Anyone who knows me would say that I am quite nonchalant and easy going. However, the process of choosing a university for my exchange brought out an inner Energizer Bunny inside of me and completely changed my entire disposition. I’m not going to lie, I researched and researched and obsessed over the universities offered to me. I even made a word document for each university once I finally managed to narrow my choices down, complete with headings for cost of living, transportation, accommodation costs, and the potential units I wanted to take (yep I went through the course catalogues of 5 different unis) . I ended up selecting the University of Central Florida, Orlando as my top choice and thankfully got in (WOOHOO!). For that, I am eternally grateful. So much so that I have made a list of reasons why I think UCF is a great choice for your exchange! Okay, I may be a liiiitle biased, but really UCF is amazing.
The campus is real pretty
It is true. Almost every morning, I see gardeners and maintenance staff working on some part of the campus. We have a really beautiful reflection pond at the center of the campus where many students study and ~reflect~ on life and what not. Also, the campus is kept extremely clean. It never fails to amaze me how after a super crazy and messy day of tailgating, memory mall looks pristine the next day.
Students have amazing facilities
UCF students are super spoiled with great facilities. There’s a killer gym (it has a freaking rock climbing wall, I mean c’mon), a leisure pool, a lake where you can kayak and paddle board, an 4 story library, and a great selection of food options (they have a Starbucks omgggg) just to name a few great facilities on campus.
ALSO, something that I think is very important and helpful for exchange students is ZIPCAR, a super easy, car rental service for students 18 years and up. All you need to do is send Zipcar a copy of your passport and current license, wait for approval and get your Zipcar card in the mail (This works as the key to a Zipcar). The membership is free for UCF students, the cheapest hourly rate is $6.50, you can easily rent a car through their phone app, petrol and insurance costs are covered, cars are all automatic (thank god) and best of all, the closest Zipcar is literally outside of the Hercules Building 113, where all the exchange students live! Its quite handy if you want to go on a day trip to the beach or a theme park, or even for a couple of hours if you wanted to go get some groceries.
The faculty are very friendly.
The academic culture is different in America and their standard may be something that you aren’t used to. Because you are representing your university back home, it is important to do your best in your classes. And just because your on exchange doesn’t mean you can slack off when it comes to school work. All my professors were approachable and really keen to help with any questions, so always make sure to double check with them if you don’t understand an assignment! On a side note, professors in America liked being called by their professional title and not by their first name. Make sure you show respect to your teachers by addressing them correctly 🙂 The RAs are also very friendly so make sure to talk to introduce yourself once you get to campus!
Their inbound exchange program is incredible
UCF’s student ambassadors are super friendly, helpful, and fun! In four months, the student ambassadors organised trips to the gun range, theme parks, beaches, camping trips, and even a cruise to the BAHAMAS (yes it was incredible)! Having those guys around really made the transition from Australia to America a breeze. Rest assured you will be taken care of at UCF 🙂
American food yo
It is true what they say about American food. A small is like an Australian large, no joke. It can be greasy, salty, cheap, and down right delicious. Even though you try to watch what you eat, American food is just so unhealthily good and addictive that one cannot avoid gaining a few. Freshmen even call it the “Freshman 15” – this is where freshmen gain 15 pounds during their first year of college haha. One of our favourite places to go after nights out were IHOP and Steak and Shake. Absolute heaven. If you are keen to try different foods, definitely go to Lone Cabbage, a bar by the river where they serve catfish, frog legs, and gator. I tried it all, and I must say, alligator is delicious. I passed on the frog legs though.
American outlet malls yo
I didn’t know this when I first came to UCF but Orlando actually has some of the best outlet malls in America. Now this is not your typical DFO. Outlet malls in Florida are full of designer brands such as Michael Kors, Lacoste, Coach, Kate Spade, and Banana Republic. Other massive outlet stores include Adidas, Victoria’s Secret, Nike, and Forever 21. The Premium Outlet Mall is definitely the place to go to shop til ya drop.
If you want a real American college experience, UCF is the place to go.
From football games and basketball games, school chants and cheerleaders, to sororities and fraternities, UCF really gave me the full American college experience. Its the second largest university in the country, with over 60,000 students. So many amazing things happen on campus. We’ve had Big Sean and T-Pain come to perform for us, we’ve had comedy nights where famous comedians such as Damon Wayans Jr. did standup, and we have some crazy crazy crazy school events such as the Spirit Splash. I was so lucky to have come to UCF and met some amazing people. I enjoyed my time there so much and I wouldn’t change it for the world.Of course each university has its own ups and downs, and if you make the most of wherever you are placed, you will have an amazing time for sure. I know I did.
If you have any questions about UCF or exchange in general please let me know!
Adios for now ! x