My name is Nicky van Beek. This fall semester 2015 I studied at Rosen College in Orlando, Florida. Rosen College is a part of the University of Central Florida. This means you are officially a student at UCF, however you’ll be living on another, much smaller campus (Rosen campus) that is located in the heart of Orlando’s tourists center, about 30-45 minutes from main campus. I lived together with my roommates; 2 American girls and 1 British exchange girl. We all got our own room, the bathroom I shared with my British roommate and the living room and kitchen we shared with the 4 of us. In the first week, I also met the other exchange students at Rosen, from main campus and some ambassadors; these are students at UCF who like to be involved with the exchange students and show them around. During the exchange they planned some trips for us. As a Rosen student you can get involved in all the events at main campus; tailgating, football games, basketball games, free concerts and comedy nights and many others. You’ll have to rely on the shuttle bus or get an Uber to events on main campus. The main campus atmosphere is very relaxed and tolerant, just like Floridians in general. People are very friendly and it is not weird for them to start conversations with strangers and start friendships like that.
UCF students are all referred to as ‘knights’ and this is also the mascot. You are a part of this really big community (the biggest University in undergraduate enrollments!) and you can feel this on game days the most; people are wearing UCF merchandise, the colors black and gold and cheering for their team with special songs and movements that everyone knows. Main campus is like a small city only inhabited by UCF students and some professors. It is huge and almost everything you need can be found on campus; a huge gym, food places, hairdresser, clothing stores, a pool, sports facilities, etc. I really loved being a part of this and taking part in all these typical American college traditions such as homecoming and the football and basketball games.
Before I left I could chose what classes I wanted to get enrolled in. This way you can create your own schedule and I did it in such way that I only had classes on Tuesday and Thursday! I myself am an ILM student but I took one Theme park & Attraction management that I really enjoyed. My teacher was Ady Milman, a man with a lot of knowledge about the theme park industry all over the world. His way of talking about theming and creating experiences really reminded me of Imagineering. I must say classes at Rosen are very theoretical however; I learned a lot of the industry and even got some inside information on future plans of the major theme parks in Orlando. Besides learning about the industry in class you also have the opportunity to experience the different parks yourself and you will probably meet a lot of people that work there since quite a lot of UCF students have a part time job at these theme parks. You will learn about the theme parks in various ways and perspectives and this is a very unique perk of living in Orlando.
The Rosen College is located on Universal Boulevard, only 10 minutes away from Universal itself. Since we lived so close to Universal my roommate and me decided to get an annual pass. By showing our UCF ID card we got the Florida Residency discounted price. Universal has two parks so if you plan on going multiple times it will be worth it! Disney is much stricter in giving you the Florida residency discounted price however I did manage to get myself a 4-day admission pass for about 220 dollars Florida residency rate so I could see all of the parks except for the waterparks. A huge advantage of living in Orlando is that you can go to these major theme parks in low season, when you really have the time to see everything and not spend the majority of the time waiting in line. During my stay in fall I was there to experience Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. This was definitely my favorite event at the theme parks. Universal Studios was all decorated in Halloween style; full of scare zones and haunted houses themed like the big horror movies/series.
Besides being the theme park capital of the world Orlando and Florida have so much more to offer. While you are living there you have enough time to experience Florida’s beaches, springs, everglades, Miami, The Keys and much more.
I am very grateful that the NHTV offered me the opportunity to study abroad and even more that I had the chance to do this on a real American campus in the heart of the theme park capital of the world! If you want more information you can read my very extensive experience report on intranet!