By Kit Medjesky, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Communication
Each day I greet the students I encounter with a simple question: What did you do for fun since I saw you last? After seven weeks of class, I am convinced no one does anything but stare at the wall. Okay, maybe not the wall, but your phone screen might as well be the wall since no one ever remembers even an interesting TikTok. When I ask what people do for fun, the answer seems to be nothing.
Before you conclude it is simply students not wanting to share their personal lives with their professor, know I do get answers. Students tell me what they did. “I had practice,” they say. “Was practice fun?” I ask. “Practice isn’t supposed to be fun.” “I ate Chipotle,” I will hear. I follow up, “Did you enjoy it?” “It’s just Chipotle. I get the same thing each time.” My students share a lot. But nothing is ever fun.
What happened to fun? College is supposed to be fun. You spend a lot of time and a lot of money on this education, but it is also for the experience. If you are not having fun in your lives, how can you possibly be having fun in class?
And yes, class is supposed to be fun. Remember, all of your professors are people who decided to stay in college forever! So, our jokes might be corny. Laugh! Our science experiments may blow up in our faces. Laugh! Personally, I am sad at the end of every semester because I hide a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Easter egg in every online course I teach and no one has ever even noticed.
But the focus of this article remains on ensuring you are having fun in your personal lives. You have all seen UF’s mission of “meaningful lives, productive careers” many times, and part of a meaningful life is fun. Fun relieves stress. Fun relaxes you. Fun allows you to find connections with people you would never associate with otherwise. Fun builds community. Fun allows you to make new friends. Fun is what transforms UF from your college to your home.
For most of you, UF is your first home away from home. Finding a new home can be scary, and it can be lonely. Let me assure you everyone here at UF knows that, and every member of this community wants to help eliminate those fears and feelings of loneliness. Whether you are a fresher or a senior, it is not too late to really grasp how much UF wants you to be a part of this home. Every faculty member, staff member, administrator, and squirrel are happy you are here. We want you to miss this home as much as your childhood one when you graduate. And we want you to want to come back home to us regularly.
The best way for you to help make that happen: have fun while you are here. Be willing to laugh in class. Join a club. Have a board game night. Try a different rice on your burrito. Go to a campus event like a play or a volleyball game. Play video games with your dorm room open. Reserve a room on campus and watch a movie with friends. Promote your own YouTube channel or TikTok around campus. Let’s all have fun together. It will transform UF from an education into an experience and a university into a home.