Friday, December 11, 2009

Need a Ride Home? Take Home Ride!

If you live in major metropolitan area in Virginia and go to UVa (or VTech or Radford or JMU) you have a great opportunity: Home Ride! What is this "ride," you ask? Well, it's run by a private company that serves students by providing busses to take them home for the weekend (or winter break). They route the busses to Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, or Richmond. The cost is different depending on the destination and starting point but I've taken this service many times and not only is it reliable (read: comes on time), the passengers are mostly students and there are no stops on the way so the trip to Northern Virginia takes only 2 hours.

Is it costly? Well, maybe. But isn't home worth it? I know that as a first year student you don't have a car and not everyone knows an upperclassman with a private vehicle. You could also take Amtrak, I suppose, which I've done but it might not be as convenient for you if your hometown is in Hampton Roads. And do you really want your parents driving all the way to Charlottesville to come get you just to drive back again?

Consider this great service next time you are going home if you live in the state. And if you don't, see if maybe you can catch the train from Union Station in DC to your house (because, you know, the NoVA drop off location is at a Metro stop).

Good luck on finals, everyone!  

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Every Hoo down in Hooville...

It’s here, it’s here! Today marks the LAST day of classes for the semester. But perhaps even more exciting is that in just a few short hours thousands of students, faculty, and community members will gather on the Lawn for one of my favorite UVa traditions: Lighting of the Lawn! Lighting of the Lawn is an annual event consisting of two hours building up to the flipping of the switch that illuminates the pavilions, lawn rooms and Rotunda, spreading festive holiday cheer. The lights remain lit every night until Christmas, helping to brighten the spirits of students drudging to and from the library as they study for final exams. While everyone waits to see the lawn lit up, hot chocolate and cookies are enjoyed, acappella groups perform, and the traditional holiday poem is read by prominent University figures. Just writing about this is making me even more excited to head over to the Lawn! Happy HOOlidays everyone!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

we come from old virginia...

I love football season – though, admittedly, that love may not be a characteristic that too many fellow cavaliers share with me (especially after this past season).  Most prospective students who possess the same affinity to the sport will take one look at this year’s 3-9 record and see it as reason enough to write UVa off.  However, as a devoted fan of the team and an ardent believer in the potential of our football program, let me just say that it would be a mistake to base such a decision on mere statistics; it is the entire experience of a gameday in Charlottesville that really showcases what we, as a university, and as a student body, have to offer.
Whether it be on the lawn, at Alumni Hall, or by the AFC, tailgating is an indisputably important tradition before every football game here at UVa; few things can compare to the sheer high-spirited nature of true wahoo fans during those hours preceding kick-off.
As game time draws near, and the crowds file into Scott Stadium, the level of enthusiasm can literally be felt all around.  Guys in ties, girls in pearls, and the sea of orange that epitomize our student section as well as the Hill are undoubtedly one of the first things that opposing fans comment on… and let me just say that there are few times when you feel prouder to be a student at the University than during those moments when students from others school stare in awe at juxtaposition between how we dress and carry ourselves at a game, and how they choose to behave. 
Even during bleak football seasons such as the one that we have just endured, all these other factors make it so that we, as cavaliers, can keep our heads held high.  Any true Virginia fan will say that a mixture of pure, unadulterated optimism, interspersed with humbled pride in our school will inevitably bring us back week after week, season after season.  And if those aren’t reasons enough to convince you, just wait until you sing your first Good Ole Song after a touchdown – there’s no turning back after that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I Feel Like a Kid Again

Through all the stresses and activities of college life, there is a mandatory need to get away from it all every once in a while to stay sane. My weekly escape has been to volunteer at Wesley Community Day Care Center.

The Day Care program is one of 19 volunteer programs run through Madison House, our one stop shop for volunteering in the community. Wesley is one of 7 local daycares where students can volunteer. I volunteer about 2 hours a week in the Transition Room, playing with kids ages 1-2. The most rewarding aspect about the experience is having the two hours to spend with youngsters to just unwind from the stresses as a college student where you’re balancing classes with outside activities, all on top of making sure you figure out what you want to do with your life! These two hours are precious as the kids come up with interesting conversations and never seem to lose energy. Just the other day, I was having a "conversation" with a kid in the playground around a certain tree. He told me that he wanted to buy a chainsaw with the money that he has saved up so far to cut down the tree. Therefore, I ask him how much money he had saved up and he told me $2. I said he might need to save up a couple more dollars before he could buy one and then he tells me that he doesn't want to cut it down anymore: he wants to climb it!

If there is anything that I have gained from my time at the daycare, it is that kids do say the darnest things.

Picture from Madison House's Flickr

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not Everything's Rosy

Let's be honest: there are drawbacks to every school in existence. Whether it's the location, job opportunities, curriculum, staff, facilities--everything can't be perfect. So when you visit schools, make sure you ask students not only what their favorite things are but also their least favorite things.


If there's a home football game, do NOT try navigating Charlottesville near game time. It's a mess. Friday afternoons can be bad, too. Oh, and parking? It's scarce and often costly. Personally, unless there's a pressing reason, I don't understand why students bring their own cars. The convenience just doesn't seem to justify the price.

Why It's Okay

The bus system is incredible! Between the trolley, city buses, and university buses, you can travel from Alderman Library to the Downtown Mall to the hospital to Hereford Residential College to the Law school for free. There is absolutely no charge for anyone to use university buses. Furthermore, the city is so beautiful and compact, I walk everywhere: to the shopping center, the Downtown Mall, the Corner. They're close together, and unless it's raining, the walk is scenic and enjoyable.

Oh, computers. They're wonderful and yet the cause of so many meltdowns all at once. The Student Information System (SIS) is a new version of the Course Offering Directory (COD), and I can list many things I'm more fond of than it. True, part of the dislike is that it's a change from the old system, but there is also the fact that course listings are now more confusing because every course is listed, not just the courses for a given semester. Also, the SIS doesn't allow testing periods to overlap, meaning lots of paperwork to override the system. It's a headache, and it's obnoxious, but we keep it around anyway.

Why It's Okay
The SIS allows you to list every class you want to enroll in and then when the time comes to enroll, click a single button and you're into each course. With the COD, you had to wait to get the list started and so people with 7:20 AM appointment times often complained of being too tired to sign up. Once I had a very early enrolling appointment, and I can vouch that trying to use the COD and correctly get each class when I'm that groggy is only asking for me to make a typo and end up in the wrong class. So that's a major improvement. Also, I did like seeing every course being offered when I had to plan out my major. Having every course just made the process simpler because I had the complete Record in front of me. And no matter how much the computer system upsets some students, they can usually just course action into whatever class they want. Course Actions override SIS restrictions and credit limits. They're an excellent ace in the hole to have when a class closes due to enrollment being filled. Of course, every professor can't always course action everybody, but chances are good that if you really want to be in the course, the professor will let you into it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Katrina Sim

One of the cool things about UVa is the unique experiences you get to have in the classroom. It is interesting to see the different ways professors teach material and try to help us prepare for our future careers. As a first year engineering student you are required to take Sociotechnical Systems, better known as STS. The course is unique to UVa and is designed to help future engineers better understand the effects that technology has on society and life. They need to understand how their decisions could affect the world. One of the staples of this class is a class session called “Katrina Sim.” Katrina Sim takes place over two days, a normal hour and fifteen minute class period, and then a large 6:30pm to 11pm session later that week. It can definitely be classified as a memorable experience. As you and your fellow engineering first years flock into Clark Hall you can feel all the different emotions mixing together, no one really knows what to expect. Ten minutes later it’s a frenzy! The Department of Homeland Security is telling FEMA they need to get levees built, some environmental agency needs shelters, and the mayor’s office tells everyone there is another storm on the way. The whole event is done using a computer program that allows the different groups to link together and send emails, exchange money, and build and design technology to help reform the city. At the end of the simulation everyone just wants to go home and go to sleep, but we all realized that we have had valuable experience of what we may expect once we enter our careers. We learn how to manage demands from multiple companies and still get things done that benefit our own cause. Katrina Sim is just one example of cool ways that professors teach their curricula. Look around when picking your classes and see what interesting things you can find. Or if you have a good idea feel free to email your professor, you never know what they may be interested in implementing into their course. UVa is a great place to be if you enjoy learning in new, different, and interesting ways.

(Peter Malm, 1st year engineering student visually expresses how he felt at the beginning of Katrina Sim)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why UVa?

The other day, a friend in high school asked me about applying to college, how many I applied to, why I chose UVa, etc. I am a second year, I applied to colleges almost two years ago; so I do not remember every application essay I wrote, but I do remember why I decided to come to UVa. I am reminded every day why I go here - the people. Yes UVa is a top notch school, yes I will get a great education here, but it really boils down to the people. If I didn't like the people I would be miserable, because college is not just about extending your factual knowledge. It is also about meeting new people, learning about different cultures from those people, learning from those people in general. Do not get me wrong, the academic aspect of college is very important; it is just easier to live in an area for four years of your life if you like the people you're surrounded by.

I have met so many new and different people since I have been here. People I would never have met under any other circumstances. The other day, I got lunch with a friend of mine who is from Taiwan; and I learned more from him about Taiwan than I ever have. There is a difference between reading a book about a country and talking to a person from that country.

The more people I meet here, the more I love UVa. <3

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Love out Loud! Proud to Be Out Week

Last week, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Resource Center sponsored its semi-annual "Proud to Be Out Week." The theme of the week was Love out Loud and different student groups from around the University held events celebrating LGBT life at UVa and encouraging students to be honest and proud of who they love. Events for the week ranged from a panel of students sharing coming out stories in the Dome Room of the Rotunda, to movie screenings and discussions to the highly-anticipated Drag Bingo party on Friday night.

While Proud to Be Out Week happens once each semester and garners a lot of attention and support for the queer community, there are tons of ways to get involved with the LGBT community at UVa throughout the entire year. Here's just a small sampling of some of these clubs....

QSU (Queer Student Union): A highly social organization, QSU is open to students from across the University, regardless of sexual orientation. Each meeting focuses on an issue pertaining to the LGBT community and gives students a chance to meet one another and discuss topics like gay marriage, adoption or transsexuality.

QUAA (Queer and Allied Activism): While QUAA fosters a social environment similar to QSU, its main focus is rooted in activism. I've seen QUAA plan vigils around grounds, organize UVa's Day of Silence and travel to rallies and activisit events around the country.

Sigma Omicron Rho: As UVa's first gender-neutral queer and allied fraternity, Sigma Omicron Rho represents a giant leap forward for UVa's LGBT community. Founded this fall, the fraternity gives students a chance to find a smaller niche within what can feel like an overwhelming University community.

Whether or not you plan to become involved with LGBT organizations at UVa, its so important to regonize the thriving community present here. The administration and student body are incredibly supportive of LGBT organizations and I feel so thankful to have spent time at such a tolerant and understanding University.

As always, feel free to shoot me an email with any questions!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Taste of Charlottesville

In hopes of not looking too much like a copycat, I’m going to continue with Nicolas’ discussion of food because it is so UNBELIEVABLY good here in Charlottesville! Right now I’m sitting in the Fine Arts café, a delicious organic restaurant on Grounds, but that is ONLY the beginning.

Last night, the Alumni Association hosted an event for all students called the Taste of Charlottesville [see below for my lackluster attempt at taking pictures]. Restaurants from all over Charlottesville came to share their specialties with the free-meal minded student community. Although the lines were long, I was able to snag a small sandwich from Take It Away, a fajita from Baja Bean, cheesecake from the Melting Pot, and some bread pudding from a local French place. Yes, I know what you’re thinking…that’s a whole lot of food. While that may be true, free food must be consumed in abundance when you’re a college kid on a tight budget. Fortunately, the Alumni Association makes this relatively easy. They host various dining events such as Taste and First Year Food Fest throughout the year.

Since most of the bloggers on this are upperclassmen, I don’t think anyone has talked yet about the dining halls/meal plans here on Grounds [which you are required to have as a first-year]. The food here is actually really good and there are so many options [I promise not saying this to sell UVa, I really do think the food here is great]. At any given time of the day you can choose from delicious stir-fry, chicken, steak, deli sandwiches, pizza, fresh salads, soups, and a plethora of desserts. A particular favorite of mine is the Saturday/Sunday brunch served at the Observatory Hill dining hall right by my dorm, Maupin. The food is unreal, especially the omelet bar and the multi-grain pancakes. I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it. Good thing tomorrow is Saturday!

A few other random things I want to share for my post this month..
1. A. If you’re thinking about coming to visit, right now would be an excellent time. Grounds, until Thanksgiving, is really peaceful, a calm before the storm of finals I think. It’s also getting fairly cold and I think it’s good to come up and experience that if you’re from the South. I came up here during November of last year and that trip was very influential in my decision to come to UVa.
2. B. If you’re interested in either the Jefferson Scholars program [I believe that the application deadline for this year has passed already] or the Echols Scholars program, please feel free to email me if you have any questions ( I’m involved with both programs and would be happy to dish out advice/answer questions for those of you interested. I’ll probably do a post on those programs in the coming months, as selection time grows nearer.
3. I hope all of you are having a wonderful start to the holiday season & that college apps (for those of you seniors) are finishing up nicely! Really, please email me if you have any questions. I was JUST in your shoes!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I am Addicted to Food

Some are addicted to X-Box.

Others are addicted to Gossip Girl.

I am addicted to food.

I went to Chipotle fourteen times last winter break (I'm actually wearing a Chipotle t-shirt as I type). I embrace my food addiction (clearly) and before coming to the University of Virginia I researched and taste tested Charlottesville’s most popular food establishments. I would be eating here for four years—1460 days—4380 meals; I had to be sure that there were fun food options. Researching Charlottesville cuisine was a delight and it took little time to realize that the city had some of the best restaurants in the country.

My taste test began at a Thai-Vietnamese restaurant on the Corner—Lemongrass—in the spring of my senior year. I can taste the Shrimp Pad See Ew as if it were yesterday. I went with a friend of mine who was a second year and I was pleased to discover that getting food was a common social activity for UVa students. I had always liked UVa but that was the moment I fell in love.

My next stop was HotCakes, a bustling café located minutes from central grounds in the Barracks Road Shopping Center. I enjoyed a caprese sandwich on sourdough and a side sesame salad. It was well worth the $7.49 I paid and I became a HotCakes regular after my first bite. The café has free Wi-Fi so bring your computer and get a latte or two (or three!).

The taste test didn't end there. I savored more food at College Inn, Bodo’s Bagels, Little John’s, Take it Away, and Miller’s. I explored Charlottesville cuisine before I was a first-year and I encourage you to do the same—even if you live in Alaska and it's via an online to-go menu! Food will be a huge part of your college experience. Luckily for you, the food in Charlottesville is incredible. If anyone wants to grab lunch, I'm your guy!

Bon appétit!

Pictures are from: and

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Club & Intramural Sports

If you're anything like I was in high school, being part of a sports team is really important to you. I'm sure you're struggling with the idea of choosing a huge D1 school where you won't have the comfort of a close knit team and practice every afternoon. But not at UVa, because we have tons of teams you can join! UVa has two levels of teams that are below the D1 level, club and intramural. Within the club teams, there's a variation of commitment and intensity. Some practice four times a week and travel most weekends, and some have a loose practice schedule and stay around grounds. With each team, your experience is really what you make it. I have loved my experiences so far with the Club Cross Country team and the Virginia Alpine Ski and Snowboard Team. We have practices for cross country every day of the week and for ski team two days a week, but for each team it's really when you have the time to come. We have fundraisers to raise money so that we can travel to meets and races, so it's a great way to hang out with your teammates outside of practice. Through my club teams, I've met some awesome people and some of my closest friends at UVa.

Another awesome way to get involved in sports is through all the intramural teams UVa offers. We have everything from inner tube water polo to soccer to racquetball. You can get together a group of friends and make a team, or you can sign up in the singles league and make some new friends! Either way, it's an awesome experience. Games are usually once a week, and they're really laid back. Some people sign up who played the sports in high school, and other people just sign up for the fun of playing. For example, I played on both a innertube water polo team and an outdoor soccer team this semester and I most definitely didn't play on either of those in high school.
UVa's cub and intramural teams offer students a great way to be part of a team and get a good competitive workout every once in a while. And as TJ once said:
"Give about two hours every day to exercise, for health must not be sacrificed to learning. A strong body makes the mind strong." 1785, Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Class Spotlight: Multicultural Education

With the close of the fall semester about a month away and registration for new classes around the corner, I began to wonder about the variety of classes that I've taken at UVa. Coming in, I thought I would be sitting in a lecture hall, listening to the professor ramble while the students sat absorbing the information and taking notes. While I have taken some classes that have fit this perception, I have taken a surprising number of classes that have been quite different.

For example, take my EDLF 5000: Multicultural Education class taught by Professor Bob Covert. Even though I'm in the College of Arts and Sciences, I was able to sign up for this class which is taught under the Curry School of Education. This is common among UVa's undergraduate schools--there are many classes open to just about any major. I walked in the first day and immediately was given my first assignment: sit next to someone that you haven't met who looks different than you and start a conversation. Little did I know that this would be the same assignment each week! Another one of our semester long assignments is to try and remember everyone's name! There is no textbook for the class because multiculturalism is not found in a book: it is found in the people and culture that we interact with everyday. The class is very much discussion driven even though there are about 75 students in the class. The professor doesn't give presentations while students take notes: the professor challenges us to think critically by asking the questions and then students stand up to give the answers. After a lecture of about an hour, we break into smaller discussion groups which are facilitated by undergrad's who took the class the previous semester. In small group, we delve further into what we explored during lecture and recount personal stories to see how the topics apply to our lives. It doesn't hurt that we bring snacks as well. Topics that we have covered in the class include racism, sexism, ableism, sexuality, education, prejudice, and culture. And yes...we do actually do work, writing reflection papers once a week about what we took away from class and writing papers on how our own experiences have shaped who we are today. In my opinion, the most meaningful assignment is a mandatory requirement to do at least 12 hours of community service, preferably with children. The point is to take what we have learned in class and see how it plays out in the community.

This class will surely be one that I will remember many years down the road. Classes like this are one reason why I'm loving my experience at UVa.

Picture by Steve Norum (CLAS 11')

Friday, October 30, 2009

Living as a UVa Student

It is late October, and time is running down. You're looking at schools with all sorts of questions swirling around your head. Which ones to apply to? Which one is your favorite? Will you like it better here or there? Where will you fit in best?

One great thing about UVa is that there is so much going on you are guaranteed to find something that interests you; an organization that you will love and want to commit your time to. And if there is something else you want to get involved in, and UVa does not have it, then you can create it! I am currently a part of Black Student Alliance (, the University Judiciary Committe (, and a program called "I Have a Dream" that mentors a group of students at a local high school.

The Black Student Alliance puts on many events such as Townhall Mixers, Ladies Cocktail Soiree, Black Men's Breakfast, Tailgates, and plenty of other social and political events. The University Judiciary Committee is UVa's student run judiciary system. "I Have a Dream" is a mentoring program that follows a group of students throughout their academic careers and helps them pay for college. The Charlottesville group is currently in the 10th grade.

All three of these groups I am very involved in and absolutely love. I have met some great people through these organizations and I continue to meet great people through them. Getting involved with something you're passionate about is one of the best ways to meet new and interesting people. So when you decide to come to UVa :) find something you love and get involved!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

University Professors

If you’ve done even a little bit of research on UVa, you are probably well aware of the special lingo we use here around grounds. There we have a unique term already! “Grounds” instead of “campus.” You have also probably heard about how we say “first year” instead of “freshman.” An additional lingo tradition stems out of respect for the founder of our University who did not have a Ph.D. – Mr. Jefferson. Here at The University, faculty are referred to as Mr. or Mrs. instead of Doctor, even if they have a Ph.D. While such a tradition may seem silly, I think it highlights the warm, humble personality of so many of our professors here at UVa.

The University is full of brilliant and accomplished professors who are still relatable and available to students. My very first semester at UVa, my Economics professor, Mr. Coppock, invited me to attend church with his family and hosted a dinner at his house for our entire class. This semester I am taking a course with English Professor Michael Levenson and find each lecture so stimulating that the fifty minutes of class literally fly by. Though a leading expert on modern literature and critical theory, as well as the author of many esteemed works, Mr. Levenson is so relatable and engaging that he can somehow connect Joeseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with last Monday’s episode of Gossip Girl. A few weeks ago, my Commerce professor, Jack Lindgren, invited our whole class over to his house for food and football. While watching the Patriots battle the Broncos, Professor Lindgren offered to give us golf lessons at Glenmore – the course on which his house sits.

As you can see, professors at The University do more than just teach students in class; University professors invite students to share in life together, and in doing so they develop the academical village into an academical family. Their willingness to allow students to refer to them as Mr. or Mrs. symbolizes their approachability and the fact that they care more about their students then they do about their title and own accomplishments. When you come visit our beautiful school, be sure to sit in on a class and experience the UVa faculty for yourself!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fun Downtown

I've said it before and I'll end up saying it dozens of times over again to prospective students. Don't ask a magazine or ranking poll what college you should go to because you could end up seriously disappointed. Instead, figure out what you want in a college, and if writing out that list is difficult, then visit the colleges or universities you think you may be interested in. Talk to the students. Ask them what their favorite and least favorite things are about the school, why they chose the school that they did, and what do they do in their free time. It's so important to know that you'll have internships, jobs, sporting events, musical performances, and a host of other options available so that no matter what your mood is, you'll have the opportunity to go do what you want to do.

Now I must admit I love food. Restaurants, coffee shops, bagel stores, candy factories--they all sound amazing to me, and one of my favorite places to go to eat is Downtown at Chaps.

If you go to Chaps, you will probably get to meet Tony. This is Tony. He is awesome. Definitely one of the warmest people I've ever met, Tony is the kind of guy that always greets you with a smile and will remember your name. In general, I love diners because they remind me of Bethel Park, Pa where a majority of restaurants are owned by a family rather than a chain. The atmosphere is cozier, homier. I feel more like I'm walking into a friend's kitchen rather than somewhere less personable like McDonald's. Now, there's nothing wrong with McDonald's, but for me, I will always choose places like Chaps again and again because they are unique. McDonald's? The burger you get in Cleveland is identical to the one in Austin. You will not find another Chaps anywhere, and whenever you travel--be it for work, play, or whatever--go to these types of stores. Seek out those unique stores because that town is your only chance to experience them.
Pictures by Steve Norum.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We Run This (, seriously, we do)

One of the greatest traditions that we uphold at UVa is our devotion to the idea of student self-governance.  I’m not sure if this is a new term for you, but if it is, rest assured that it is not a difficult concept to grasp – it means what it says; at our university, the students decide which issues are important and, subsequently, the students lead the initiatives to make things happen.  From seemingly trivial issues, such as where to place recycling receptacles around grounds, to more grave situations, like trial proceedings for a peer accused of breaking the honor code, it is individual students who make up the groups that ultimately decide what happens.  Opportunities to join groups (which we lovingly refer to as “CIOs”) arise all the time, and, particularly, the Student Activities Fair that occurs at the beginning of each semester is when organizations do the majority of their membership recruitment.  Moreover (even though it seems like there is something for everyone here), if you find out that what you’re looking for doesn’t quite exist yet, you are encouraged to start an organization yourself!  Not only does it take the student body’s feeling of accountability to a whole new level, but it is a system that embodies everything Mr. Jefferson’s University stands for. 

Tonight was one of the rare occasions that the entire Student Council (StudCo) met as one (I think that only happens once a year, as Student Council consists of 200 members or so), and, with many of the students leaders at this university under one roof, it was pretty easy to latch onto the excitement and commitment that emanated throughout the room.  Split up into various subcommittees such as Student Arts, Athletic Affairs, Environmental Sustainability (this is the committee that I am a member of), Academic Affairs, etc., StudCo encompasses a vast range of topics that directly affect the University, and is the physical embodiment of the term “student self-governance.”  Among other things, in the past Student Council has: run campaigns to unify UVa with the surrounding Charlottesville community, worked closely with faculty to discuss plans for the University’s new president, partnered with local cab companies to provide free rides for students travelling alone at late hours, and countless other proposals that affect us all as UVa students.  So, aside from the other million-and-one brilliant reasons as to why you should consider the University of Virginia among your top choices of colleges, you can add our strong and proud tradition of student self-governance to your list!

As always, feel free to email me any questions!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Erin Go Bragh! Education Abroad

This semester, I'm taking my first UVa English class; Modern Irish Literature. It took my inner history major a bit of time to adjust to reading novels instead of manuscripts, but I've been really enthralled by all of the books, short stories and poems that we've read so far. So much so, that I've just signed on for a two week January term program with the professor of the Ireland!

I always knew that I wanted to study abroad, but there was no way that I could leave UVa for a whole semester. So when I found out that I could take three credits in Ireland over winter break, I was sold. The course studies Irish literature, music and art, and our time will be split between Galway and Dublin. We'll spend part of each day in a classroom, and will then have the afternoons for cultural exploration. In taking walking tours, attending theatrical performances and engaging in conversation with local people, we'll get a fantastic sense of the true Irish culture that you can't learn about in a book. This will be my first trip to Ireland and I cannot wait!

UVa has a huge iniative right now to encourage students to study abroad, and the January term program is a part of that. UVa students have the oppurtunity to spend a semester, a summer, a year or a two week January term anywhere in the world; so study abroad can work into any schedule. And when I say anywhere in the world, I mean that quite literally. There are programs in every field of study on every (inhabitable) continent. We're still working on Antarctica...

I'm already counting down the days to my arrival in Galway (78 left!) and can't wait to post pictures and stories when I get back! As always, shoot me an email with any questions!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Role reversal: being on the other side

 Today was an interesting day for me. I realized that I am, in fact, on the other side of things. I am that college kid you see pouring over a textbook when your tour guide leads you through the library, the one actively engaged in a conversation with her friends in the dining hall (who you see when your parents take you there after the tour to “experience” college food), and the one seated out on a quad (or in UVa’s case—the Lawn) with friends enjoying the beauty of the college environment. This realization occurred today as I walked out of my ‘Intro to Western Religious Traditions’ midterm. As I passed a large group gathered around their tour guide, I saw many eyes glance over at me. In my jeans and Virginia sweatshirt, I looked the part of a typical UVa student. Moments later I ran into my friend, Paige, who introduced me to her friend, Sarah, a senior in high school who is applying to UVa. The words rolled off my tongue without me even thinking, “Come to UVa. It is AMAZING here!”

 Prospective students, believe it or not, this will be you someday at whatever college you choose to attend (hopefully UVa!!). As obvious as that sounds, somewhere between the teacher recs and essays, I think it’s easy to loose sight of the fact that you really will become a college student someday and all of your labors will be well worth it. In the craziness of applying to college, there is hope alas.

  Right now, I imagine, many of you seniors are indeed somewhere between the teacher recs and essays. I hope that it is going well! It’s hard to believe that was only a year ago for me. I wrote my Common App essay on the issue of corruption in the business world because of an internship that I’d had the previous summer. If you’re planning to choose that topic, I suggest relating it to a personal event as well. As for the UVa supplement (for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences), I wrote about a painting of my grandmother’s for my “favorite work of art, literature, or math” and then I discussed the quote for my second essay, relating it to some events in my high school career. Having just gone through the essay-writing process less than a year ago, my best advice is to make it personal. You could easily answer the Common App and UVa Supplement essay questions without providing much personal depth, but don’t fall into that trap. 

  Also, I know that it’s easy to really stress about the essays, I certainly did. I would encourage you to resist that temptation and take heart in recognizing that most of work is already done. While my essays were important, they certainly did not get me into UVa. Now that I’m on the other side, I realize that four years of working hard both in school and in extracurriculars did. The fun will come in late March/early April when admissions decisions come out and you’ll be one step closer to being on the other side, hopefully at UVa with me!
  Also---because blogs are just not as fun without pictures, here's a picture of me and some RUF friends on a hike last weekend!

Best of luck with everything guys! Shoot me an email if you have any questions!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Peer Health Educators

One thing about U.Va. that I enjoy is the student run clubs. Every day students are encouraged to follow their dreams, to change someone's life, to educate each other. One group in particular that is very influential in many U.Va. students' lives is the Peer Health Educators organization. PHE offers outreach programs to organizations within the University, including Residence Life, Greek organizations, and other groups. There are four outreach programs currently offered:
  1. Sexfest
  2. Nutrition
  3. Buzzed (drugs and alcohol)
  4. Trouble in the Bubble (stress management
In my college career, I've listened to two of those: the sexfest and the nutrition programs. Sexfest was basically a sexual education talk and the nutrition is pretty self explanatory. I found them very helpful because the student presenter(s) explain the topic and you can ask questions about anything related. The atmosphere created is very comfortable and no one is forced to be in the program.

I wanted to share with you all something I learned in the Nutrition program this past Thursday: know your portions.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Delicious Autumn

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. -George Eliot
Pancake flipping, apple picking, candy “tricking” and treating… There’s more to fall than the chilly air and the changing leaves - at least at UVa. The Charlottesville fall is delicious.

Pancakes for Parkinson's was founded in 2004 by Mary McNaught. This Saturday, thousands of UVa students and Charlottesville residents will come together on the lawn to enjoy the event. Music will be played, pancakes will be flipped (and eaten), and the voluntary contributions of many will make an indelible mark on the fight against Parkinson's disease. It's one of UVa's dearest autumn traditions.

Last fall, I got a taste of another delicious UVa tradition: apple picking. Every October, students explore the orchards of Carter Mountain in search of the perfect apple or pumpkin. To be honest, it's more like a hill than a mountain; you won't need your hiking boots! You will need an appetite, however. After purchasing your Pink Lady and Granny Smith, you can indulge in warm cider and apple pie. It doesn't get much better than that.

We're 26 days away from my favorite fall event: trick-or-treating on the Lawn. Charlottesville toddlers sweep the lawn as ghosts and goblins and UVa students distribute candy from the pavilions and student lawn rooms. It's no haunted hayride, but it's an event that can't be missed. Charlottesville embraces the University in so many ways so it's wonderful to see the University embracing the children of Charlottesville. Come out on Halloween for a wicked good time!

Take some time to digest all of the deliciousness I've just described. I don't know about you, but I'm salivating. Like a pancake, an apple, or a bar of chocolate, Charlottesville has all of the right ingredients to make it a rich college town. If you've yet to travel to UVa, it's about time you have a taste. We're 77 days from winter...and you won't find any apples in the snow!

Respectively, pictures are from:

Saturday, October 3, 2009


So I know most of you are at that point where you're looking at a ton of schools, trying to figure out what college is the best fit for you. You have no idea what to write you're essays on, or even how to find the applications on some of the web sites (I remember it took me a while on some sites..). Well, have no fear because I'm here to give you a little insight on the whole process!

I looked at a million schools. In the spring of my junior year every long weekend or school vacation I had my mother would be dragging me off to look at colleges. At the time I was annoyed by it, but looking back it was probably the best decision. Visiting all of the different colleges I was interested in really helped me to get a feel for them. I was able to talk to students and find out why they came there, and walk around the campus and just see what people were interested in and how they spent their time. I did two things at every school that really helped me figure out what it was all about, and if you're stuck on a school I recommend it. When I met a student, I would always ask them one question: What is your favorite thing about (college name) and what is your least favorite thing about (college name)? Sometimes people told me awesome things about their college that I would never have known otherwise, and sometimes people told me something they didn't like about their school that made me realize that maybe it wasn't the place for me. For the record, I couldn't find anyone at UVa that could tell me something they didn't like about the school. The other thing I always did was I looked at the bulletin boards and flyers to see what sorts of things the school did and what kinds of groups they had. The thing that interested me in UVa was the fact that there were so many different groups and activities going on throughout the campus.

UVa wasn't really on my radar when I first started looking at schools. I was looking more for a city school with tons of activity, but someplace that also had access to the outdoors where I could hike. I was hesitant about visiting UVa since coming from Boston it was the "South" but when I saw it I couldn't resist the beauty of Grounds. I wandered around and started talking to students, and every single person I talked to was so excited that I was looking at UVa. I had never had that sort of reception before, and it made me realize that everyone at UVa actually was so excited about their school that they wanted other people to be as excited too. Now, two years later, if a high school junior/senior came up to me and asked me about UVa I'm pretty sure I would be super excited too. The more I learned the more I liked, and I soon figured out that it was pretty close to what I was looking for. Charlottesville is a beautiful city with so many resources available to get involved in the community, and the Blue Ridge Mountains are only a short drive away. Everyone loves the school, and people who go here work hard but know when it's time to just kick back and relax.

When the time came I applied to 12 schools, UVa included. I know it may seem like a lot, but I was genuinely interested in each school, and they were each a little different. I had big schools, small schools, rural schools, city schools, schools close to home and schools far far away. I did have to write a lot of essays, but to be honest they seem worse than they actually are. My best piece of advice is to just write about something you love. If you write about something you love, your personality will come across on the paper, and after all thats what colleges are looking for. I wrote my essays on running, rock climbing, and traveling. Not complicated subjects, but each things that I loved and could really show my personality through.
In the end, I was accepted to UVa and after much deliberation chose to come here. It wasn't an easy decision, but its one I'm really glad I made. I've loved every second of it! If you have any questions about the application process, both at UVa and elsewhere, don't hesitate to shoot me an email!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

UVa Mountain Biking!

My getaway has always been on a bike. In high school when I was loaded down with work or I was just feeling down, I would call up a buddy and go hit the local trails by my home in Roanoke, Va. Something about the air rushing past your face, the intimate connection between you and nature as you blast down a narrow trail clinging on for dear life. One of the things that upset my about leaving for college was leaving behind my mountain bike and my favorite pastime. I didn’t think it would be that bad until about two weeks into my first year experience I was once again craving a mountain blast. I knew I had to get it out of my system somehow, but where would I go in Charlottesville? This wasn’t the rural mountainous area I heralded from? There couldn’t possibly be a good place to bike here? A few Google searches later I realized how wrong I was. A mere half mile ride from my dorm, on the hill behind O’Hill Dining Hall there is an entire trail system dedicated for runners and bikers. I was ecstatic; I grabbed my helmet, printed out a map, and jumped on my commuter bike (bad choice). Within the space of fifteen minutes I was blasting down a mountain trail, leaving all my worries behind. I was quite pleased by the trail system, a nice blend of fast down-hills and gentle (but rocky) up-hills, well until I got a flat tire jumping off a drop. So this trip didn’t end so well, and I got a nice hike back down carrying a bike (much to the amusement of gathering tailgaters). A few weeks later, I convinced my parents to bring up my mountain bike and have since been riding O'Hill almost daily. It's a great workout and lets you take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily college life. Go out and explore campus you will be surprised what you find. Don’t let yourself be trapped in your little square of campus and your first weeks at UVa will be all the better.

(Send me an email at and I'll be glad to ride with you or show you the trails when you come visit!)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

How this works...

Hey Everyone!

By now, all the new writers for the blog this year have posted their intro posts to let you know that these friendly faces will be bringing you all things UVa. One thing I must disclaim is that the blog is freely run, independent from the Office of Admissions and UVa for that matter, so we are not told what to write. The first piece of advice that I got from the office when instituting this idea was that they wanted it to be student run (as most of the things here are) with topics about anything we wanted to write about. I head this blog as part of my work with Virginia Ambassadors which is a CIO (UVa lingo for club) that devotes itself to showcasing our lovely University to those interested in learning more about it.

We will be posting about all things UVa...sports, classes, professors, majors, activities, housing, dining, applying and many more. Since this is catered towards answering your questions, if there is something in particular that you'd like us to share, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or email one of us!


Photo taken by Steve Norum (CLAS '11)

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Welcome to the HooStories Blog! I'm so excited that you're interested in UVa, and I hope that reading this blog helps you to learn more about this awesome place!

My name is Kate, and I'm a second year in The College. I plan to major in Cognitive Science and minor in French, and my long term plan is to go to law school. But there are so many things here at the University to explore; nothing is set in stone! I come from a small town south of Boston, Massachusetts. Yes I'm Irish, yes I love the Red Sox, and my friends tell me I have bit of an accent although I tend to disagree.

When I first started looking at schools, I hadn't even considered the University of Virginia. We were in the area and my mom wanted to visit because she had heard of the beautiful public gardens behind the lawn (she's big on flowers) so we came through Charlottesville. After a solid two hours of walking around campus while my mom and the head gardener on Grounds had a heart to heart, I knew that this was a place I could really see myself at. Fast forward two years, and here I am!
I love UVa, coming here was probably one of the best decisions of my life. I have met so many amazing people and done so many cool things I never would have had the chance to do otherwise. For example: I'm going white water rafting over fall break! I love getting involved around Grounds, like volunteering for Madison House (a student run service organization), being a Project Serve site leader, and doing research in a psychology lab. Plus, I run for the Club Cross Country Team and Ski for the Alpine Ski and Snowboard Team. Yes, there are ski mountains in Virginia and they're only 45 minutes away from UVa!

UVa has so much to offer, and there's always something new to try. I hope you all get the chance to experience these awesome opportunities! If you have any questions or just want to say hey, feel free to shoot me an email! Until then, I'll keep you posted.


All about Kelseyyyyy

Hello world of the Bloggers! :)

My name is Kelsey and I am a second year at the University of Virginia. I have absolutely no idea what I want to major in, but that's okay! Because here at UVa you don't have declare until the end of your second semester of your second year! So my goal for this semester is to decide what I want to major in. I am toying with the idea of Politics focusing on Foreign Affairs, or the new major we have called Global Development.

I'm having such a hard time deciding on a major because all my classes have been extremely interesting! I have no idea which way I want to go.

One of the great things about UVa is that there is such a variety of classes you can take in all subjects and of all sizes. There are lecture classes, where there can be over 500 people in a class. And there are smaller classes where there are no more than 15 people in a class.

So, I went off on a tangent and just talked about the University (because its so great! :]), now back to me. I grew up in Goochland Virginia, which is a small rural area right outside of Richmond. I am a country girl and I am proud to be! :) I love volunteering and playing soccer. I am the Leadership Co-Chair of Black Student Alliance, I am involved with a mentoring program called "I have a Dream" and I work at a gym on grounds! I love hanging out with my friends and having a great time.

I am so happy that you are considering UVa and that you are reading our blog. We blog for you!! So if you have any particular questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask me!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Hi, I don't believe we've met; I'm Judy

Welcome to the HooStories blog! If you’re reading this, I hope it’s because you’re interested in/you already adore UVa; if this isn’t the case, feel free to continue perusing anyway, but just know, we all pretty much love this place, and that fact will make itself very apparent, very soon. Either way, I hope you enjoy reading about our thoughts, experiences, and lives as students here in Charlottesville!

My name is Judy, and I’m a third year here at Mr. Jefferson’s University, currently studying foreign affairs and art history. I’m originally from Glen Allen, Virginia, but usually, when people ask, I just say Richmond; I’ve learned that this is much easier than having to explain “well, it’s not exactly in the city, technically it’s considered part of the suburbs…” only to be met by bored stares.

Anyway, so, when I started the process of applying for colleges, I have to admit, UVa wasn’t even on my list of possibilities – my heart was set on going out-of-state since… well, since forever. But, as it happened, I impulsively applied ‘early decision’ (which we sadly no longer do) and got in. To this day, I count it among the best decisions of my life.
These days, it’s hard to believe that my undergrad experience as a Wahoo is more than halfway over, but all that I’ve done and everything I’ve learned in the last two years has been more than rewarding – and yet, somehow, I’m always finding new things to love about this university.

My most recent preoccupation involving UVa that I absolutely cannot stop raving about is the Semester at Sea study abroad program we offer. I chose to go this past summer, and really, this program is honestly the absolute best of its kind. Not only did it give me the best summer of my life (who could really dislike travelling to 10 countries in 67 days), but I was also able to forge friendships that will never disappear, as cliché as it sounds. Then again though, that’s how I feel like my entire experience at UVa has been – filled with the best kinds of people you would ever care to meet.
So, on top of the academic, historical and overall wonderful aspects that choosing UVa will inevitably provide, there is no other place on earth where you will be able to find friendships like the kind made between fellow cavaliers… not that I’m biased or anything. :)

That’ll do it for this post, but I’ll be putting new posts up periodically, so feel free to check the blog every now and again. Until then, definitely don’t hesitate to email me with any question, concern, or inappropriate joke you might have.

Have a great weekend!

Welcome from Lauren!

Hi there! So glad you’ve come across this blog. My name is Lauren, and I am a fourth year although I don’t really like talking about that because it pains me to think of ever graduating and leaving this wonderful place. So we won’t talk about graduating :) Instead I’ll write here from time to time so as to share with you all the things that make me love these grounds so much. I’m from a town just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and love my home, but have become a huge fan of the beautiful state of Virginia.

I am an English major and a Media Studies minor so I rep what we refer to here as THE COLLEGE (short for the College of Arts and Sciences). However, my UVa experience has been more then just English papers and reading media theory articles (although I do very much enjoy both!) Here on Grounds I am involved in my sorority, Reform University Fellowship, and the American Marketing and Advertising Assocation. I am a Class of 2010 Trustee and serve on the Graduation Planning Committee – ironic, considering I am so opposed to graduating! I also volunteer through Abundant Life Tutoring and tutor a second grade student at a local elementary school. I love spending my time being involved in both UVa life and the Charlottesville community.

I hope you will check back in from time to time and continue to learn more and more about the fabulous life of a HOO!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

An intro to Shelby

Hey guys,
Thanks for checking out the HooStories blog. I’m so excited that you’re interested in UVa. I can hardly believe that it’s been a year since I was in your shoes. Pinch me!
My name is Shelby and I’m a first-year from Houston in the great state of Texas. As much as I love Texas though, the state of Virginia, in particular, this University, have been so wonderful to me. My first month here has been an absolute whirlwind. I’ve gotten involved in everything from volunteer tutoring to a Christian fellowship to writing for this blog and plenty of things in between. And then there’s school of course…
Right now I’m taking several of the pre-requisites for the McIntire School of Commerce (Comm School) so that I can apply to it during my second year, but I’m also hoping to get another major in Business Ethics/Religious Studies through the Echols Interdisciplinary Majors Program, all of that is subject to change though. Even four weeks in UVa has presented me with some really great opportunities that I never imagined I’d have.
To all of you potential out-of-staters, don’t for a second worry about coming in here alone and not finding friends. In high school, I had 3 best friends and we all went to different schools. I thought it was going to kill me and that I’d never find friends like Mish, Maris, and Joobs (nicknames) here. But, surprisingly, I was quite off the mark on that one. College has a way of leading you into great friendships right from the outset (although I definitely do still miss my high school friends). Below is a picture of me and some new friends before the first football game!

Anyways, this blog will be where I’ll report on various things here at UVa, mostly my experiences here. So expect to read about anything: school, friends, family, faith, clubs, events, parties---it’s all fair game. Have a great week guys!

Happy Humpday: A Welcome from Nicolas

Happy humpday everyone. Thanks for checking out the HooStories Blog. My name is Nicolas and I’m a second-year from Richmond, Virginia. I’m working at the Rotunda as I write (feel free to stop in and say hello when you’re here) and I’m counting down the minutes until the weekend (approximately 2880). My plans include:
A trip to the UVa Art Museum to see the new Academical Village Exhibit
A taste of what the Vegetarian Festival has to offer and
A touch of classic competition as I watch the Polo match on Saturday
Friday-Sunday keeps me going. There are always adventures in this eclectic, Blue Ridge town.

It’s crazy to think that just a year ago I was a first-year, completely unaware of what was in store for me here at UVa. I would become a tour guide, survive Financial Accounting, volunteer in the Dominican Republic, and enjoy the Foxfield Races. I would learn about myself as an individual and I would grow as a student. I would fall in love with the University of Virginia.

I’m a huge believer in signs, so I think your discovery of this blog is an important one. Interpret the sign as you wish, but I have an inkling that UVa might be the perfect fit for you. If you disagree, I challenge you to visit Charlottesville and give this place a shot. If you don't have a "crush" on UVa after your visit, let me know.
I’ll be blogging periodically about my miscellaneous weekend experiences, my academic pursuits (in addition to the pursuits of others), and student life in general.

Stay tuned, prospectives. I have a feeling my second-year will be better than my first and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

2779 minutes till the weekend!


Intro to Janna

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the student blog. I hope you enjoy reading what we enjoy writing about: UVa! Some of us have been here a few weeks, others, a few years. We all have different experiences, different points of view, different majors. The one thing us writers have in common is UVa and we want to share with you so you'd enjoy it just as much.

My name is Janna. I am a fourth year in the School of Architecture, majoring in Urban and Environmental Planning. Whenever someone asks me where I'm from, I ask them which version they'd like to hear. And no, not because I lie to people. But because I grew up in many places/countries/cultures and it's not always appropriate to share my entire life story. I was born in Russia, spent a few years in Kazakhstan and Germany, lived in Miami, Florida for six years, moved to Fairfax, Virginia for my senior year of high school, and now I'm going on my fourth year at Charlottesville. See? It's not as simple a question as you'd think. When someone asks me where I'm from and I feel like telling the whole truth, I say, "Planet Earth, have you heard of it?"

Thus, my life will most likely not be centered around one place or one city. I plan to travel and see different places, and raise my children the way I was raised, albeit for different reasons. Perhaps some things I write about will be influenced by my experiences. Perhaps not. You'll just have to wait and see.

Now, I hear I should write about some hobbies or whatnot. Well, let's not make this post more about me than it already is. If you are that interested, you will continue to read my posts and try to email me or something (which, please feel free to do!).

This blog is about UVa and its students, and the experiences one provides for the other. Thus, expect to read about the unexpected, including (but not limited to): classes, clubs, events, parties, volunteering, movies, graduate school, jobs, friends, family, heartbreak, elation, and life.

Take care! Come back often to experience some more of UVa!!

Image Source:

Welcome from Patrick

Hey Future Wahoos-

Thanks so much for checking out our blog! My name is Patrick, and I'm a FOURTH YEAR student studying History and African American & African Studies. I'm from Belmont, New Hampshire and love my New England roots. I was lucky enough to spend my summer at a summer camp in Connecticut doing ridiculously Northern things like sailing, but I'm so psyched to be back to UVa for the school year!

When I first began my college search, UVa was not even on my radar. I was certain that I would go to school in an urban area, where I could be in the thick of politics, culture and fashion. During this phase, my family and I were touring schools in Washington, D.C., and my mom suggested that we check out UVa while we were there. I had no idea where UVa was, but my parents assured me that it was "just over the Virginia border." You can imagine my surprise when we finally arrived two hours later! Although I was skeptical at first, my tour and visit to Grounds really sold me on UVa. And now, four years later, I can't imagine myself anywhere else.

I've found everything that I was looking for in an urban school, plus the incredible community of Charlottesville as a bonus. There is so much to get involved with here, whether that's exploring the Blue Ridge mountains, eating at amazing restaurants downtown, going to sporting events (It's a building year for football), or playing in sporting events like Intra-Mural Inner Tube Water Polo. Not to brag, but I'm a force to be reckoned with; that is, if I can manage to stay in my tube for the whole game.

Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have, especially about being a far-from-home out of stater. I'm also a tour guide, so please come on my tour if you're visiting 'Hoo Country!