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Life as a Transfer Student

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My name is Hilary, and I play for both teams.

Wait, wait... no. That didn't come out right.

I cheer for both teams -- as in rival universities: Florida State University (Seminoles) and the University of Florida (Gators).

The mutual hostility dates back to a time before my existence -- before my parents', for that matter.

Yes, it's true: I am what Babe Ruth is to the Red Sox and the Yankees, never mind his Hall-of-Fame status, World Series championships, envy-worthy nicknames, and price tag.

In Tallahassee at FSU, freshman year of college was like most: I moved into a less than aesthetically pleasing dorm, took a math class I didn't understand, went on spontaneous adventures with friends and enjoyed the freedom of sleeping in on weekdays. Life in garnet was as good as gold.

A little more than a year later, it was time to apply to my major of choice. There were hundreds of applicants for 40 open spots. Despite my good academic standing and stellar resume of extracurricular activities, I decided to research programs at other schools for good measure and apply to keep my options open.

Soon after came the emails, the postcards and the heavily stamped snail-mail. I had been accepted to the University of Miami and the University of Florida as a transfer student into the respective programs of my choice. Engulfed by brochures displaying a bustling campus life, promise of desired course load and the prospect of a sunnier, more southern city, it was decided. TTYL Tallahassee.

Transferring schools was exciting, scary, slightly less intimidating than Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime.

Upon arriving to UF, I knew a handful of people -- mostly from high school. I missed my group of FSU friends, and the two-hour driving distance facilitated my absence at celebrations, Seminole sports and Starbucks study sessions at Club Strozier (the library).

The transition, however rough at times, remained positive as I met new people and learned to claim my cool outside my comfort zone.

Is it a choice I would recommend? It's a tough, personal and likely uncomfortable decision to make -- especially for those who drive around town with the mascot of their former school plastered across their car's license plate (just saying). It's not for everyone.

Other than an appreciation for baseball and belonging to rival teams, Mr. Ruth and I have little in common. The Great Bambino, known for his tenure as a Yankee, suitably suited up for most of his career in pinstripes.

My legend, according to the diploma that hangs in my apartment, is associated with the University of Florida. To some, this is slightly peculiar, as I spent more time studying at Florida State.

So, what's a girl to do (during football season)?

Peers, colleagues and die-hard fans look at me as though I've opted to wear permanently mismatched socks (my right foot being garnet and gold, the left being orange and blue) for eternity.

My friends do their best to explain my abnormal educational background.

FSU Diana: This is Hilary -- she went to FSU but left us for UF.
[Dramatic silence ensues]
FSU New Acquaintance: But... you're a 'Nole, right? [wink]

Or, my favorite -- I am introduced as a recovering brainwash victim.

UF Michelle: I want you to meet Hilary. [Fake whispers] She used to be a 'Nole, but she came to her senses [wink, wink].

Among the overabundance of creepy facial hinting, all I can do is smile.

Choosing a side is like choosing a favorite sibling (which is an entirely different dilemma, as I have three). With both of my collegiate experiences, sometimes I look back on great times with amazing people, and in other instances, I resent spending so many hours of my life searching for my car in the ever-winding parking lots (on both campuses, actually).

Will I ever take sides? Will both parties ever see eye-to-eye regarding Tim Tebow? Does it snow in Florida? (Answer key: No, No. Yes. It sometimes -- but very rarely -- flurries in the most northern counties of the Sunshine State, just FYI).

Regardless of obstacles, uneasy changes and potentially awkward moments, being a part of both parties is fun -- as long as I still get an invite.