Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Beauty Beyond the Books
When trying to decide what I wanted in a college or university, I started by listing the essentials and then giving schools credit for having beyond that list. I didn't want a glorified office space. I wanted the full package: classrooms, libraries, gyms, and grass. That's right. I wanted greenery, architecture, culture, history. Every school you visit will have a library (ps- UVa has 17), will have dorms and a meal plan. At UVa, there are two very special areas that I'd like to highlight. It's important to remember that while you're in college, you will--on average--spend far more time outside of the four walls of a classroom. And so I urge you whenever you visit a college or university to ask the current students what they do outside of the lecture halls. Is there a place to meet? Are there malls? How about restaurants? Later, I'll address Charlottesville's offerings on eateries, but for now, I want to focus on the Gardens, the Amphitheater, and the Lawn.
Behind each of the ten pavilions of the Lawn, there are ten gardens, each filled with unique flowers. They are absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. My favorite is pictured above, Garden 5, home to Noble, the University dog that students are encouraged to come visit. The Gardens are completely public; anyone can enjoy them. Clubs and classes often throw parties in the gardens. If you come for a tour, please, please, don't forget to peak into the gardens.
Okay, okay, so technically it's not a true amphitheater, but who cares? At one time, the Amphitheater was just a parking lot but no longer. A capella concerts, rallies, and so much more happens here. Chi Omega even has the Amphitheater as a hole in their charity event Golf Across Grounds. Also, a few days before school starts, hundreds of clubs will pack into the Amphitheater hoping to attract new members in an event called the Student Activities Fair.
The Lawn is an incredible area to gather for any reason. It hosts major events like Convocation, Graduation, and The Lighting of the Lawn, but it also plays a vital role in student life day to day. I've yet to walk onto the Lawn and not see a student playing frisbee or baseball or reading a book. Last year, my dorm held two cook outs on the Lawn. Everyone came out, shared a meal, and then played and napped on blankets they'd brought. Charity events frequently set up tables on the Lawn, as do clubs doing fundraisers.
DID YOU KNOW?
Monticello and UVa's Lawn together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Together, they are the only university recognized by the UN as a World Heritage Site, and one of eight cultural sites in the United States. To put it in perspective, The Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall are also cultural sites in America. This distinction is a huge honor for the University, signifying that it is culturally and architecturally significant and unforgettable for mankind as a whole.