Best locations for people watching on Grounds


Caroline Eastham is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

Often times I like to play a game with myself where I pretend I am going to do work, when in reality I am going to partake in one of my favorite pastimes of people watching. The game starts out with me lugging all of my study materials eternities away to the Corner, which is followed by me camping out in one of the large windows in 1515. I then pull out my computer or reading materials and start my tasks. So far, the game is fun and my disguise is believable. It truly appears that I am a studious member of the community getting stuff done and being productive. 

This deception comes to a screeching halt when I lock eyes with a familiar face and we exchange a smile and a friendly wave. I return to my work only to find myself in the same instance not 10 seconds later. 

Although the University is an extremely large school, the community is close-knit, and it is easy to get to know many people in a short amount of time. In this window in 1515, I find this statement to be truer than ever, and thus, it is here that I begin my list of the best places to people watch on Grounds. 

In my attempt to find the perfect study spot, I have found myself all over Grounds from “Club Clem” to the Graduate and everywhere in between. Therefore, I consider myself well-versed on all locations applicable to this list. One thing I have found undeniably true on this adventure is that the University is a gold-mine for people watching locations. 

The large windows and comfy seating make 1515 an obvious choice for my list. At any time of the day, I can be guaranteed optimum viewer satisfaction. This location receives high marks for its identity as a prime destination for puppy-gawking and tossing disgusted looks at dedicated runners that zoom by. A walk up and down the Corner will offer several other locations that provide similar viewing experiences, which vary depending on the time of day, the weather and the season. 

Starbucks and any of the other restaurants on the Corner will all get the job done if you’re looking for your more classic people-watching experience at the University. On a warm spring afternoon, you can feel the happiness exuding from each passerby as summer draws nearer with each passing minute. Around 11 on a Thursday night, the sights become more comical as students begin celebrating the end of a tough school week. 

The broad range of sights you can see on the Corner is what makes it so special and truly entertaining. It provides a well-rounded description of the life of a student at the University if you spend as much time at one of these suggested locations as I do. Therefore, the Corner, as a collective unit, earns itself a high spot on my list of the best places to people watch. 

Being a first year, I have formed a love-hate relationship with the bus system at the University. While it can be a major annoyance when the buses do not show up on schedule, overall their existence is majorly convenient. I have spent many early mornings on the scratchy blue seats of these buses, and I think it can be reasonably inferred that the vast majority of the student body shares a similar relationship with the bus system. 

These scratchy blue seats are next on my list of optimal people watching locations. This location provides an experience more catered to first years, local residents and workers in the Charlottesville area. Thus, the bus offers new sights to see that often relay a common sense of exhaustion and undesirable haste. 

The Corner is a more relaxed setting for people watching, whereas the bus often exudes stress from each of its passengers, which twisted as it seems, offers a comical viewer experience that I have come to enjoy. Instead of focusing on my own stress, I simply look around and imagine what others must be going through that has forced the uncomfortable looks on my peers’ faces. Here on the University bus, I am reminded of the pure and simple joy that people watching brings to my life. 

Rounding off the list is the Rotunda steps, a quintessential image of the University. This location is somewhat infamous for being a hangout spot for a certain few that can be found here late at night awaiting the arrival of those bold enough to mark streaking the Lawn off of their University bucket lists. However, during the day, the Rotunda steps can paint an almost unrealistically ideal image of what I imagined college life would be like. 

On a warm day, the Rotunda steps seem to act like a magnet, drawing hoards of students, families and dogs to the Lawn where a wide array of activities occur. While frisbee throwing and lounging on picnic blankets is less comical or entertaining than the people struggling to finish last-minute homework on the bus or stumbling down the Corner, sitting on the Rotunda steps never fails to fill me with inexplicable happiness and pride in attending the University. 

While my love for this spectator sport is a large part of my continued and purely unintentional procrastination, I cannot demote the pure entertainment value that people watching has. A large number of us have already watched “The Office” several times through by now, so my recommendation is to switch up your typical form of entertainment and go partake in some good old-fashioned people watching. 

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