Monday, August 27, 2018

A Reflection on Summer's End

Image result for sunset charlottesville

Loyal readers of Hoo Stories,

I write to you this afternoon with a heavy heart. The summer draws close to an end, and in a few short hours our time in the Peabody basement will be over. 

I hope that over the last few months these posts have provided some insight into the wonderful world of UVA student life. If you still have questions, feel free to email me at or any other of our interns (emails found in past posts).

Summer is a special time. Things simultaneously slow down (long evenings on porches spent listening to cicadas) and speed up (May to August slipped by like getting lost in a good book). A time of reflection and preparation for the year ahead; a time of thinking about nothing at all. 

I hope that this summer has been good to you, and that you've been good to it. As the academic year begins, hold on to that summer spirit: the sensation of a sunbeam warming up friend's faces into an orange glow, the cool hug of lake water on a hot day, the wink of a firefly. Let these moments guide you, give you an anchor amid the flurry of back-to-school activities, and perhaps raise you higher, a relaxing memory acting like the spool of string of a kite, letting you out further into the great blue above.

Only a summer's breeze away,

Forever yours,

Zach & the 2018 Summer Admissions Interns

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How to Get Home On Breaks

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Getting Home on Breaks
Tips for when home is a long ways away, by Brynna G.
    UVA has become my home in many ways, but it can never replace the home that I grew up in with
my family. As fun and challenging as the school year can be, it can also call for a break every now and
again. There are several breaks throughout the academic year that are a great time to go back home,
whether you’re from down the street or overseas. These breaks include:

Fall Break: This falls approximately 5 weeks after the first week of classes, typically the last
weekend of September or the first weekend of October. Classified as “reading days”, students will
have a designated Saturday-Tuesday to themselves.

Thanksgiving Break: Students do not have classes the Wednesday-Friday the week of
Thanksgiving, and most go home Tuesday evening-Sunday.

Winter Break: Classes for the fall semester end the first week of December. Finals week follows and
students can head home as soon as they complete their last final. There is an optional January term where
students can take a course over 2 weeks in January, or you can take the entirety of the month to rest
before spring semester.

Spring Break: Halfway through the spring semester (typically 7 weeks), students are given a week off
of classes.

Summer Break: Spring semester classes wrap up the first week of May and are followed by finals.
After finishing your last final you can go home for the summer!
    While students don’t have to go home for every break if they don’t want to, it’s nice to have the option.
For first year students who can’t have cars on grounds and out-of-state students, this can be a bit trickier.
I myself am an out of state student who has to travel a good ways without access to a car in order to
subdue that occasional homesickness. I’ve utilized almost every medium available to get home over the
course of my first year, and here’s some tips I picked up along the way:

Automobiles: Find a Carpool
    If home is within a reasonable driving distance, finding a carpool is an easy and affordable option.
There’s a great Facebook page called “Hoo’s Riding? Hoo’s Driving?” (get it?). You can post that you’re
looking for a ride to a certain destination and an upperclassman headed to the same place will almost
always offer you an empty seat in their car. This is a well-utilized Facebook page that a lot of students
use to get home. I used this page to get home over fall break my first year. As I joined clubs and met
more people on grounds, I have been able to find carpools without this Facebook page. UVA students
are more than willing to help out their friends without cars if you just ask.
    For in-state students, UVA has a program called “Home Ride” that takes students to popular locations
like Northern Virginia and Richmond for a small fee. It runs most weekends, as well as over breaks.
Train: The Amtrak Station Downtown
    University Avenue is home to the Corner (see Jordan’s article on eating off-grounds). This street
runs right through the heart of grounds. It eventually turns into W. Main Street, where the Amtrak Train
Station is located. Only about a half mile off of grounds, students can walk there easily or take the free
Charlottesville Area Trolley (CAT) that makes stops around grounds. You can go anywhere that Amtrak
will take you. This is one of my favorite ways to get home because it’s easy to buy a ticket online,
requires little planning, and is an easy ride home with WiFi and comfy seats.
The Charlottesville Amtrak Station in all its glory. Is it just me, or can you also hear the deafening roar of the
Northeast Regional Rail?

Plane: The Charlottesville Albemarle Airport
    Ok, so this is the one way home I haven’t tried. But I have a lot of friends who use this airport to fly
home, whether they live in New York, Florida, or Montana. You can catch the CAT to the airport, catch
a ride with friends, or uber there if necessary. Many of my friends who live in New York and Florida find
this not only a shorter trip than a train, but also cheaper because of how far they have to travel.

    Regardless of how you get there, being home with friends and family is always a nice retreat away
from the hustle and bustle of dear ole UVA. Enjoy holidays and breaks, and know that your
home-away-from-home in Charlottesville will be there when you get back.

Enjoy the rest of your summer lil hoos!


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Why Old Dorms are the Best Dorms

Well, hello blog readers! My name is Grace and I’m a ~special guest~ this week courtesy
of my friend Brynna. I’m here to talk about why OLD Dorms are definitely the best dorms on
grounds. “Old Dorms” are located on McCormick Road, right across from the Chemistry
Building and Gilmer Hall. There are ten old dorms (some are connected making only six
actual buildings), but this year four of those will be under construction. For those of you living
in Bonnycastle, Kent, or Dabney, congratulations. YOU are getting the best of both worlds
(great interiors AND great location) and, therefore, this article may be a bit less relevant. I
lived in the magnificent building of Hancock which is still standing in its original state along
with Metcalf and Lefevre. These three buildings will be renovated during the 2019-2020 school
year so to all incoming residents, cherish your time as the LAST students ever to live in the
hallowed halls of true “old dorms”. Alright, enough with the context let’s get to what you all
came for:

  1. They’ve got character
Yes, this may have been the only positive descriptor my mom could think of the day she
moved me in, but it’s honestly so true. So many people have lived in these exact same
buildings through the years, and it’s a unique tradition to feel a part of. In my last week of
school, a woman who lived in my room in 1985 came to visit with her kids! So cool! Also,
my dad lived in the building next door (Bonnycastle) when he was at UVA (class of ‘90).
Living just like he did gave us a really unique experience to share, even though we’re 30
years apart.

A beautifully labeled image of the 10 old dorms. The front four, Echols, Humphreys, Emmett, and Page will
be closed this year. Last year, Bonnycastle, Dabney, and Kent were renovated. Lefevre, Metcalf, and Hancock
remain the last of the true Old Dorms. Photo courtesy of Housing and Residence Life.

  1. Open Windows
So this may start as a fix for the lack of air conditioning, but it’s so nice! I loved feeling the
outside breeze when the wind was blowing, hearing the rain at night, practically feeling the
snow fall, etc. Rooms rarely get stuffy or stale because fans are continuously blowing fresh
air in and out (PRO TIP: face one fan out and one fan in and it creates a beautiful natural air
circulation system). Also, it was fun to be able to hear all of the fun things happening in the
old dorms quad. Dorm sing by one of the acapella groups? Huge game of frisbee? Friends
leaving without us as we scramble to get ready? All can be heard through the beautifully
screened windows of old dorms.
An incredibly awkward photo of me (right) and my roommate-turned-best-friend, Elizabeth, on move-in day
feat. our open window

  1. Location, Location Location
This goes without saying: old dorms have BY FAR the best location of any student housing
on grounds (except for Brown College and The Lawn). For reference, last semester I had a
9am lecture in Ruffner Hall (home of the Curry school) and I left my dorm no later than 8:55
every Monday and Wednesday and always arrived early. Crazy stuff.

Read it and weep, New Dorms (and Gooch/Dillard). Photo Courtesy of Maps.

  1. The Castle
I didn’t have this last year because it was under construction but I’ve visited it this summer
and it looks AMAZING! It’ll be so nice to have food right outside of your door instead of having
to walk to OHill, Newcomb, or Crossroads (lovingly known as Croads).

Latest rendering of the soon-to-be Castle in the basement of Bonnycastle (peep Dabney in the background).
Photo courtesy of Facilities Management.

  1. Stairs!
Okay this doesn’t sound great, but hear me out. I was on the third floor of my building
(Hancock 3R let’s gooooo) and my legs/booty were DEFINITELY feeling (and looking better
because of) the work. Don’t have time to get to the gym? No worries! Just climb up to your

Couldn’t find a picture of stairs so here’s a picture of my Hancock friends at our first football game!
My head is the one cut off in the back oops.

  1. Fun stories
From hidden objects in the ceiling tiles of First Left to the leftover urinals on girls’ floors from
pre-coeducation to other myths and legends about past residents, the “character” of these
buildings leads to some great stories. With 70 classes of first-year UVA students passing
through these dorms, you know there will be some fun mementos and reminders left behind.

  1. ~Social~ ~Atmosphere~
Something about being in closer quarters with shared bathrooms (with your WHOLE floor,
not just your hall) and the sometimes odd conditions of old dorms forges some incredible
friendships. Maybe it’s that you can’t get out of the building without walking through every floor?
Maybe it’s that if one room is blasting music you can pretty much hear it everywhere else?
Maybe it’s that few people lock their door after the first week of classes (I mean the doors are
locked with a physical key… almost nobody keeps up with it after a few days)? Or maybe it’s
just because they specially place the cool kids in old dorms (eat it Brynna), but some of my
best friends during first year (and now into second year) are Hancock residents (Boolcock
forever, baby).

Some of my best friends from this year, most of whom lived in my dorm <3

Like every other UVA student, I will always be fiercely loyal to my first-year dorm. If anybody
reading this is lucky enough to live in Hancock, I salute you and hope our paths cross sometime
this year. No matter where you end up living your first year, though, the dorm experience is
guaranteed to bring you new friends, crazy stories, and an appreciation for privacy. If you have
any questions about old dorms, want to unsuccessfully convince me that new dorms are better,
or just want to chat, you can email me at As Brynna so eloquently wrote,
People make a place a home, and for that reason you will always have a home in your first year dorm.”

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Why New Dorms Are the Best Dorms

    Hello devoted Hoo Stories readers! It’s Brynna today and this post is all about why NEW dorms
are the BEST dorms.
    For context, “New Dorms” are the first year residence halls located on Alderman Road. These
nine hall-style dorms were constructed between 2008 and 2015, making them the newest dorms on
grounds (hence the name). While every first year dorm experience comes with both advantages and
disadvantages, by the end of first year every student has a fierce allegiance to their particular dorm.
I am no exception, and as a former New Dorms resident (Balz Dobie 4L 4Life) I have been itching
at the chance to brag about my former home.

Some of my hallmates and I in front of the New Dorms area on Alderman Road.

So without further ado, I present to you all the reasons why:
NEW Dorms are the BEST Dorms

  1. They are BRAND new
Practically sparkling. They were built with modern technology, design, and lifestyles in mind.
There are so many outlets, lots of natural light, high ceilings, new furniture, lights that automatically
turn on and off in common areas, and brand new bathrooms.
Balz-Dobie, my former “New Dorms” home. Photo courtesy of Housing and Residence Life.

2. Air Conditioning
All of these dorms are air conditioned, which is nice especially for the first few and last few weeks
of the academic year. Move-in day in August seems to always be the hottest day of the year, and my
roommate (pictured below) and I felt lucky to move our things into a cool building instead of a hot,
sticky one. My dorm also had options to adjust the temperature in each room, from “warmer” to
“cooler”, allowing you to adjust the AC or the heat according to your individual living style.
My roommate, Jane, and I in our air-conditioned room on move-in day (August 2017). This is my bed, which I partially
lofted to fit all of my belongings underneath. I was able to fit way more than I had anticipated in my dorm room and had
space for everything I needed.

3. Lounges and Study Rooms
The lounges and study rooms on each of the six floors of my building were some of my favorite
parts of living in New Dorms. The lounges had TVs we could plug our laptops into to watch Netflix,
and lots of couches for hanging out with friends. The study rooms had white boards, desks, desk chairs,
and armchairs. Personally, I never studied at the desk provided for me in my dorm room. While it can
be fun to study in libraries around grounds, it was extremely convenient to have other study spaces
within the comfort of my home. Especially in the winter when the walk back from the library at night
can be pretty chilly, these study rooms came in handy.

A lounge (left) and a study room (right) in my dorm. Photos courtesy of Housing and Residence Life.

4. Laundry Rooms
Every new dorm has its own laundry room, so you never have to go far to do your laundry. There are
approximately 10 washing machines and 10 dryers with multiple settings (delicates, colors, whites, etc.).
You might not be thinking about laundry yet, but I promise that you’ll be grateful for your New Dorm
laundry room when it’s raining, cold, or late and you just can’t put off doing your laundry any longer.

My hallmates Stephanie and Edie in the Balz-Dobie laundry room. They prove that laundry rooms can double as a fantastic
photo backdrop (who knew?).

5. The Kitchenette
The first floor of every New Dorm has a small kitchen area, or a kitchenette. There’s an oven, stove,
sink, counter space, and a refrigerator. All first year students have unlimited meal plans, so this kitchen
is not really used for cooking daily meals. However, this space is awesome for baking cookies, heating
up leftovers, or storing ice cream in a freezer.
Ja’Mel lived in my dorm building first year and loved to bake. He and my hallmate, Marisa, baked cookies, cupcakes,
and cinnamon rolls pretty regularly. Good for me because they always shared :)

6. The View
New Dorms are typically 6 stories tall (don’t worry, there’s elevators). This means that the view from
your lounge and sometimes even your dorm room is pretty phenomenal. Check out some pictures that
students have taken from their respective New Dorm.

The view from Lile-Maupin dorm. Photo courtesy of Biogrounds.
The view from Kellogg Dorm. Photo courtesy of Felix Park and UVA Arts.

7. The People
While dorms can simply be a place where you live, they also can be a great place to make friends.
I am an out of state student and before moving in last August I did not know a single person at UVA.
But yet, I remember feeling like I had found a community from the very first weekend here. I have my
dorm to thank for that. Many of my hallmates quickly became my best friends, my entire hall became
a community I could always fall back on, and my RA (resident advisor) became an advisor and friend

No matter which dorm or what type of dorm you end up living in your first year, you will meet people
who make the world a little brighter. People make a place a home, and for that reason you will always
have a home in your first year dorm.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Transfer Myths Busted

Questions I get all the time: What is it like being a transfer student? Was it hard leaving your first
school to come to UVA? Why did you transfer to UVA?

Never fear, curious world- I am here to answer any and all questions about the UVA transfer experience!
I want to begin by saying that everyone’s transfer story is incredibly different; people transfer schools
for a plethora of different reasons and they have varying experiences with adjustment and integration.
I will touch on these experiences while also sharing my own transfer journey with you all and I will be
doing so through the method of myth-busting. Let’s bust some transfer students myths!

Myth #1: Transferring colleges is an uncommon occurrence, making it difficult to transition from
one school to another.

Though transferring may not sound like a familiar phenomenon when you’re in high school,
according to the Princeton Review website, about one-third of all college students transfer
schools every year. UVA is a prime example of the commonality of transferring; we have a very
large transfer community here. In fact, transfer students take up about 4% of the undergraduate
student population and has a vibrant presence in our clubs and organizations. This made my
transfer process much easier, since I had a lot of people who could relate to my experience and
could join organizations that worked to further enhance the transfer experience.

Myth #2: Transfer students are at a disadvantage socially because they didn’t get to live in
first-year dorms and forge meaningful friendships in their first year.

It is true that the first community you find in college is typically through a dorm or aspect of residence
life during your first year. This is especially true at UVA, where the first-years live in a concentrated
area of grounds and create great cammarderies in their living spaces. Choosing to live off-grounds as
a transfer student definitely made me nervous, since I knew I would not have this community to fall
back on. However, I quickly realized that getting involved in the numerous close-knit organizations
available on grounds will help you to find your “people” just as much as a dorm would. Though I felt
like I missed out on something in the first few months here, as soon as I joined CIOs that I was
passionate about, I caught up socially with everyone else pretty quickly. Now I feel like I have as
great a college family as anyone who lived in dorms. Depend on those CIOs, they won’t let you down!

Myth #3: Transferring makes graduating in four years difficult/impossible.

Perhaps at other schools, but not here! UVA’s four-year graduation rate is 87%, much higher than the
national average and this includes transfer students. Credits easily transfer to UVA from other schools
 and the administration is well-versed in the transfer credit process. I know I will be able to graduate
in four years and every other transfer I know will as well. This is not to say that there won’t be
occasional case-by-case situations but overall, graduating in four years is still the norm for UVA
transfer students.

Myth #4: Transfer students can’t study abroad.

Wrong! They absolutely can. Our International Studies Office does a great job at making study
abroad opportunities accessible to all students, especially transfer students. Our UVA direct credit
programs let students go abroad with UVA faculty and take UVA classes, so transfer students don’t
have to worry about the headache that is more transfer credit. Those classes taken abroad will go
directly onto your transcript and into your GPA. However, if you are ever worried about not fitting
in your credits and study abroad in four years, you can go during the summer or during a January term.

Myth #5: It is more difficult to join CIOs (clubs) at UVA when you are a transfer student.

Overall, I had a very easy time joining CIOs as a second-year. But that is not to say there aren’t a
select few organizations that try to recruit mainly first-years. These, however, will be a small majority.
I even joined a student-run theatre organization called First Year Players even though (if you can’t tell
by the name) they cater mostly to first-year students. Most organizations with this type of mentality
usually have an exception for transfer students. This turned out to be very beneficial for me because
I made lots of first year friends who were going through similar adjustment periods like myself.
Don’t worry too much about this though; a majority of CIOs will see transfer students as a valuable
voice in their organization.

Myth #6: Integrating into the UVA social life will be difficult because there is a negative stigma
about transfer students on grounds.

This one was probably the biggest misconception I had about the transfer experience. Terrified I would
be judged for being a transfer, I was very careful about who I told in my first few months. But I quickly
realized that this trepidation was completely unnecessary. Instead of being stigmatized, I found that many
people were impressed with my decision to transfer, noting that is takes a lot of drive and initiative to
do so. I felt that I was warmly welcomed into the Wahoo community and I promise that you will too!

Well future Hoos, I hope these mythbusters were informative and helpful. If you have any questions
about the transfer experience, feel free to reach out to me at ! Good luck and
go Hoos!