Thursday, July 12, 2012

Charlottesville: A University Community

One thing that really didn’t hit me until I made my college decision was how important the community around the university is. When you think about it, this college, this new destination, is going to be the place where you live for four years of your undergraduate life. Hey everybody, my name is Keith Wilson, and I am a rising second year from Louisville, Kentucky. While at The University of Virginia, I will be studying Music, and am looking forward to applying to The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to tell y’all about, I knew that one of most hidden wonders about UVA is how incredible the Charlottesville community is.

One of the best aspects about UVA is that everything happens so close to central grounds. Charlottesville is an unbelievable town with some really cool facets. Let’s start with what’s closest, what’s most active, and where all the students walk to for some good eats- The Corner. Now don’t be confused, The Corner isn’t just one establishment, it is a whole row of them. With so many choices, students always find new places to call their favorite. I can remember coming to UVa for the first time and having a student vehemently tell me to get the Chipotle Chicken Sub at Little John’s New York Deli. 

The ever-famous "Little John's"

I still go back to that first meal on the corner and think if it became a big factor in making my final decision. It wasn’t because the meal was so good, trust me Little John’s is the best, but it was the fact that all of the students that walked along the corner all seemed to be so full of life. Charlottesville, as a university community, is so welcoming to the students. With such open arms, students really do feel as if the corner and the near off grounds area is just like walking around grounds. Big groups will grab the window table at the Virginian, friends will meet at Para Coffee, dozens of hot pretzels will be ordered at Mellow Mushroom, hundreds will compete to get the #1 ticket at bodo’s, and thousands of Marco and Luca dumplings will be served. The corner is an incredible environment that allows students to grab Sunday brunch, a quick snack in the middle of the day, or a great place to spend a Friday night. The best thing is that it is so close to central grounds. How close? Let me put this in prospective for you. If Tiger Woods were to tee up on the lawn steps of the rotunda and hit his record long drive (425 yards), he would out shoot the corner by over 100 yards.

A view of "The Corner"

But the fun doesn’t stop just 300 yards away. One of my favorite things about Charlottesville is the downtown mall. According to the city of Charlottesville website “The Historic Downtown Mall is considered one of the finest urban parks in the country.  This pedestrian mall is home to a vibrant collection of more than 120 shops and 30 restaurants located in the historic buildings on and around old Main Street Charlottesville.” The downtown mall is truly like walking down a piece of history. When you look on both sides you see the façade of historic “Main Street”. When you walk into each establishment, they all have their own unique feel. The downtown mall is very particular about not allowing chain restaurants dominate the area. Supposedly a Starbucks has tried for years to land on the mall, but with no success. Some of my favorite places include Café Cubano, Chaps Ice Cream, and the famous Timberlake’s Drug Store. Timberlake’s is home to a completely original soda fountain and diner, a very cool spot. 

A walk down the downtown mall.

The downtown mall, as stated above, is also home to some really cool shopping. The used bookstores are elegant and affordable, the little fashion boutiques are quirky, and the antique stores are like stepping back in time. Above all, my favorite thing about the downtown mall is the opportunity to find some of the best performing arts around. The Jefferson Theatre, Paramount, and Live Arts all provide some great opportunities to see some live shows. Funny enough, I find myself embarking on a run of the Broadway Musical “Hairspray” with Live Arts. We open tomorrow night! I cannot wait to hit the stage, belt out the high notes for “It Takes Two” and “Without Love”, it really will be great. 
 Students having a snowball fight in front of "The Jefferson Theater"

The Live Arts Theater

I have spent countless nights on the downtown mall going to concerts, musicals, plays, and just sitting in Mudhouse drinking coffee. It is truly an awesome place to go explore. The University of Virginia offers free trolley rides to the downtown mall for students. With an Iphone and Android app that tells you exactly when the bus is coming through GPS technology, getting to the Downtown Mall is very accessible.

Many day trips can be made around the Charlottesville Area. People love picking apples on Carter Mountain, jumping into the blue water at the local quarry, hiking, biking, and sightseeing. When it comes down to it, Charlottesville is a great place to spend your four years as an undergraduate student. One of the many great questions you could ask a UVA student is “What is your favorite thing to do in CVille?” You will be amazed on how many different answers you will get. Come visit CVILLE! It’s truly a perfect college town.

Keith '15

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