle Network. In 2016, DM at UF raised over two million dollars, which goes directly towards the purchase of state-of-the-art medical equipment, funding research grants and education programs, and the purchase of toys and other items to make the children’s stay at the hospital more fun and enjoyable.
There are many ways to get involved within Dance Marathon. You can fundraise to be a dancer for the 26.2 hours, apply to be a Captain or Overall Director, apply for a staffing position or even simply create your own personal fundraising page For The Kids ("FTK").
Fundraising is a year-long effort, but it kicks up in the Fall and continues until the main event, which falls usually sometime in March-April. There are also events leading up to DM that also benefit the Children’s Miracle Network and add to our overall total, which are definitely worth going to!
4. Go watch the bats.
This might sound strange but the bat houses are another tradition here at UF. Located right before the Rec Sports Fields and Lakeside dorms and across from Lake Alice, the bat houses are the habitat for about 300,000 bats. During a 15-20 minute period after sunset the bats will come out of the houses. It’s pretty amazing and an incredible thing to see at least once in your years at UF.
5. Go to Payne’s Prairie.
Payne's Prairie is a Florida State Park and U.S. National Natural Landmark. This area is home to wild horses, cows, alligators and 270 species of birds. It is an amazing place to go watch the sun rise and set. In the cooler months, we like to host bible study out here on one of the walkways in the evening. It’s just close enough to campus to make it a short drive away and just far enough to feel like you escaped to a serene part of Florida.
Who knows, you and your friends may cross paths with some huge alligators, which makes for a great Insta pic!
6. Order Midnight Cookies to your dorm.
You are going to stay awake talking all night with your roommate and decide that you’re starving. However, the only problem is everything is closed nearby and your car is way too far away to drive to Archer Road. What do you do to solve this important problem? Call up Midnight Cookies and get yourself half a dozen and some milk.
This place is located on 34th Street, but they deliver (#blessed). They make gourmet cookies in everyone's favorite flavors such as birthday cake, s'mores and cookies n’ cream. All are baked in the store and they will even deliver you a glass of cold milk (they have chocolate too). Basically this place is the best thing that’s ever happened to college and must be done your freshman year. Not in the mood for cookies? Tropical Smoothie on 34th Street is also open 24 hours.
7. Pull an all-nighter at Library West.
One of the biggest differences about coming to college is your study habits. Long gone are the days where you can cram the hour before your test and pass with flying colors. You are going to have a class where you’ll have to study days in advance for and put all your focus into. There is no better place on campus to get this done than Library West!
It was just made 24 hours again, so now you can camp out in your cubby and study until you can’t stay awake any longer. However, don’t worry about falling asleep in the middle of writing that 20 page paper, because there is a Starbucks located on the first floor, with food options too, to help you refuel. There are also comfy chairs and outlets everywhere so if you need a change of scenery throughout studying, you can easily move around.
This place does get crowded come finals week, however, there is scooter and bike parking right outside which makes it safe to come and go no matter what time of day.
8. Take a fitness class with your best friends.
Southwest Rec and Student Rec both offer free workout classes for students - Take advantage of these! You can log onto the website with your UF ID and register in advance for as many classes as you want. They offer things like spinning, total body and kickboxing. This is a great way to go exercise with your friends and work off some of the cookies you ate the night before. Click here for a schedule of the classes they offer.
9. Go to Gator Growl.
Gator Growl has been a tradition at UF for over 80 years. It is produced by Florida Blue Key and is a student-run pep rally that was founded in 1932. This event is the Friday night before the Homecoming game. It was recently moved to Flavet Field (across from Hume Hall) and features food trucks, a musical performance and comedian. In past years, artists such as Ludacris and Jana Kramer have performed!
10. Run a "frat lap".
This is something you can do either running or walking. (Tip: do not attempt to run in the middle of the day in scorching heat). It’s a great way to exercise and if you go with friends, it’s a great time to catch up and talk about life. The route begins at sorority row and goes up Museum Road. When you reach Fraternity Row, turn by Sigma Phi Epsilon and walk up fraternity row along the sidewalk. You then turn around the corner and walk towards the baseball and football stadiums. This is a great time to take a break chill in the Stadium for a bit and then continue on. You then cut through Turlington and walk by the Broward Hall Chick- Fil- A. You will then walk under 13th Street through the tunnel and towards Norman. This will get you back to sorority row and you have completed a walk around campus!