Friday, February 27, 2015

A variety of UVA sports

Before I came to college I wasn’t at all into sports. My high school didn’t have a lot to offer to spectators and I was never very into watching professional sports. When I came to UVA I learned how exciting college athletics can be. Some of my best memories from college have to do with attending sporting events. Everyone knows about basketball, it has already warranted its own post. But UVA has so much more to offer in addition to hoops.
The athletics program boasts 25 varsity athletic teams and has won 21 national championships, the most recent victory belonging to men’s soccer. Women’s soccer and men’s baseball are up there too, both finishing second nationally within the past year.

UVA’s student section, Hoo Crew, does a good job of promoting student attendance at a variety of sporting events. Not only does more varied attendance give you a better chance of getting tickets to basketball games at JPJ, but it makes you a more well-rounded and dedicated fan. My personal goal is to try to attend an event for every sport. In my experience so far I can say soccer, baseball and lacrosse events are just as exciting as any other sport.

As an extra bonus, many times varsity athletes will come out to support other sports at UVA. For example, last year Joe Harris threw the ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game at Davenport Field. In addition, men’s basketball players can be spotted at the women’s games at JPJ.
If you’d rather play than watch I would recommend looking into club sports or intramural sports at UVA. Club sports are more competitive and intramural sports are much more casual. For intramurals you can sign up with a group of friends, your dorm or as a free agent. These sports range from soccer and football to ultimate Frisbee and dodgeball and are always a lot of fun.

So no matter what your degree of enthusiasm for sports may be now, be prepared to become an instant fan when you come to UVA!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

So What Exactly is Happening to the Rotunda?

UVa's Rotunda is getting quite the makeover. When you're almost 200 years old, you could probably use a face lift, too. Three years after the University of Virginia was established in 1819, construction of the Rotunda began and was completed in 1826. Jefferson's original plans for the Rotunda included exercise yards, classrooms, and a library. Once Alderman Library was created in the 1930s, the Rotunda was no longer central to academics. The Rotunda renovation is meant to restore Jefferson's building back to its original purpose. In 2016, it will resume its former role as a library and classroom building that unites students and faculty in an academic setting.Today, the Rotunda is a World Heritage Site and the core of UVa's grounds. The second phase of this renovation costs around $42.5 million. Don't worry, tuition money is not paying for it. Actually, the majority of funds are from private philanthropy. How thoughtful!

So what exactly is happening to the Rotunda? Here is a brief list of construction plans:
  • classroom space expansion
  • portico roof replacement
  • updating utility systems
  • new marble capitals
  • Dome Room ceiling replacement
  • underground room to house mechanical systems

Pros and Cons: Since the Rotunda is the centerpiece of UVa, its construction has undoubtedly altered events and traditions. For example, 2015 Final Exercises will occur during two days in May instead of one. As a result, the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will have their Final Exercises on May 16 and all of UVa's other schools will have theirs on May 17. This limits students to allowing 4 guests and prevents some friends and family members from graduating together. On the other hand, the renovation will give students the chance to attend classes in Jefferson's self-designed building. It'll allow the UVa community to connect and embrace the history around them. The Rotunda isn't just a historical landmark, it's a symbol of neoclassicism, education, community, history, and dear old UVa.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why UVA?

As many of you know we hold online chats a couple times a semester for perspective students to ask any questions that they have which current students do their best to answer. From my experience, one question is asked more than any other: why should I come to UVA? Now I can't speak for why any of you reading this should come here, so I will just list some of the many reasons why I chose UVA and why I haven't regretted that decision for a second since coming here.

1. The academics
UVA is consistently rated among the top schools year after year (we're currently tied as the second best public school in the nation according to US News and World Reports.

2. The price
As an in-state student, you really can't beat the price for the quality of education that you are getting.

3. Majors
There is a wide variety of majors available as well as options for double-majoring or minoring so you can explore all of your interests.

4. Study abroad
There are many different programs to pick from and the administration really encourages students to take advantage of all of the opportunities (which you can read more about here

5. Location
Not only is UVA only a few hours from my hometown in Northern Virginia, downtown Charlottesville is just a quick drive (in a car, bus, or the free trolley) from grounds which offers entertainment, food, and a change of scenery.

6. The students
Everyone who I talked to, current students, former students, and administration, absolutely love UVA. Sure, everyone has things that they don't like as much but overall the amount of school spirit people have is amazing.

7. I felt comfortable and at home here
The most important thing when deciding on a college is how you feel when you visit there and whether you can picture yourself there or not. I have to admit that it took me about three visits to really get the feeling that I would like to come here but I definitely felt that connection before committing. At the end of the day, while statistics, rankings, and the feelings of school spirit that students have are great, only you know what school is right for you. I do however, have to highly recommend a visit here either just for a tour or as a part of Days on the Lawn to get a feel for how awesome UVA is.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Love for UVA Basketball

One of the greatest privileges enjoyed by UVA students is to be a fan of the men’s basketball team. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that we are pretty good. Currently ranked #3 in the country, UVA basketball is no longer an up-and-coming team. It has the capacity to compete with the very best. I believe that since we are this good and since Tony Bennett is such an awesome person it would be a total travesty to not take the opportunity to become a rabid fan while you’re a student at UVA. Therefore I have come up with a list of my top five moments as a UVA basketball fan.
 5. Ranking in the top five has to be my first time experiencing a men’s basketball game at JPJ. The atmosphere is indescribable and the team can easily feed off of the energy of the fan base. Charlottesville loves UVA basketball. After my first game I was hooked and I have missed very, very few home games since then.

4. An opportunity I would recommend to any basketball fan is Ball with the Hoos. This event is held in the fall, prior to the basketball season. Students can participate in games like knockout and the three point challenge against actual players. Although my attempts to score points in these challenges were less than successful, it was still so much fun. All of the players are incredibly welcoming to their fellow students.
 3. The most recent event on this list is ESPN College GameDay. Held this past Saturday at JPJ, the ESPN broadcast showcased the loyalty, craziness and intensity of the most rabid UVA fans. More than 5,100 people attended the event and brought creative signs and high-pitched screams in support of the basketball team. As this was the first time GameDay came to Charlottesville, I believe it is truly a testament to how far the program has come.

2. Meeting the team’s bus at JPJ after their win at the ACC tournament in Greensboro last March was absolutely incredible. It was freezing cold and snowing hard, yet fans still showed up and waited to congratulate the players in person. Honestly, it was probably the most excited I have ever been.
 1. Number one on this list has to be watching the team win the ACC tournament title. It was a fitting sequel to an ACC regular season title. Although I did not attend the game in North Carolina, I still watched on TV in Charlottesville. That game was perfect. Last year’s season was nothing but historic and I know that the years to come will only further prove how deserving Virginia is of national recognition.
- Megan Beissner 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Spring Semester Survival Guide

        Believe it or not, the spring semester is here already! For some, this is a time to reconnect with old friends, make new ones, dive into some books, and pull all-nighters in Clemons. On the other hand, it may be hard for some students to get back into the groove. A warm, comfy bed is pretty appealing when it's freezing outside. So how do you stay focused and avoid falling behind? Well, here are some tips--take it from a fourth year.
Study: This may seem like a no-brainer but sometimes it's harder than you'd think. If you regularly go to class, take notes, and do homework, then studying should be easy-peasy for you. Go over your lecture notes and highlight what's most important. We all tend to zone out in class at times so remembering the main points in your notes will do wonders come exam time. Also, look over passages from textbooks or readings that your professor pointed out in class. If it was important enough for them to discuss, then it'll be important on the exam. Avoid distractions and go to a quiet place. Netflix can wait.
Time Management: Time can either be your best friend or your worst enemy in college so get on its good side. Write down your assignments, readings, and exams on a calendar. Once you've completed a task, cross it off. Be sure to check your schedule every day. If you think you can write an essay overnight then plan for it. Likewise, if it takes you a week to write an essay then ensure that you give yourself enough time. Don't push yourself beyond your limits. Do your assignments ahead of time; not at the last minute. For example, finish your readings before lecture or study every day the week before an exam. It'll help!
Office Hours: This may seem crazy, but professors are actually here to help you. Visit them during office hours - they'll love it. Whether you need help writing an essay or need a concept simplified for you, seek out your professor. Plus, you're only here for a few years so take some time to meet them and your TAs.
Relax: It may seem odd that putting your feet up every now and then can lead to a successful semester but it's true. We get so caught up with assignments, deadlines, meetings, events, and our social lives that we forget about ourselves. Sleep is one of the best ways to stay relaxed and focused. Although it might be impossible to get a full night's sleep every night, try to sleep for eight hours at least three days a week. This way, you're giving your body the rest that it needs. Relax while studying, too. After you've completed an assignment, take a 30 minute break. Have a snack; go jogging; watch TV. You're brain also needs some rest.
Now go forth and conquer!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Have Yourself a Merry Little Winter Break

Leaving so soon? While winter break is a wonderful time to escape from the stress of academia, to spend with family and friends, travel, and watch Netflix for three days straight, there are numerous ways to enjoy break right here in Charlottesville.

1. Monticello.
Until December 30th, Monticello is offering Holiday Evening Tours. See Jefferson's beloved home decked out in Christmas decorations as well as explore Monticello's Dome Room. 
 2. Main Street Arena
Ready to hit the ice? The Main Street Arena in Downtown Charlottesville is home to an awesome ice skating rink. Public skating is offered weekdays (except Christmas).
3. Paramount Theater
Another great Downtown Mall hotspot is The Paramount. During winter break, enjoy Christmas concerts, watch classics such as It's a Wonderful Life and The Sting, or even catch the Downton Abbey Season Five Premiere Party.
4. Jefferson Theater
There's always something to do at Charlottesville's historical Jefferson Theater. Aside from seeing awesome bands, you can attend 106.1 The Corner's Ugly Sweater Holiday Party. Proceeds benefit the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. 
 5. Massanutten Resort
If you're feeling adventurous, you can drive roughly 45 minutes to the Massanutten Resort in Harrisonburg, VA. Whether you prefer snowboarding, skiing, or snow tubing, Massanutten has it all. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Food on Grounds (also known as, what you think about when zoning out during class)

If there is one question that is hotly debated here at UVA it is this: where is the best food? Read on for one woman’s extremely subjective and highly questionable take on this hot button issue.

Ohill (aka Observatory Hill Dining Hall): This is the land of the first years and unlimited meal swipes, conveniently located right next to new dorms. The food here is what you would expect from a dining hall and therefore how good a meal is really depends on the day. However, throughout your first year you will come to love Ohill and its waffle-makers, perfect for a late night snack or an 11 o’clock brunch.

Crossroads: A convenience store located within Ohill is a wonderful land of junk food, burgers, cookie dough, Sbarro, and also salads, fruits, and “real food” (though I can’t remember ever getting any of this supposed real food so I cannot attest to its quality). Crossroads meets all of your study night/movie night/ hang out needs, especially late at night since its hours are later than the dining halls. There is no finals study session blues that cannot be cured with a Crossroads burger or milkshake.

Newcomb: Located more in the center of grounds this is the place for more low-key, before class breakfasts and very busy lunches. From my experience they tend to serve a greater range of food on a day-to-day basis and their salad bar is almost always on point. Plus, they are more likely to have whoopie pies which make it preferable to Ohill.

Food trucks: There are currently two food trucks that park right by the amphitheater during the middle of the day for the lunch. They are quick and easy ways to get food on the run or to eat in the amphitheater if it’s a nice day, and they take plus dollars which means you get the feeling of going out to eat without spending actual money. The dumpling cart is a fan favorite, a fact attested to by the long line they have pretty much always. The line does move fast though and the dumplings are totally worth it. Though be warned, once you try them you need to get your dumpling fix at least once a week. The other food truck is The Pie Guy. Fairly new, he doesn’t draw a crowd like the dumpling truck does even though he serves a good range of pies for only $5 including apple pie, which we all know is the absolute best kind of pie.

West Range Café: Also a wonderful drain for your plus dollars, West Range tends to be more the domain of upperclassmen located as it is next to the lawn rooms. If you are brave enough to go in however, you will find the best french fries on grounds. Seriously, these things are awesome and also very addiction-worthy. But, if you’re not a french fry aficionado like me, there are also really good sandwiches and sweet bakery things, all of which are really fresh.

Honorable mentions: Greenberry’s in Clark hall (just as good as Starbucks with much less of a chance of a huge line and long wait), the Pav in Newcomb (because Chick-fil-a, quesadillas, and smoothies are part of a balanced, healthy college diet), and the Fine Arts Café in the Architecture school (for when you feel like eating something organic and sustainable but also surprisingly tasty).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to be a Big Fish in a Big Sea

In a University filled with intelligent and hard working students, it is a constant struggle for individuals to pave their own unique path and distinguish themselves from their peers. However, there are many little known ways in which students who search hard enough discover as means to differentiate themselves academically and carve their own educational niche at the University of Virginia.

The first not-so-obvious trick is to utilize the variety of options students have regarding majors. I remember my orientation leader telling my group during the summer before first year, “you will see - during your first two years at the University of Virginia, 49% of students will identify themselves as ‘pre-med’, 49% as ‘pre-comm’, and the last 2% as ‘other’.” Even when, inevitably, a good portion of the student body gives up, either on their own accord or by the application process, on their ‘pre-med’ and ‘pre-law’ aspirations, they gravitate towards the same few majors. Both ‘pre-med’ and previously ‘pre-med’ students tend to lean towards a Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Environmental Science or Physics major, while previous ‘pre-comm’ students choose a Economics, Psychology, Mathematics, Statistics, History, or one of the two Politics majors, remaining one of the masses.

On the other hand, it is rare to find students who major in American Studies, African-American and African Studies, Archaeology, Art History, Classics, East Asian Studies, Human Biology, Jewish Studies, Linguistics, Medieval Studies, and Women Gender and Sexuality, and many more! A fact that many students forget to consider is that the majority of graduate and professional schools do not have specific majors that they prefer over others. For example, while getting into a Medical School requires the taking of certain ‘pre-med’ classes, there are no particular majors they prefer. You can elect to major in any field you wish and as long as you take those prerequisites, you can still, with the right GPA of course, get in to your medical school of choice. The same follows for Law Schools (which have no undergraduate requirements), Business Schools, and other professional programs. In fact, majoring in something different could increase your chances of acceptance by giving you an edge regarding the diversity of the entering class.

Secondly, many students either ignore or are uninformed about the various interdisciplinary programs available at UVA. An interdisciplinary major allows students to take classes for a variety of fields in order to get their degree with a greater range of exposure. A couple of the interdisciplinary majors offered at the University of Virginia are Global Development Studies, Political and Social Thought, Cognitive Science, Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law, and Neuroscience. These majors all operate based on a selective application process with the number of students admitted ranging from 20-70 per year, depending on the program. By choosing one of these majors, and getting in, students are not only able to distinguish themselves from the rest of their class, but narrow their focus while still getting exposure from various departments. With my Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law Major, I have been able to take classes in the History department, Politics department, Commerce department, Psychology department, Sociology department, Philosophy department, and Economics department that all count towards my major while my roommate who is majoring in Government is limited to taking her 10 required courses from the Politics department. You can even choose to create your own interdisciplinary major and submit an academic plan for approval. You would think that with such great programs available, many apply to them every year, however only a shockingly small amount of students do, and those who do, tend to apply to multiple ones at the same time.

As a final note, minors are also often ignored and wasted at the University of Virginia. At UVA, you are allowed to double major but not double minor. Therefore, a more careful consideration is needed before making such a decision. Many students opt to minor, or even double major and minor, seeing as a minor can constitute as low as 5 classes to complete. As the case with majors, it is also easy to predict which minors people will choose. The most common minors include Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Spanish, Government, Foreign Affairs, Philosophy, Psychology, and Sociology. Students need to keep in mind that there are a large variety of exceptional minors to choose from and use to academically distinguish themselves from their peers. Some examples include Bioethics, Classics, Global Culture and Commerce, Global Public Health, and Studio Art. With such a variety of both majors and minors to select from, students at the University of Virginia are fortunate to have the opportunity to have their own distinctive academic route, so keep these possibilities in mind!