Friday, October 29, 2010

The New Semester Approaches

It’s about that time: 11:54 p.m. Just before midnight, I always seem to lose momentum. The effects of my green tea are wearing off, and as students dwindle out of the library, I feel less obligated to maintain my studious composure. I slump in my chair, and all but shamefully type in the web address bar f-a-c-e-b… Alas, no notifications. And I waited a whole hour! One final time, I’ll refresh my browser. To my surprise, I’ve received an email from my faculty advisor. “Please log into the SIS before scheduling an appointment.” Beautiful. I log into the Student Information System and am suddenly replenished with the excitement I felt late last summer registering for classes. It’s about that time: 12:00 a.m. and the next semester is approaching with the sunrise.

Am I really up for this? As exciting as it is to be planning a whole new schedule, scanning the list of classes for next semester can be equally overwhelming. As an English and/or Politics major, I highlight about 18 different courses, among them Advanced Studies in Literary Criticism, The American Short Novel, Politics in Islam, Leadership and Character, and International Law: Principles and Politics.

But how can I neglect my life-long dream of taking Italian? What about studies in Global Development? African Religions? Anthropology?

And because, as a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, I have to fulfill a few requirements, I scan the science and math sections to see if anything’s remotely interesting. I run across Principles of Nutrition: the physiological study of health, proteins and energy. Human Biology and Disease, studying the human immune system. Psychology of Aging, the study of how humans age and interpret death.

There are twelve schools at UVa, some of the most renowned including Commerce, Engineering, and Architecture. Students aren’t only restricted to one of these schools. They are offered the opportunity to take up to 18 credits in any one or multiple other schools. So, not only can I choose liberal arts classes offered by the College, but that awesome drama teacher my friend raves about? So choice! That urban planning and development course? Why not? That unexpected inspiration and life-changing class? Completely within my reach.

My list continues to expand and my excitement ameliorates. Can I really only take 15 credits? How will I ever choose?

Fortunately, all students are provided with advisors, deans, and professors who help sort through all these classes to comprise the schedule that is most appropriate for their interests or intended major. Additionally, once the semester begins, students can add, swap, or drop classes, depending on their workload, interests, and position on the waitlist. Professors not only are required to have weekly office hours to be kept open to students, but teaching assistants and discussion sections give most students additional resources for large lectures.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pancakes came...and so many other things are coming.

As almost every blogger has expressed, the fall is a wonderful time to be at the University of Virginia. To accompany the changing leaves and dropping temperatures, UVa offers a number of special events:

Football games
Mid-autumns Carnival
Trick-or-treating on the Lawn
History Week
Family Weekend
Third Year Ring Ceremony
Lighting of the Lawn

Two of my favorite fall events are Pancakes for Parkinson's and the Virginia Film Festival.

On October 16th, the seventh annual Pancakes for Parkinson's took place on the Lawn. Thousands of students, faculty members, and community members came together to enjoy free pancakes while making an indelible mark against Parkinson's disease. More than a dozen musical groups offered their vocal support, providing free entertainment while people enjoyed regular, blueberry, and vanilla pancakes. Two football favorites - the drum line and Cav Man - made special appearances.

Pancakes for Parkinson's is an official Team Fox fundraiser and is the largest one-day student fundraiser at UVa. Over the past seven years, the organization has contributed nearly $200,000 to Parkinson's research. The event exemplifies three integral parts of UVa culture: community, charity, and fun. Pancakes for Parkinson's is a cherished event that will be around for years to come.

Another event the UVa community values is the Virginia Film Festival (VFF). Although the event is intricately connected University, the event is literally Virginia's Film Festival. Students can attend most screenings for free, many of which have star attendees. Last year, Matthew Broderick came for the screening of his film "Wonderful World." The 2010 VFF boasts an incredible line-up of films.

One unique offering of the VFF is the Adrenaline Film Project, "a 72 hour filmmaking competition where 10 to 12 teams of three filmmakers must write, cast, shoot, edit and screen a film." Despite UVa's general status as a liberal arts school, events like the Adrenaline Film Project put the University on a similar level as more specialized, technical schools.
Some films I plan on checking out:
Black Swan (11/4, 7:00 PM)
Freedom Riders (11/5, 6:00 PM)
Don't be Afraid of the Dark (11/6, 9:00 PM)

Now is the perfect time to come visit the University!

Happy fall!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hey Readers!
I hope everyone is having a great October and enjoying the fall season (only nine more days till Halloween!). Fall is my personal favorite: the colors, the weather, the fashion, the holidays. Honestly, it wasn’t until I came to UVa when I realized that. Pictures don't do this school justice.

On another note, I’m sure all you seniors out there must be stressing – college applications, essays, recommendations, and SATs on top of schoolwork and extracurriculars. Breathe, stretch, shake, and don’t forget to enjoy your last year!

I remember like it was yesterday when I clicked enter on the Common App - actually, no - scratch that, I’d rather not remember all of the long sleepless nights of editing my essays and trying to overcome “Senioritis”. But I’ll tell you one thing for sure – it’s all worth it in the end. Trust me.

Here I am now – a second-year student at the College of Arts and Sciences. I’m potentially double majoring in Biology and Art History (I know, two completely different things) and am considering medical school.
Blue-Orange man and Me at the first home football game (Totally new experience since my high school never had a football team!) We won. (P.S. Do you see the large expanse of orange behind us?.. That's just the tip of the iceberg.)
I’m originally from a city right across Manhattan, so if any out-of-staters have questions, shoot me an email! I live off campus and am involved with the UNICEF club here, volunteering at the hospital, researching at a Lab, and writing for the Cavalier Daily. I’m currently training to become an Honor Educator. As you can see, I love keeping myself busy and I assure you, you’ll find something you love, here at UVa, too. Second year is pretty challenging (thank you, Organic Chemistry) but it’s going.

There’s a lot I could write about in my first post – from why I chose to come to UVa to the place where students spend most of the time during exams, the libraries. However, I’ll talk a little about what has been keeping me busy. There is a tradition that is celebrated on the lawn every year – it is called “Trick or Treat on the Lawn” where children and parents from the local Charlottesville community come to … trick or treat. This year, UNICEF is hosting it’s annual Trick-or-Treat festival in the amphitheater at the same time right next to the Lawn, and we’ll be featuring a mix of recreational, competitions and performances by UVa student groups to raise funds for UNICEF's work for children around the world. As the Outreach Chair, I have been busy contacting different organizations around Grounds asking to participate (eg. acapella groups, service clubs, etc.) It’s going pretty well so far and I’m excited for how it turns out – a little more than a week left! Maybe, in my next post, I’ll be able to upload some pictures and videos of it to show you how it went!

Pie-eating contest at
UNICEF's T-O-T Festival last year

Until next time.
P.S. Happy (early) Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's always the small things in life...

Hey guys! Thanks for checking out the Hoo Stories blog! You won’t regret it—okay, I might be biased—but, seriously, I think you’ll find helpful information here as you read through some posts.

Here’s my quick blurb to introduce myself: I’m Christina Reynolds, a second year in the College of Arts and Sciences (CLAS). I’m hoping to major in Commerce and toying with the idea of majoring in Financial Math, too. I come from the sunny beaches of Fort Lauderdale, Florida (if any of you OOS are curious about the transition, feel free to email me!) Although I do sometimes miss the sand between my toes, I absolutely LOVE living in Charlottesville and going to UVA—the seasons, the college town, the school spirit, and I could go on for hours, but I’ll save that for another post! I enjoy spending my free time working with Second Year Council and greening our community as a member of StudCo, as well as with my sorority and writing for you! (Here's a pic of me enjoying my first snowy winter with some sorority sisters—I'm the one on the right :)

It was difficult to choose one topic for my first post, but it became obvious as I went to the AFC (our newest gym, right between old and new dorms) yesterday—one subtle thing reminded me of why I absolutely love UVA and am so happy to be a Wahoo!

I’ve always walked to the AFC, as the commute totaled a whopping three minutes last year. Now that I’m living on the Corner, I decided to drive for time’s sake (gotta make it to class!) Anyway, I knew there was some sort of parking fee to park in front of the AFC, so I went inside to see what it was all about. As expected, it was a typical parking meter that I’d see at any garage or airport. I paid (thankfully, a reasonable $.50/hr), printed my ticket, and—as I do whenever I pay for parking anywhere—went back to my car to put it on the dashboard.

I was curious, though, because it didn’t say anywhere on the ticket “Please put this on top of your dashboard, so that it is clearly visible” or anything of the sort. I’ve parked in many garages in my day, and the parking receipt has always required that in order to prove your purchase. Weird. I shrugged it off, but as I swiped into the gym, I decided to ask the attendant about the parking ticket out of curiosity. “No, you don’t need to put that back in your car,” she told me, casually.

I was confused: I knew that I needed to pay for parking. Why would I not have to leave proof of my parking purchase at the AFC, when I must do so every other place that I’ve parked in my life?

And then it hit me. I am a UVA student. And as one, I am inherently part of the community of trust we have here at UVA, an idea unique to our university and a direct benefit of our Honor Code. There’s no need to go back to my car and prove I paid for it because all students are assumed to be honorable, such that we will not lie, cheat, or steal. The UVA community trusts that if I park my car there, I will pay for parking. In this case, it saved me five minutes after the clock started ticking. But what stands out to me more is all that this experience represents, especially knowing the kinds of standards that all UVA students are expected to uphold for themselves and their fellow students from the day they step onto Grounds. And in most cases, they do. These are my peers. It's awesome to be in a place where I am surrounded by so much integrity.

Without a doubt, our community of trust is one of the many reasons I love being at UVA. As a first year, I lost my wallet TWICE—yes, I may be a bit distracted sometimes—full of cash, all my credit and debit cards, and both my student and state ID. The first was in Alderman library, and a student immediately emailed me saying he had it. The second time I must have dropped it on the sidewalk while walking, and the grad student who found my wallet dropped it off in the psych department office and notified me that it was waiting for me. On the other hand, I lost my wallet with all its contents while I was home—not only was it not returned, but whoever found (or stole it) used my credit cards multiple times! Of course, I can't promise you that if you lose your wallet here, it will be returned to you, but I do believe that your chances are better when you are surrounded by the community of trust found here.

I'm looking forward to blogging for you! Feel free to shoot me an email about anything ( Until next time....

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Good Old Dorm Life

One of my biggest concerns about going into college was definitely the living situation. It is a total new set up. I would be living among strangers and for once share a room with someone. There were also so many possibilities of ending up in different dorms. So many rumored horrors of college revolve the living situations, i.e. living in a hall dorm, where it is always too loud, getting a monstrous room mate, or living with no air conditioning, and etc. Truth is that certainly everything has it's pros and cons, which vary very differently from dorm to dorm.

Room mates. When deciding who I was going to live with, I had a lot of worries. Most people live with someone that they don't know. Well, nowadays people fill out little surveys on the UVA Facebook pages and then people chose each other, but still, they are strangers. There is only so much you can learn of someone through their Facebook profiles. Anyway, what was hard was worrying about what if the person is a complete psycho, an incredibly messy person, an annoying person, a snorer, someone that parties too hard, and the list goes on. I actually chose a good friend from high school to live with. Surely, I am missing a part of the "real ideal college experience" of living with someone I don't know, but there are just some major worries relieved. Everyone in high school was like you guys are going to get so sick of each other, you guys are going to hate each other, that is such a bad idea, but I'd argue that it is very nice to know someone that you can already trust. We have similar styles, tastes, and enjoy the same type of fun. I didn't go into college worrying about some weirdo watching me sleep and stealing my stuff. If we don't end up being friends forever, it won't be because we lived together, but rather because growing apart with people is a natural process that happens. There are so many great people at the university that it is not something to fret about.
Dorm rooms. I am now living in Echols, one of the McCormick Rd. residences, a first-year dorm. It has no air conditioning and yucky plastic tile floors, but I love it to death. My room mate and I get along very well and we love our room. Throw in a nice rug and get a comfy floor, a floor lamp for some nice ambient lighting, and various other things to make it more homey. Wall decorations are definitely a must. If you're worried about the heat, it'll only be a problem for the first month. We haven't turned on our fans in very long, but we just leave the window open. It really isn't all too bad at all. The location of Old Dorms is also really the most ideal place to live at, because it is right among everything. The other first-year dorms are really nice too, although a little bit further from Central Grounds. Some of them are the Alderman Residences, Gooch/Dillard, and Hereford. These have air conditioning (minus some of the Alderman Residences that are going to be renovated) and if I remember correctly they have carpet as well. These suite-style residences are nice, because it's almost as if you had little apartments with a couple of people. There are rooms and then a common area that connects all of them. Suite-mates can become really close friends, but so can hall-mates. Everything is really about how you make out your experience living in any place with any people, as opposed to having to deal with the living arrangements you are assigned with.
I hope that this can relieve at least some worries about living in dorms at the university, because quite frankly, as a first-year you have no choice but to live in them. It's really not a big deal at all, because everywhere you go, you will find great fellow Wahoos. When you come visit, make sure you get a look at some dorms, but remember that you can keep it how you want it (as long as it coincides with the fire code). With it being the Halloween season, I leave you lovely readers with this:

Be safe! =)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why Did I Choose UVA?

Hey everyone! Just a little bit to introduce myself - I'm Mike Howe, from Earlysville, VA (a small town outside of Charlottesville). I'm a second year in the College of Arts and Sciences, double majoring in Computer Science and Economics. Outside of classes, I enjoy being involved in the Greek scene at UVA through my fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, and I also participate in Admissions Chats for prospective students. In my spare time I enjoy doing anything outdoors, especially swimming and hiking.

Anyways, onto the topic of my post:  why I chose UVA.

The Academics:  I knew that I wanted an academically challenging school, where I could expect to work hard.  UVA is just that - students push themselves, and take their work seriously.  It's competitive, but not overwhelming.

The Value:  Being in-state, UVA offered a great value over the out-of-state schools I was looking at. Even for those who are out-of-state, UVA is often less expensive to attend in comparison to other similar schools.

The Activities:  UVA students are incredibly involved outside the classroom - we have literally hundreds of student-run clubs and groups.  There's a club for almost anything, from a capella groups to brewing societies.

The Size:  I knew I wanted somewhere that was big, and where I could constantly meet new people.  At the same time, I didn't want a school that was so large that I felt like I knew no one.  UVA has the perfect balance - it's large enough that you're always seeing new people, but you still see familiar faces everywhere you go.

The Setting:  UVA has a beautiful campus - the pictures in this post don't do the setting justice.  The weather in Charlottesville is fairly moderate, not too hot and not too cold.  Being right by the Blue Ridge Mountains offers many opportunities for hiking and other outdoor activities.

A view of the rooms on the Lawn, right by the Rotunda

Serpentine walls by the gardens

I'm extremely happy here, and I'm positive that I made the right choice.  If you're considering UVA you should definitely come to visit!

Friday, October 8, 2010

You'll just LOVE UVA!

Hello readers! Thank you for stopping by this site! I hope that your college search is going well. I can hardly believe it's been two years since I was in your shoes. The saying "time flies when you're having fun" has certainly been true for my college experience.

Anyways, I had a hard time making a decision about the topic of this first post for the year (tossed around the ideas of the AFC-gym, the beautiful fall weather, and my favorite little town nearby, Crozet & the pizza place there), so I've decided just to give a little intro about myself this go around. I'm a second year (how did that happen?) student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In the spring, I will apply to the Commerce school, but I am still interested in possibly doing an Economics and Religious Studies double major. By the end of this year, I will have declared a major. Whoa!

At UVa, I'm involved in Reformed University Fellowship (a Presbyterian fellowship), my sorority, and Abundant Life (a community outreach program to a local neighborhood). With school and friends on top of those activities, there's rarely a dull moment!

This weekend, we have fall break here at UVA. There won't be any classes on Monday or Tuesday. In a few hours, I will be leaving for DC to stay with a friend there. Many of the in-state go home for fall break and take their out-of-state friends (like me, I'm from Texas) home with them. After we get back from break, Pancakes for Parkinsons week will be in full swing. Pancakes is a rather unique event to UVA, enjoyed by all. I will probably write my next post about it.

That all being said, best of luck with the college search!I am looking forward to blogging for you guys this year. Please email me if you have any questions! Enjoy the pics of me with some RUF friends.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Write Club

The Student Activities Fair gathers about four hundred clubs into one spot on the Lawn for one purpose: to impress students and encourage interest in the club. Some of the biggest recruiting happens here, and it's not just for first years. I go every year, and it was there that I ran into an old friend and roommate of mine Jessica Hatch. Along with Anna Kovatcheva (another friend and suite mate who is not pictured), these two formed Write Club.

My favorite product of Write Club is that it fills a much needed niche. Fiction Writing classes at UVa are small and amazingly popular. Snagging a seat in one of those few classes can be tricky, but for this CIO, there isn't a minimum. Anyone with a desire to write is welcome, regardless of talent or experience in writing poetry, novels, or short stories. It's a setting that is informal enough to attract the shier writers but undoubtedly structured enough to be a positive experience for any level of writer.

In their own words:

What We Do: In the fall term, Write Club supports National Novel Writing Month participants through October Boot Camp - meaning that we spend the month of October working up to writing 2,000 words a day - and through a writing buddy system. Like having a gym buddy makes you exercise more often, having a writing buddy helps you get through NaNoWriMo more easily. In the spring term, we host a series of fiction writing workshops to provide an outlet for feedback on short stories, novel excerpts, and the occasional poem. We have also, at various times during the year, organized scavenger hunts, open mic nights, and charitable bake sales.

For those of you a few years off from applying to college, no worries, because an Exec Board has been established. It really is a great group of people running the show, and they do so many activities outside of just writing that Write Club ceases to be simply a writers club and instead turns so much more dynamic.

If any of you have any questions about Write Club, feel free to post them or email me, and I can forward you on to them.

Some other pictures from the Fair:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hi, my name is Jasmine, I'm a UVAholic.

Hey HooStories readers! Thanks for stopping by and I hope that my posts will further your interests in coming to the best, UVA!
My name is Jasmine Le and I’m a first-year in the College of Arts & Sciences originally from Germany, but now from Herndon, VA. I have been here for a little over a month and I don’t regret coming here whatsoever. Truth be told, UVA wasn’t even my first choice anymore once the application process during senior year rolled around, but I am glad that I chose to come here and would have majorly regretted it otherwise! The great thing about this place is that there are endless things to explore.
I’m a German-Vietnamese-American space and time traveler, professional eyeliner-mustache drawer, hard rocker, fashion enthusiast, and SUPERHERO! Just kidding… kinda. I just like to think of myself as very adventurous and I am always seeking new things to try—next thing I know, I’m with Virginia Skydivers. I like going to concerts and getting bruised up in the pit, and spending time in between classes online shopping instead of doing homework. I want to learn plenty more languages on top of the three that I already know. I want to see the world and explore anything and everything!
I think that napping on the top of the Rotunda steps on a beautiful day is the best. The University is incredibly beautiful. Old architecture, new architecture, a lot of green, a lot of space, a lot of freedom. There's not much else I can ask for here.
Anyways, if you read on you’ll see how even more awesome I am, so I hope I’ll hear from you. Even if you just need a bedtime story, I will tell you one (except it’ll only be Brothers Grimm versions of fairytales). Feel free to shoot me an e-mail, I’ll answer anything!
Go Hoos!