Friday, January 29, 2010

First Year Seminar

A new semester is an exciting time. Classes are different. Weather is different. Activities are different. This semester, I am serving as a facilitator for First Year Seminar (FYS), a series of seminars designed to help first-years make the most of their time at UVa. After getting adjusted to college life in their first semester, FYS aims to provide the tools and advice to make the remaining 7 semesters as enjoyable, rewarding, and gratifying as possible. FYS is a completely voluntary program but students who participate walk away from it with so much. First, the groups (10-15 first-years) are led by 3 facilitators who are upperclassmen that are some of the most amazing students you will meet at UVa. We serve as an incredible resource for the first-years during and after the program for any questions regarding classes, majors, activities, life and such. Secondly, each week (5 total) we discuss a different topic ranging from identity awareness and personal accountability to building relationships at UVa whether it be with faculty or even other students. The program ends with a panel of fourth-years who share their highs and lows as well as some tips and tricks to make the best of your time at UVa. FYS meets in the football stadium's, Scott Stadium, suite boxes which truly makes this a unique experience as the only people allowed in these are those who shell out thousands of dollars for tickets or students who are interviewing for jobs. To top it off, those students who come to all 5 sessions receive a free t-shirt as a keepsake of their experience! Watch our recruiting video "Party in the FYS" to learn more about FYS:

Thus, FYS is another way that UVa works to ensure that first-year students are able to take advantage of the many opportunities that it has to offer.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fourth Year Fun

I am in my last year at this University and life is getting bittersweet. On the one hand I'm ready to graduate and move on to other pastures (greener or not) but on the other hand I am beginning to understand that there are only a few weeks left of my college life. There is so much offered at this University (for free, many times!!) and there is not enough time to do it all. I do want to share, however, a few of my favorite things to do here that everyone should partake in before graduation. You will no doubt get the "__ Things to do Before You Graduate" but sometimes they miss out so just to highlight some things:

1. Go to a concert. They host symphonies, percussion ensembles, jazz groups, singing groups, visiting artists, and so much more! The tickets are many times free for students and the highest prices I've seen/paid has been $15 for really rare concerts but they rarely cost that much. The location is unbeatable: Old Cabell Hall! And the musical programs are a great opportunity to learn about famous composers. They are sometimes also accompanied by a one hour lecture on the artist, group, or instrument(s) hosted earlier in the week. Living in an age where almost everything is accessible on the Internet, we sometimes forget the joy of being in a concert hall and enjoying some Bach or Mendelssohn. Don't take this for granted because if you go to a concert hall in DC or Boston, you will pay upwards of $50 per person to hear the same piece.

2. Listen to a lecture. Yes, I know, you have class lectures. This is not what I am talking about. The real gem of a large university (or any university) is that they attract great speakers, from international diplomats to famous anthropologists to published authors. Unless you know these people personally, there is no place else where you can listen to them live, for free, and with time to ask questions. Have you met the ambassador from Bangladesh? What about the prime minister of Norway? Any famous, published authors? Well, neither have I, not until I heard of them coming to UVa to describe their work and decided to attend their lecture in the Rotunda Dome Room. Don't miss your chance to be in the company of some great men and women!

3. Watch a movie. Do you remember when movie tickets cost $3? Neither do I. The lowest price I remember is $5 for a child. Now, if you go to Newcomb, you can catch some of the newest releases for $3! Sure, you can get it from the RedBox at Harris Teeter for $1 in 6 months but do you really want to wait that long? And hear people talking about it? And, God forbid, have someone spoil the ending for you? There you go, right into the Newcomb basement where a full-size auditorium awaits your presense.

4. Take a walk. Yes, you've been to the Rotunda. And the Lawn. Good job! You're a regular tourist now. Here's a question: have you been in the small garden in the medical complex? What about the grassy spot behind that strange looking arch across Emmet St from Newcomb? And where's that elusive Aschool, again? Unless you take the time to explore the Grounds, you won't know how much space there is and how many cool little corners there are. Enjoy your life here! It's not just about classes. It's also about seeing things, learning of new places, exploring the land. Awaken that spirit inside and discover something new for yourself!

That's all for now. Go find some things to do for yourself that you enjoy, even if no one else wants to join you on your endeavor to see more of the place you call home for four years.