Students return supplied, rested

Rachel McNally, a University of Florida freshman from Plantation, collapses on her bed after lugging a huge bag of clothes up three flights of stairs and into her Jennings Hall dorm room on Sunday. "I haven't eaten anything all day," explained McNally.

Photos by BRIANA BROUGH/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
They came by the thousands lugging overstuffed sacks and suitcases of clean jeans and winter wear, ready for cooler temperatures and a new semester.
Some dragged suitcases up flights of stairs, stopping briefly to hug friends; others carried armloads of clothes still on the hangers and stuffed them into cramped dorm room closets. In between the hauls of clothes came cases of sodas and snack foods to fill refrigerators and milk crate storage containers.
The goal was the same: get moved in before the start of classes today, when both the University of Florida and Santa Fe Community College begin their spring semesters.
"I don't know how I got all this stuff home," said Rachel McNally, a University of Florida freshman from Plantation, adding that she returned to campus with two more large duffel bags than she had gone home with.
Students returning to Gainesville and the UF bring memories of winter break, cool gifts from home, and fresh New Year's resolutions - if they chose to make them, that is.
"I know I should, but I never make New Year's resolutions because I know I can't keep them," said Allison Stolow, 18.
However, she plans to apply a hard-earned lesson learned during her first semester at UF.
"Don't take early classes, definitely. Get some sleep," Stolow said.
She had mixed feelings about returning to school, she said, because she had a lot of fun during winter break. She visited family in New York and celebrated New Year's Eve in Times Square.
Returning to Gainesville for her second semester was a strange experience.
"Now that I'm here, I feel like nothing has changed since I left," she said.
Connie Chung, 19, doesn't make New Year's resolutions either, but she wants to improve her grade point average this semester.
"I need to learn how to manage my time," said Chung, a nutritional sciences sophomore. "I need to stop procrastinating and start opening those books."
She said she felt stressed about this semester, because "all of my science classes are scary," she said.
Janya Alegria, 18, is a little nervous about her hardest class of the new semester - Survey of Calculus - but she is happy to return to school.
"I'm looking forward to this semester more than any other semester," Alegria, a marketing freshman, said.
Her best Christmas present was money, she said, but she made sure to bring back more pictures of her Miami home for her Gainesville dorm.
For the new semester, she plans to be more involved in school so she can enjoy her spare time more.
"I will focus less on my social life and more on my books," she said.
Jennifer Walker, 23, has the opposite resolution. "I plan to stay focused, but I really want a social life. I really want to try that," said Walker, a photojournalism junior who transferred to UF from Palm Beach Community College in the fall.
The new school and tougher classes took all her attention last semester, she said, but she wants to broaden her social circle and stay in touch with her friends this semester.
Staying close to a good group of people is important, she said. The main lesson she learned from her first semester at UF came from a bad class experience with group project.
"If you can't depend on other people, you have to depend on yourself," she said.
Walker is looking forward to the new classes and experiences of the semester.
"I just hope I can find cheap books," she said.
For Dan Justiano, 21, this semester is just "getting one step closer to getting that degree," he said.
Justiano, a mechanical engineering junior, said his main New Year's resolution is "to be more physically active."
"I'm going to jog and stuff," he said. The best gift he received over winter break was a fiber-optic light display.
"I'm not sure how to describe it," he said. "It spins and looks really cool in the dark."
Jenifer Rolle, 19, received a digital camera for Christmas, but she thought her best gift was a skillet from her mother.
"I tried it out yesterday," said Rolle, a nutritional science freshman who prefers cooking to eating out.
Her family lives in Gainesville, but Rolle said that she looked forward to returning to the UF campus, which seems distinct from the rest of Gainesville.
"The University of Florida is a city onto itself," Rolle said.
She said she loves both the campus and the people who live there. "We're all the students in the same situation, and we have so many similarities and so many differences," she said. "It's really nice."

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