By KATIE STOCKDALE
Anyone on this campus has suffered through at least one campus tour when they were debating whether or not to become a student here. If you’re like me, you took the tours in the summer, when the heat made them miserable no matter how good the tour guide was. But two years later, I’ve come to realize that there was more missing from my tour than just good breeze.
For curious freshmen, new transfers and jaded upperclassmen, here’s what I wish my tour guide had said:
Buy an ethernet cable
The most important thing is the wi-fi on campus. It is not great. In fact, it is pretty terrible. If you like watching anything on a computer without buffering, get an ethernet cable. Immediately. My freshman year was too full of the tragedy of freezing Merlin, right before Morgan pulled a bitch fit. Along with its slowness, the nice and safe UoT_Secure network will often refuse to appear, refuse to connect, or refuse to move faster than a tortoise in concrete. When this happens, do not panic. The regular UoT network, though it lacks security, generally works better. If you need to use it in a pinch, you will be alright.
Remember your passwords
To avoid a trip to the Jaeb Computer Center, simply remember your UT Network password (and sign up for reset.ut.edu if you think you will forget) and never, ever open anything that could be spam in your school email. Because then, you will be locked out of your account like I was and you will have to prove your identity and beg for your account back. Always go to Jaeb with a plan: know specifically who you need to see before you walk down, and ask for the specific staff member at the desk. This will reduce the stress of your trip and get your problem solved faster.
After technology, the biggest priority of a college student is food. No doubt the tour impressed you with its peek into the cafeteria, its showcase of Einstein’s and Chick-fil-A, and its bragging about Dairy Queen. And for the first semester, this feeling will linger. You will think: Wow the food here is actually pretty good. You will be taken in by the all-you-can-eat caf, with its chocolate milk dispenser that holds the best chocolate milk in the world. You will be dazzled by the Dairy Queen Blizzards, the Pandini’s pasta and pizza. And then you will go home for Thanksgiving for a week. You will return and begin to long for real, homecooked food. You will go on break for a month. You will return fully aware of the truth. No matter how fancy it looks, school food becomes bland, a sort of routine. Even if you leave the caf behind, you will fall into another routine, and soon even pizza and pasta and bagels will no longer help. Your knowledge will be complete and inescapable. It will ruin everything.
All about lines
You’ve heard all about the dining options on campus, but what you haven’t heard is the truth about the lines. Despite being a small campus, the lines at UT manage to be ridiculously long. The caf probably has the worst of it, its lines last over 10 minutes during food rush hours, the worst being around six in the evening or on the weekends. When the caf serves brunch into the afternoon, lines can sometimes reach to the counter at the entrance to the caf, and then wrap around. Outside of the caf, Einstein’s is always busy between 10 a.m. and noon. As far as lines go, they’re a double threat because the line to order is long, but the wait time for food is always even longer. In Morsani, Pandini’s is normally slammed for dinner – the worst of it picking up after 6 p.m. – and is always crowded on Fridays and the weekends, with wait times that can be as long as half an hour. I know, because I’ve timed it. Dairy Queen’s lines get out of control on the weekends too, the worst being on Sundays when students are trying to use up the last of their meal swipes.
Dorms: the part of all college tours given the most attention. While my tours showed my parents the new and fancy dorm rooms, us students were shown the freshmen dorms we were actually going to be living in. This was a good strategy, as there was no let-down when move-in day came. In all honesty, the dorms are not bad. Compared to public schools, they’re pretty nice. The walls are thin, but you get solid furniture and more room than state schools. Of course, the thin walls means you’ll be in touch with your whole floor, so if they come back drunk, you will know. If, for instance, a white board is stolen off of a person’s door and they discover this at three in the morning, you will be woken up by their hysterical drunken screams. In the event that you are brave and go outside to tell them to shut up, you will be told (loudly) that their door was “jacked” and then yelled at because, since it is a weekend, they apparently have the right to scream their head off in the hallway. You’ll get a story out of it.
Roommates – Just be decent
What makes or breaks your dorm experience is the roommates. If you have bad roommates, you’re going to hate your dorm. There’s really no way to ensure you’ll get good roommates, so good luck, try to be decent, and if they suck anyway, make friends that will let you crash in their room. Freshman and sophomore years are not the years to worry about dorms, since younger students get priority. Freshman are restricted to certain dorms, so sophomore year is when you can get into really nice ones like Palm or Straz.
But then you will enter junior and senior year and your options will become vastly limited. You will be delegated to the hotel, or you will have no options at all. And even if at this point you are tired of living on campus and are not that annoyed about having to move off, you will still complain. It’s the principle of the thing.
Forty minutes from the beach
The campus tour might have sold UT as being in the center of a bustling metropolis, but coming from a person who grew up in Tampa, that is not true. Sure, Tampa is a fair-sized city, but it’s not an “activity” city. It’s a port and a business center, and anything there is to do really revolves around expensive restaurants and the mall. They also claimed you are close to the beach, which is only half true. Campus is at least a 40-minute drive from the beach.
A lack of school spirit
That leaves on-campus activities, which because of the apparent lack of school spirit, are not that engaging. If you live in Vaughn, you will hate these events because they will be loud and even more people will be on the bottom floor of your dorm than normal. If you go to them, they will be awkward. If they occur on the weekend, no one will go.
The lack of school spirit also affects sports, since most people who want to go support sports, don’t. Those in charge of sports have tried to combat this by promoting sports. They have players hand out flyers for games, which you will take because you feel bad for them. But as soon as the person leaves, you will throw the flyer away. Also, you will be accosted by athletic marketers in a golf cart who will scream at you through a mega phone about whichever sporting event is happening that week. Twice I have almost been hit by this golf cart as I trekked back to Straz from Plant Hall, and I found myself looking into their faces in an attempt to impart the fact that I knew exactly who they were. They did not seem remotely abashed. An experience like this will not make you want to go to the game at all, and will in fact make you hate all school sports and golf carts.
Katie Stockdale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.