Moving to a different country may be a mind-boggling and stressful experience, and when incoming international students at UCF are confronted by the sheer size of Orlando, coupled with Florida weather and the lack of public transportation options, they do not fare any better.
Students from around the world are placing their feet on UCF's campus to get the feel for the Orlando area and a true American-college.
“The campus itself appeared to be huge to me and very confusing due to its structure, but the students made up for that," said Felix Meyer-Wyk, an incoming junior political science major from Leuphana University in Germany. "Everybody I’ve met so far was very friendly and didn’t mind showing us the way or helping us out.”
Many international students have cited concerns about getting around without a car, including Katy Bugg, a sophomore public relations major from Bournemouth University in Bournemouth, England.
“A lot of things have confused and shocked me. Some are smaller things, like how there are no kettles anywhere. I’m the most stereotypical Brit, and I need a good cup of tea to start the day right,” Bugg said. “Also, being brought up near London, I’m used to an amazing transportation service, like buses and the tube; but here there is absolutely nothing. I feel like I’m stuck on campus.”
And Bugg is not the only international student this semester to express worry about Orlando’s public transportation system.
Senior Aerospace Engineering major Guillaume Sauter, a French international student from Paul Sabatier University, said he loves Orlando, but has to depend on the kindness of strangers to go anywhere.
“Orlando is a really beautiful place as well, just like UCF. Only one problem is the public transport here; it's nonexistent," he said. "But the students are always here to help you move around Orlando in their cars. I love that helping attitude."
Ying Tang Lau, a senior building services engineering major from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said that constantly asking her friends for a ride somewhere actually makes her feel like she is bothering them, and wishes there were more shuttle buses for exchange students to go to places other than campus.
Aside from lack of public transportation, though, sophomore advertising major Jack Ellingham from Bournemouth University is mostly baffled by the enormity of the UCF campus and the higher drinking age in America compared to the United Kingdom.
“UCF is amazing. It’s huge, which is something that I’m not used to. For example, my campus in the U.K. is about the same size as the Hercules community, and our Student Union is only one floor of a building, rather than a whole building,” Ellingham said.
Most international students said they were previously aware of UCF’s reputation as the second-largest university in America, and actually chose UCF in particular for that reason because they wanted the full American-college experience. However, the size of UCF and Orlando still manages to astonish international newcomers.
“I can’t get over the size of Orlando itself, let alone the size of campus," Bugg said. "On my first day, I thought I could walk to the nearest grocery store, which was the biggest mistake of my life. It took me nearly an hour, and it was horrible in this humidity"
Having to adapt to Orlando while being accustomed to more pedestrian-friendly cities with extensive public transportation systems may serve as a challenge for most, but some international students still hold high hopes and expectations for their semester studying abroad.
“I want to have a great American-college experience and live through all its phases as best as I can in one semester. I feel like UCF is a good place for that,” Meyer-Wyk said.
Gabby Baquero is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.