Thursday, June 22, 2017

Charlottesville Food Scene--- Pt 2 Downtown

Hello prospective students, admitted students, parents, and alumni! Welcome to the second part of the Charlottesville food scene series!

The Downtown Mall

1. Citizen Burger Bar $$
Citizen Burger is the ultimate family restaurant. Not only is their food uh-mazing, but there is always something for everyone. Obviously I'd recommend a burger, particularly the ~classic~ Citizen Burger. Normally, though, I just build my own. Their ingredients are really fresh and high quality, basically you could put any combination of toppings on their burgers and it would probably taste good. Their fries though--- oh, their fries. Their fries are fantastic. Make sure you order a side of sweet potato with you burger, or else you'll surely miss out. 

2. Monsoon Siam $$
Do you like Thai food? Yes? Well, you'll love Monsoon Siam. Monsoon Siam is a fantastic, upscale Thai food restaurant with an equally amazing location. They're right off of the Downtown Mall, with beautiful outdoor seating and string lights galore. They have the classic Pad Thai, etc.-- but what I really recommend you try is the Hell Rice. Monsoon Siam does such a great job of making their Thai food spicy, but not so much that it hides the flavor of their food.

Miso Sweet is a super fun restaurant. Ramen and donuts are their specialties, what a cool combo of foods. Their ramen is not your cup o noodles, their ramen is gourmet and filling and delicious. Such a cool twist on traditional ramen that will surely leave you wanting more. They have pork, beef, chicken, vegetarian-- again, something for everyone. The meat is tender, the eggs runny, and the noodles are simply perfect. Totally recommend it, especially if you're looking for an insta-worthy meal.

4. Mono Loco $$
Mono loco is life-changing. Their food is amazing, but what really struck me when I ate their were their chips. Their chips are made by them and they have corn tortilla chips which are average, but their flour chips are out of this world. The experience of eating those chips has brought me back to their restaurant multiple times- it's like dipping a pastry of some sort in to salsa and guac. Sounds weird but trust me, it works. Their food is also great but if you're looking for a snack this is also a great option. Chips does cost 5$, and their guac is an extra 5, but it's so worth it.

5. Miller's $$
Two of my favorite meals: bratwurst and Waldorf salads. Two meals that Miller's does best: bratwurst and Waldorf salads. Two completely unrelated foods but if you go here please try one of them- because Miller's does such a great job of preparing these two food items. Granted, there are more things on their menu that are super amazing- these just happen to be my favorites! Miller's is a great place for a beer on a summer night (if you're 21), or just to hang out with your pals. It's the closest thing to a "sitcom" pub (read: Paddy's, MacLaren's, etc.) that we have here in Charlottesville. It's good, it's a local spot, and it's casual. They also have live music! Bonus!

6. The Pie Chest $
Who doesn't love pie? I love pie! So much! And the pie chest is the ~place~ for pies in CVille. Their pies are so amazing, ranging from normal sweet pies to savory handpies and pot pies. My favorite is the coconut creme, but the chocolate is also fantastic. Every item on the menu has the classic, Made By Grandma taste to it that is so hard to achieve on your own. I love the pie chest and so should you.

Friday, June 16, 2017

UVA Lawn Traditions

You enter your First Year here just as Mr. Jefferson, or as I like to call him, TJ, would have wanted. Sitting on the lawn, facing the North with our beautiful Rotunda in the background. This event is magical for many reasons. You are sitting with all of your peers in Class of 20something, you’re all in the same position, and you will be with them for the next four years. Looking around you’ll feel the excitement in the air, and see everyone dressed up and waiting for the ceremony to begin. The speakers aren’t the exciting part, with the exception of the speech from the Sevens. Just be in the moment and appreciate that this is the only time you will be with all these people in the same place until graduation!

Rotunda Sing:
I love Rotunda Sing- it’s such a fun afternoon on the Lawn. Basically, Rotunda Sing is an acapella concert right in front of the Rotunda. It takes place at the beginning of the school year, so it’s nice and warm out. There are lots of beautiful lights projected onto the Rotunda steps and it’s just a really chill night. This is also when the acapella groups advertise their audition times—so if you’re interested in joining a singing group, be sure to check it out!

Streaking the Lawn:
Streaking the Lawn is something that most students participate in, and all are encouraged to do before graduation. It is what it sounds like, you streak the Lawn! Here is a step-by-step run through: go to the Rotunda steps at night, remove clothing, run down steps and lawn, run around the Homer statue 3 times, kiss his bottom, sprint back up the Lawn to the Rotunda, walk up the steps and whisper “Goodnight, Mr. Jefferson” into the keyhole on the door, put clothes back on. It’s fun and liberating! 10/10 would recommend doing it.

Pancakes for Parkinson’s:
Pancakes for Parkinson’s is an event that was created 14 years ago at UVA as a fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation to benefit Parkinson’s research. It’s a really fun event with lots of delicious pancakes made by the volunteers. I volunteered last year and donated to support my grandfather who has Parkinson’s Disease. It was a really great way to get involved quickly and to support a cause that is in desperate need of more funding for research. The event is also really enjoyable and for all ages, so it does a great job of bringing UVA and the Charlottesville community together.  
(here's me flipping some pancakes! Vid credit to Catherine Cura)

Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn:
My favorite childhood tradition had always been dressing up in a fun costume and trick-or-treating around my neighborhood with my brother. At UVA we host a similar event on the Lawn where the Charlottesville community comes together with the UVA students to celebrate Halloween. At 7pm on the Friday on/before Halloween, the children in Charlottesville gather on the Lawn and make a line to trick-or-treat at all of the Lawn rooms. Many students dress up even if they aren't a Lawnie to hand out candy! It's efficient, it's adorable, and it's a heck of a lot of fun.

Lighting of the Lawn:
Lighting of the Lawn, or LOTL, is the most beautiful event UVA has to offer. It began in the wake of the September 11th attacks when everyone in America and at UVA were unsure of their place in the world. LOTL was created to bring together UVA and the Charlottesville community, in order to support each other and celebrate our bond. LOTL occurs in early December on the Thursday before exams begin. Lights are strung all along the Lawn Rooms, Pavilions, and the Rotunda beforehand, and don't turn on until 10pm. Before the lighting, there's an acapella concert, a countdown, and ~boom~ the lights are on. The lights are synced to the Top 50 hits and thousands of students party together until we tire ourselves out. It's such a wonderful and meaningful event that no student should miss. 

Snowball Fights:
As per tradition: when it snows a lot, people break out into snowball fights. On the midnight of a snowstorm at UVA, students run to the Lawn to partake in the largest snowball fight you'll ever see. It's overwhelming and awesome to see the snow whizzing through the air while hearing the laughs and battlecries of your peers. Though it doesn't happen every year due to Virginia's climate, when it happens it's incredible. Don't miss out like I did because you don't believe that the entire student body would show up to the Lawn at midnight, because you'll miss out in a ton of fun.

Spring Fest:
Spring Fest is a really chill event that UPC puts on in April. Basically it's an event on the Lawn with live music, food trucks, free stuff, and lots of great people. This past year we had student bands play as well as my favorite, Misterwives! They put on a great performance and the best part is that it was free! It's also so gorgeous in Virginia this time of year, so laying on the Lawn is the best thing you can do to enjoy your afternoon on a lovely Spring day.


Graduation is an event that, thankfully, I won't partake in for two more years. Graduation for your class happens, traditionally, on the Lawn just as Thomas Jefferson (TJ) would have wanted it. During Convocation we face the Rotunda, as we are facing our education. At Graduation we face Old Cabell Hall which is blocking the Blue Ridge Mountains. We face the mountains because that represents our life after college and was really symbolic and important to Jefferson. Another fun thing that we do is carry really fun balloons with us as we walk.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Let's Get Connected: Online Resources at UVa

It's no secret that UVa has a wealth of resources and opportunities available to students. But over the years, UVa students have joined together to create even more ways to get connected, such as Facebook groups, websites, and other online resources that help ease the stress of college life. Check out some of the most popular ones below:

Hoos Riding, Hoos Driving

A page for UVa students to find and share rides to different areas such as Richmond, Northern VA, and more. There are different groups depending on what region you're looking for, so make sure to use the correct one!

Free and for Sale

A page for UVa students to sell, buy, or give away (!!!) old furniture, clothes, and dorm supplies.

Housing, Sublets, and Roommates

A page for UVa students to share and find off-grounds apartments to lease or sublet during the school year and summer months.

UVA Student to Student Textbooks 

A page for UVa students to buy and sell textbooks (usually for cheap, depending on where you look).

Class Pages

Class pages are created each year for every incoming class and are used to share events and communicate with members of your graduating class. Be sure to check out Facebook and to find the link for your class page!

Be sure to follow UVa's official Snapchat account @univofvirginia, where UVa students take over and document/answer questions about their experiences!

Here's a list of some popular Instagram accounts related to all things UVa. Click on the links to check them out!

Official UVa Instagram: uva
Curry School of Education: uvacurry
Frank Batten School of Public Policy: uvabatten
McIntire School of Commerce: uvamcintire
College of Arts and Sciences: uvacollege
School of Engineering: uvaengineering
School of Architecture: aschool_uva
University Programs Council: uvaupc
UVa Office of Major Events: uva_events
UVa Men's Basketball: uvamenshoops
UVa Dining Services: uvadining
City of Charlottesville: charlottesvilleva
UVa Office of Orientation: uvaonsp
UVa Office of the Dean of Students: uvaodos

The Cavalier Daily

The website for one of our largest student-run, daily news organizations. Check out this site for all of your news around Grounds!

Course Forum

This site was created by UVa students to help schedule classes, rate professors, and more!

Lou's List

One of the most popular websites used by UVa students, Lou's List was created by UVa professor Lou Bloomfield and is used to help students search for classes. (Note: this site is NOT the official class registry, always check SIS to make sure your classes are correct!)

That's it for now; be sure to check out these resources when you arrive on Grounds - you won't be sorry!

Learning In Action: Service Opportunities at UVa

Trust me, I know that in high school “community service” seems daunting. It was always in the back of our minds as something that we probably should do but, like, do we really have to, with such busy schedules already?

But ever since coming to UVa as a first year student, I’ve found that one of my favorite things to be involved with at the university is actually volunteering and giving back to the Charlottesville community. I believe that this comes in large part from the number of CIOs and organizations that we have here that are dedicated to service and volunteer workorganizations that give back to the community, but also become a community in themselves.

For me, I found a home in Alpha Phi Omega, or APO, a co-ed service fraternity with chapters at many universities across the country. Collectively, at our UVa chapter, we complete over 3,000 hours of service each semester in Charlottesville and beyond. Much of this service is completed on Saturday mornings throughout the school year, when we volunteer for projects from building chicken coops to clearing trails to setting up cots and linens for temporary shelters. These projects gave me the opportunity to really step outside the ‘bubble’ that you may find yourself in on a college campus, and really explore and better understand the realities of the city that I now call my home.

While for me, I found my love for service at UVA within APO, others can also find the opportunities for service within many of the other university organizations. For example, Madison House is a student-run and student-led organization that encourages one to three hour volunteer shifts a week with any of its over 160 partner organizations in Charlottesville. Greek sororities and fraternities also put on a number of philanthropies to raise money for many different Charlottesville organizations and charities.

Madison House (photo courtesy of The Cavalier Daily)
For incoming students, there is also the chance to jump right into service with a program called Project SERVE, which is a part of First Year Orientation. This not only an occasion to meet other incoming first years, but also to get familiarized with local agencies and nonprofit organizations that often work with and rely on the commitment and passion of UVa students. Project SERVE participants spend an afternoon before the start of the fall semester working at food drives, elementary schools, community gardens, walking trails, or anywhere else within the Charlottesville community that’s in need of an extra hand. This year, Project SERVE will take place on Friday, August 25, from 2-6 p.m.

Past Project SERVE Participants (photo courtesy of
Beyond just first year, opportunities are always available to get involved in service. One of the key resources to find volunteering events and organizations in Charlottesville is Learning in Action, or "the front door to public service at the University of Virginia," designed to connect students, faculty, and community partners. Learning In Action can be found at, where students can sign up not only for annual volunteer events like Project SERVE and Pancakes for Parkinson's, which raised $63,000 last year to go towards Parkinson's research, but also for independent or repeating events throughout the year, such as the Charlottesville farmer's market every Saturday or the Game Day Challenge for recycling at football and basketball games. 

Whether it's cleaning up the river under Beta Bridge on Earth Day with university sustainability groups, growing plants with City Schoolyard Garden, or doing construction with Habitat for Humanity, there is always a chance to partner with organizations to connect the UVa experience with the greater Charlottesville community. Service is not only a great way to meet others and get involved, but is also an important aspect of doing your part to better the city that you call home as a University of Virginia student.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Carter Mountain

Summer sunsets, each one unique, paint the Thursday night sky each week at Carter Mountain Orchard. The sun dips below the Blue Ridge Mountains to the sound of a local band strumming away while students and locals devour peach soft serve. This is my favorite part of Charlotteville's summer.  Carter Mountain is a great way to break out of the UVA bubble during the school year and explore Albemarle County, and I encourage all of you to take advantage of it.

Carter Mountain has a lot to offer year-round. In the fall their orchards are filled with apples to snack on in your dorm and pumpkins to carve on Halloween. They're also home to the Prince Mountain Wine Shop and a Bold Rock Cider Cellar (for those of you who are over 21 😉 ). The orchard has a cute little shop that sells adorable knick-knacks, great foods (apple pies, donuts, and more..) and postcards for you to send home to your parents, friends, aunts and uncles-- so they know that you've left Grounds at least once during First Year.

September-October is their peak season according to their website, probably because the foliage is ~~~ b e a u t i f u l ~~~ that time of year. If you have a friend with a car or have a car yourself (v. unlikely for First Years), go ahead and pick a weekday to visit in order to avoid their weekend rush. This is a great place to take your visiting friends and family. If you're a New England kid like myself, it's also a nice spot to go to if you're missing the trees at home.

The Thursday Evening Sunset Series is my favorite part of Carter Mountain, though it mostly occurs over the summer. The concert series began this year on May 4th and will end on September 28th-- so make sure to catch it early this fall First Years!!! Each concert has a different vibe and musical style, ranging from classic rock to Bluegrass to Reggae... It's a lot of fun. The concert is free, but definitely splurge for their peach soft serve ice cream (it's still pretty cheap). One trip last fall I had three cones-- so worth it!

Try your best to go by the end of First Year, and definitely make a point to visit before you graduate!