Transitioning to Florida

Rattler Edge Beauty Supply on FAMU’s campus. Photo by Derrick Taylor

With an acceptance rate of around 33%, Florida A&M has proven valiant in its efforts to remain the No. 1 public HBCU in the country. Students from across the nation submit applications every year in hopes of an opportunity to attend the university.

Given that FAMU is stationed in the Sunshine State of Florida, many outsiders who have never visited FAMU are unaware of the region’s landscape. Palm trees and humidity are among the many aspects that make Florida such an interesting terrain for newcomers.

For students leaving their hometowns and culture to call Tallahassee home for at least the next four years, it can seem like a daunting task. From Florida natives hailing from different ends of the Sunshine State to Tallahassee natives, Florida A&M is truly a melting pot of cultures, specifically that of Floridians.

Kevia Jakes, a psychology major from Phoenix City, Alabama, had to make adjustments once she arrived at FAMU.

“There are way more Black people here and there is a clear distinction between the landscape here as opposed to Alabama,” she said.

Jeylan McGhee, a third year agribusiness major from St. Paul, Minn., touches on her experiences transitioning to Florida.

“The weather is a complete 180 down here. I mainly wear sweatshirts and hoodies back home and coming down here made me change my wardobe up,” she said.

When asked about the cultural differences between her northern roots and her current southern locale, she said,
“The Southern hospitality is something we don’t have where I am from. The yes ma’ams and no sirs are not a normal thing from my experience in Minnesota. The people down here will talk to you whenever when at home it is not like that. Sometimes I may have even come off a bit rude or standoffish to others, but I am definitely working at it. The Southern hospitality must be rubbing of me,” she added.

As a Florida native, Ashley Brown, a second year business administration student, said, “I think that Florida culture is a huge culture shock to non-Florida natives. Tallahassee is a city of diversity in terms of Florida. I am from Jacksonville and when talking about Florida culture, there will always be bias due to the region you are from.”

From the perspective of an insider, Brown said, “Out-of-state students, although they may feel out of place, they seem to blend in well to find their way.”