By Ashley Barron
Although I attended FGCU’s summer B session, it wasn’t until the fall semester that I got a full taste of campus culture. As a freshman new to campus, here are a few things that surprised me. Who knows, they might surprise you as well.
- You meet lots of people. You have various opportunities to talk and meet with people you would not have thought possible. FGCU is very diverse and there is always something going on, whether it is hanging on a hammock or when the clubs are out tabling. I met one of my closest friends out by the lawn just by her tabling, and now we are both in the Relay for Life club trying to raise money to find a cure for cancer.
- The campus preacher is actually a thing. You hear stories about the “campus preacher” and you might be confused. That was until I had an encounter with him and he had a megaphone, a microphone, and he was recording on his phone. The best thing you can do is ignore him.
- Shuttle drivers are as happy to be here as you are. I boarded the shuttle one morning and the driver told us to be happy that we go to FGCU because she was so happy to be there, just like us. She explained how we have wonderful opportunities here and she cannot wait to see us grow.
- The Library Lawn is green with opportunity, not just grass. There is always something going on. Whether a club is tabling or arcades are happening, there’s something to do. It’s a great place to get free swag like bags, cups, shirts, pencils and bracelets. Sometimes there are free water bottles and candy! And while you are collecting great stuff, you might meet a new friend. I have tabled on the lawn before and met many people who were interested in writing, each had their own story that touched my heart and I am so happy to see them be a part of the Odyssey team!
- FGCU residence halls are great. Tired of sharing a bedroom? Want to live on your own but aren’t sure if you’re ready? FGCU understands. With apartment-style living, you get your own room. That way, you get to live on your own with a bit of support. I care about the residence halls because not only are these halls our homes for nine months, our peers are also our neighbors for nine months. The relationship you build with them could help shape your year. For instance, if you need butter but do not have time to go to the store, hit up one of your neighbors, they might have some and would love to help you out!
- WOW events are a great way to get involved. This semester, Weeks Of Welcome hosted brunches, sunset festivals, drip and dip pool parties, casino nights and the famous Eagle Revolution. If you are looking for new friends, you might find them there, whether it is while waiting for food, standing in lines, or taking part in an activity, you are bound to meet someone new. There is nothing better than winning prizes, eating free food and making new friends. I met someone at a WOW event when I was cheering on someone who was attempting to win a prize. It is the little things that can spark friendships.
- FGCU has loads of clubs. Are you into horses? The FGCU Equestrian Club has your back. Are you into video games? FGCU Overwatch and FGCU Pokemon Go is ready to hear from you. Or if swinging in a hammock is your speed but you don’t want to swing alone, check out the Hammock Club. If you can’t find a club to your liking – and that would be hard because there are more than 250 of them – you can start one of your own. I am currently in: Active Minds at FGCU, which brings awareness to mental health; Relay for Life, which wants to cure cancer; CLASP, which promotes awareness and prevention of suicide; The Odyssey, which is online platform where you can write just about anything; and Eagle Media, where we create television shows all about FGCU.
- Have midnight munchies but do not know where to go? Whether you are craving breakfast, lunch or dinner, 41 Diner on Tamiami Trail is open 24/7. I have sat in here for hours on end talking with my friends. We go there so frequently that the servers know our orders. We are not on a first-name basis but maybe one day. I used to be an IHOP regular but things changed when I went to 41 Diner.
- Your professor’s attitude can make or break a class. Biology has never been my thing. I never liked it but my professor changed that for me. Instructor Caroline Rivera engages with her students and her attitude makes me ecstatic to go to class every MWF.
- I did not expect to be so happy. FGCU is a one-of-a-kind school. There are always events going on, always new people to meet, and always an opportunity to engage with your peers. It is an amazing university that wants nothing more than for you to succeed and become the best you possible. Who would not love that?
— Ashley Barron is a freshman from St. Cloud. She is majoring in criminal justice with a minor in journalism.