Laura - University of Florida

Bachelor of Science
Semester 1, 2018
I can definitely say UF gave me the ultimate college experience.

Academic experience

I studied two mathematics courses and two electives. Overall I found the study load to be much easier than UQ. I think this was because the assessment is much more spaced out over the semester and due to the fact that I wasn't working so I had more free time to study. My electives were Life in the Universe and Climate Change Solutions which I found really interesting and unlike anything I've ever done at UQ. If you have electives, I would definitely recommend trying something different like I did.

Personal experience

I can definitely say UF gave me the ultimate college experience. I made amazing friends, went to college sporting games and frat parties and learnt so many new things. The students at UF are incredibly passionate about their University and it makes you want to get involved in all things Gators. Although Gainesville itself is a pretty small town, it is so close to Orlando which has Disney World and Universal. UF has a program called Navigators which is made up of American students and international students. Throughout the semester they organised events and trips which was a really great way to make friends. There is also a program UF has called TRIP where they run outdoor trips to places in and outside Florida. I did an overnight hiking trip to Providence Canyon in Georgia and it was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

Accommodation

I lived at Weaver Hall for the semester. This was a really great home as it is an international dorm so you get to meet exchange students from all over the world who are in the exact same boat as you. I was lucky enough to have a single room, however if you receive a roommate they will most likely pair you with an American student. Some of my friends had American roommates and they were really great at offering advice about UF. One of the best things about Weaver is the basement which is full of items that past exchange students have left behind. If you're after things like a fridge, cooking supplies or bedding then definitely check out the basement before you go and buy them yourself.

Costs

I definitely underestimated how much money I would need for this trip. I would probably budget around $15,000 for your accommodation, food and travel during and after the semester.

Professional Development

This trip definitely gave me a sense independence and a real insight into cultural differences. I also believe it gave me skills in adapting to new environments with ease. Travelling in a different country by yourself can certainly be scary and there were definitely a lot of things that went wrong however I was able to overcome them and be successful.

Highlight

It sounds so cliche but honestly the highlight of this trip was just the friends I made. Other things that I loved was going to Mexico for Spring Break and attending the sporting games because of the amazing college spirit.

Top tips

  • Take advantage of all the free things on campus. Some of my favourites were the sporting games like football and basketball, Friday Gator nights and catching the bus to Lake Warburg where they have things like kayaking and rock climbing. Public Transport and the Gym are also free for students so definitely use those. 
  • Wait before you buy a meal plan. I bought a meal plan because I thought it was a good idea and whilst it was super convenient, a lot of my friends didn't have the meal plan. I found cooking in the kitchen to be a really fun social gathering so I would definitely wait a couple of days in the semester to find out who has a meal plan before you buy one. 
  • Try to make friends with someone who has a car. My friends and I had a lot of trouble getting to places like Orlando (which is a two hour drive) without a car. We used Greyhound a lot however if you can I would try to avoid them as half the time they overbooked our bus and we had to pay for a $300 Uber to Orlando. Towards the end of the semester we also hired a car from ZipCar which was really useful if you are comfortable with driving on the other side of the road.
  • There's a second hand shop called Plato's Closet which has really good stuff for super cheap. Especially if you're after some Gator merch and don't want to pay for the stuff at the book store, then definitely check out Plato's