Top 10 things to look forward to in your first-year at U.Va.

Your first look at the ins and outs of college life

1. The history

The University has a pretty interesting story to tell if you take the time to listen. We’re the only college in America to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Edgar Allen Poe, Katie Couric and Tina Fey all attended. When the Rotunda caught fire in 1895, a University professor added dynamite to the flames in an attempt to stop the fire from reaching the main dome, instead causing it to spread even more rapidly. These are just a few of the things you will learn in your time at the University, and you will have the chance to make history yourself.

2. (Almost all of) the sports

The University has championship-winning sports teams, and you can see all of them play for free. You may not get to see the football team win very often this year because Mendenhall is still a pretty new head coach, but it is fun to dress up and sing the Good Old Song for the few and far between touchdowns. If you get into basketball games early enough, you can sit in one of the first rows and feel like you’re part of Hoo Crew for the night. Or heck, join the Hoo Crew for longer than just a night. Klockner Stadium is home to lacrosse and and soccer, and sometimes they give out free University gear or food. Attending at least one game is a mandatory part of your first year.

3. The traditions

Us Wahoos have some serious traditions and some not so serious ones that are a big part of the culture in Charlottesville. I’ll give you a quick run down of the do’s and don’t’s. Do: use the terms first-year, second-year and so on instead of freshman and sophomore. Don’t: skip fun events like Lighting of the Lawn or trick-or-treating on the Lawn. Do: refer to the University as Grounds instead of campus. Don’t: streak the Lawn completely trashed or you may end up with scraped knees, or even worse, some broken bones.

4. The food

Now I’m not talking about the dining halls because some (most) days those leave a lot to be desired. Take advantage of the meal exchange and plus dollars to supplement your daily dose of dining hall grub. Craving a late night snack? Head over to Crossroads aka ‘Croads for classic tenders and fries from Grille Works or a burrito bowl from Burrito Theory. West Range Café has amazing grilled cheese and salads as meal exchange options. We also have a Starbucks and not one, but two Greenberry’s Coffee Co.s and all three take plus dollars.

5. The camaraderie

There’s no feeling like singing The Good Old Song at your first orientation, after a touchdown or during Lighting of the Lawn. You can physically sense the love everyone has for the University with your arms around strangers, a united front. You can almost always find someone with the same interests as you in such a big school, and you cultivate the environment you want to live in, so make it your own.

6. The clubs

The University has a ridiculous amount of Contracted Independent Organizations, Special Status Organizations, and Listservs for anything you may be interested in. 3D Printing Club? Got it. Dungeons and Dragons Club? Absolutely. A Listserv that emails you whenever the dining halls have tater tots? We even have that. You could even join an independently owned business, like the Cavalier Daily! I admit that was a shameless plug, but the point is, there’s always a group for you to call home.

7. Charlottesville

As a first year, it’s a bit of a process to get off grounds, but it’s definitely worth it if you can make it to the historic Downtown Mall. I highly recommend trying out the restaurants, which have all sorts of foods that seem like they shouldn’t go together but do. Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint offers mac and cheese on your burgers, Christian’s pizza covers pizza with tortellini, and Marco and Luca’s Noodle Shop just left their dumplings plain, but they’re still delicious. The Corner is also home to cute boutiques, restaurants and bars. Exploring also gives you the time to figure out the free trolley and University Transit System.

8. The exposure

As someone from a small town in Virginia, the University definitely opened my mind to a variety of viewpoints, and it’s affected others that way too, like fellow Life writer John Patterson. I like to think that others will also learn to respect the different ways people live and unite in the fact that we are all Wahoos, and we are all destined for greatness, but only if we build each other up instead of fighting over the differences.

9. The freedom

One of the greatest things about going to college is being able to do whatever the heck you want. During my first year, I took naps at least three days a week, and you can too! But with the freedom of college comes great responsibility, so make sure to get your homework done before doing your partying because you don’t want to be shotgunning a beer and suddenly remember a forum post was due at midnight. So use your power to be a good student, but go a little crazy too.

10. The opportunities and resources

If you have an idea, the University of Virginia is a great place to let it blossom and thrive. You can study abroad almost anywhere in the world. You can take a class on Disney movies. You can build solar cars and race them across the nation. Every day I learn of more opportunities and and discoveries and resources available to University students. Going to this University is basically setting yourself up for success and some of the best years of your life, so spend them wisely and get to know what your new home has to offer. 

related stories