Ten Things about Cville in NYC
This summer I spent 10 weeks interning in New York City at a magazine. While I was living in the city that never sleeps, I was almost never homesick for my actual home in Fairfax — sorry Mom — yet often I found myself ill with what I self-diagnosed as “Charlottesville-sick.” I longed for the crossroads of Wertland and 14th Street surrounded by familiar faces and places. It’s cliché but true: Sometimes you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone.
Although I always claimed to understand how great this college town is, I never really understood until I went to a place where most people associate 14th Street with the Union Square subway station. While I was away, I learned not only about New York, the magazine industry, and myself; I also learned a lot about Charlottesville. So without further ado, I give you the top 10 things I learned about Charlottesville while living in New York City:
1. People in Charlottesville do not think it’s extra cute or look at you funny when you say “y’all.” Every day around 5:15 p.m., I would say to everyone in my cubicle pod, “Have a great evening, y’all!” And every day my colleagues would comment on how adorable my Southern accent is. I’m not even that Southern, I would think to myself — I’m from Northern Virginia! Other times when I said “y’all,” I got the inevitable comment, “You’re not from around here, are you? Where are you from?” I couldn’t even say I was from NOVA, because they would think Villanova.
2. In Charlottesville, colored clothing, especially of the pastel or neon variety, is preferred to black clothing. I never realized how much residents of this town love color until all I saw were people wearing black and neutrals day in and day out. One of my coworkers in New York wore color once during my entire internship. A true New Yorker, she wore black every other day.
3. The frat boys, preps, and sorority girls found in high numbers in Charlottesville are an extinct breed on the island of Manhattan, where hipsters are as ubiquitous as falafel carts and Mister Softee ice cream trucks.
4. Even though Rugby Road and the Corner sometimes seem so far away from each other, everything around Grounds is surprisingly close. If this were New York City, no one would be driving from their apartment on 14th Street to the AFC. You would be walking instead. A 20-minute walk is actually not that far, I learned in New York. A 40-minute walk isn’t that bad either.
5. College bars on the Corner are a great place to be when you’re 21. After exploring Manhattan’s nightlife, which definitely had its ups, I realized one thing I dislike about “real-world” bars is that it’s harder to tell who is sketchy. You also have no idea how old anyone is.
6. Charlottesville has an extremely high population of runners. I walked home from work almost every day this summer, and I also walk home from class almost every day of the school year. What’s different between the two commutes — besides the scenery — is that in Charlottesville runners constantly pass me. Sure, in New York businessmen passed me on cell phones practically running, but no one was out on the streets for a casual jog.
7. It’s sometimes hard to remember the general public actually knows a lot about U.Va. and its prestigious reputation. Sometimes when you’re in the U.Va. bubble surrounded by people as smart or smarter than you, it’s hard to remember that we’re at one of the best institutions of higher education in the world — and people in the “real world” recognize that.
8. Charlottesville has a great restaurant scene. A lot of my intern friends go to school in towns where they spent their Friday nights eating at T.G.I. Fridays and their Sunday morning brunches at an IHOP. When we would try new restaurants in New York, it would be a novelty to them. I have been on a Charlottesville restaurant crawl ever since second year, but never realized how unusual it is for a town of this size to have so many locally owned and delicious restaurants.
9. People here actually eat home-cooked meals… and it’s not special when they do. In Manhattan you can only buy as many groceries as you can carry, so people don’t shop for a whole week at a time like they do here. Shopping carts are even smaller to better accommodate shoppers’ needs. Yet most people I talked to almost never set foot inside a grocery store to buy anything other than breakfast food. Grabbing one of the many take-out options on the way home from work is the norm. My coworkers almost never cooked for dinner. When they did, they snapped pictures on their iPhones and showed off their creations at work the next day. I’ve been in Charlottesville for a week now, and I’ve only been out for dinner once.
10. There is no better bagel in the world than one from Bodo’s. I tried over 15 bagel places in New York City — the place that practically made the bagel famous. They all pale in comparison to those delectable $0.70 bagels I crave from Bodo’s. As I was complaining one day on the subway about the lack of good bagels in New York City to my friend and fellow U.Va. student, a random commuter interjected into our conversation with the statement, “Bodos is definitely a legendary place,” followed by a “Wa-hoo-wa.”
I couldn’t agree more.