The lies I tell my tourists


Whether you’re screaming along to your millionth addition of “Mr. Brightside” on Trin 3 or you’re watching the sunrise on Humpback Rock a couple hours later, you still get that feeling.

Caitlin Kreinheder | Cavalier Daily

As a newly minted member of the University Guide Service, I have a certain responsibility to tell prospective students the truth. The first truth is that most University students gagged on that pretentious first sentence, balking at the thought of another preachy humor article that blurs the line between an intricately-detailed cry for help and a capitalization on whatever rockin’ slang teens use these days. Anyway, as trumpeters of the world’s okayest sweatshirt, Guides are taught to be honest, to give students the unfiltered truth of the University experience. We have the right to speak freely without worry of censorship from the administration. They’d have to pay us to do that. So, I’m going to get real with you by telling you things you already know. Because isn’t that what art is? Just replicating common human experience through various creative media? Are you gagging yet?

I don’t really lie directly to my tourists. I’m not here trying to sneak extra people into U.Va. Don’t you think if I could reduce this undergraduate population, I would? I already can’t park my car or my butt in any open spaces on Grounds, so some of y’all need to take to the hills because I’ve had enough. I just feel obligated to conceal the problematic pimples that pop up on U.Va.’s pristine complexion from time to time, but like any real concealer, it’s still obvious they’re under there anyway. Please examine my lower chin for evidence. 

“I’d like to think people at U.Va. don’t succumb to any silly social norms.”

I’ll make a list: 

  1. Always sit one seat away. That’s the rule of the lecture hall. If you don’t know someone, leave a buffer. It’s polite, it’s comfortable — don’t get offended, because it’s not personal. 
  2. If you see a friend on the way to class, train your gaze so that at the last second you make eye contact, say hello and slip past without any open space for conversation. 
  3. Show up at least 30 minutes late to any party — scroll through your phone at home while you wait for an arrival time that will imply you had other plans. If you’re planning the party, dupe those fools into coming on time by scheduling it 30 minutes earlier than planned. Works like a charm. 

“The University doesn’t have any particular unofficial dress code.”

Au contraire. I would refer you to any Anthropologie or L.L. Bean catalog, but odds are you’re already rocking their fall collection. Now to be fair, as far as colleges go, we’ve got a decent variety of style. I visited Auburn University over fall break, and it’s just little loaves of Wonder Bread shuffling around in khakis. Seriously. 

“You really just need to take the initiative to thrive at this school.”

Well, sometimes you take the initiative, but the initiative really doesn’t take you. Every single student here has an organization for which they hold a bitter, nonsensical hatred based on past rejection. If Maddie on your hall seems really pissy about the upcoming Sil’hooettes concert, or Brandon refuses to walk past Jeff Soc and its satanic circle of fancy chairs, then bada bing, bada boom — rejection. Even the most “involved” of students are salty about something, like getting tapped by the wrong secret society or not making President Jim Ryan’s suspiciously cute Instagram. We all have our faults.

“We get all four seasons here in Charlottesville.”

I only know two. First, it’s the Sahara outside and the tundra inside, and then the Ice Age is upon us, and it’s Satan’s armpit indoors. So the answer is, you’re sweaty every month out of the year. That’s why people run so much here — they’re cloaking their sweatiness with exercise. I obviously don’t run because I embrace honesty and being real. You’re welcome. 

Honorable Mentions: “Yeah, finding an apartment off-Grounds is easy,” “We’re a football school now” and “Sure, Corner Juice hires brunettes!”

But the biggest lie of them all is: 

“You’ll be just as happy somewhere else.”

No, you won’t. Not like here. I can’t describe that moment — that moment that everyone has at least once in their time here at Thomas Jefferson’s Wonderland of Problematic Legacies because each one is different, but the feeling is the same. Whether you’re screaming along to your millionth addition of “Mr. Brightside” on Trin 3 or you’re watching the sunrise on Humpback Rock a couple hours later, you still get that feeling. That “F—k, I love this place” feeling. You might get it stepping into your Lawn room or streaking past someone else’s, but it comes all the same. It might come after semesters of tears and forced smiles, but by the time you get into a cap and gown, you’ll realize those lies your tour guide told you meant nothing. Because you made this school your own, learned your own truths and probably told a couple fibs along the way. Because this school sure isn’t perfect, but it’s worth it. And I ask you to find the lie in that. 

Emily Sumlin is a Humor Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at

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