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Top 10 things to try for the first time

Take the time this year to escape your comfort zone and explore new experiences

As a fourth-year, I want to experience everything the University has to offer, and one thing I’ve always wanted to try is to do work in the Rotunda.
As a fourth-year, I want to experience everything the University has to offer, and one thing I’ve always wanted to try is to do work in the Rotunda.

If I had to share one lesson I’ve learned in my four years here, it would be to try new things. Oftentimes, it's the little things you try that can transform your perspectives, routines and even improve your mood. Here are just a few ways to mix up the way you approach your days.

1. Run with Jim 

Do you want the chance to run with the president of the University himself? Seems like an unlikely scenario, but as a University student, you can. Stellar athlete and University President Jim Ryan occasionally invites students to join him on a morning run around Grounds. This may seem like something out of your comfort zone, but it could be a great experience that you might never be able to take again.

2. Change your style for a day

Sometimes, I’ll go weeks wearing the same exact outfit but in different fonts. But fall is the best season to take risks — especially when it comes to fashion. It could be an outfit you have wanted to wear for a long time but were simply too nervous to show off. Or, it could be that sense of style you know you secretly love but have repressed for years. So take the leap and go to class wearing something new.

3. Do work in the Rotunda

If you’re like me, you will usually stick to doing work in a library or somewhere on the Corner. But as a fourth-year, I want to experience everything the University has to offer, and one thing I’ve always wanted to try is to do work in the Rotunda. It might seem intimidating, but I’ve heard it’s a quite scenic place to do work, and I think it’s something worth trying at least once before you graduate.

4. Trick or Treating on the Lawn

Now that we’ve gotten past the height of COVID-19 restrictions, a lot of events are coming back that you may never have gotten the chance to experience here at the University. This year, Trick-or-Treating on the Lawn is finally back. This longtime tradition was established in the late 1980s and is eagerly anticipated by children and families from the local Charlottesville community. This year’s event will be held Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. So, find a costume and some friends and go grab some treats on the Lawn.

5. Skyline Drive

If you like drives and sunsets, then taking a trip down Skyline Drive is a must. Skyline Drive is a 105-mile National Parkway that runs the entire length of the Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The scenic drive provides access to numerous trails, campgrounds, visitor centers, and even resorts. But the best part? Watching the beautiful fall foliage while bumping to some great music.

6. Visit a local coffee shop 

For me, Starbucks is my go-to coffee run almost every morning. But every once in a while I’ll visit a local coffee shop off-Grounds with a friend. My second year, I ended up having a great conversation with the owner of one very small coffee shop called Quirk Cafe. She said she is delighted when University students visit and try some of her coffee. Visiting a new coffee shop might be a great change of pace to your normal routine, and you never know, you may make someone’s day. Some great coffee shops to visit are Milli Coffee Roasters, MarieBette Cafe & Bakery and Lone Light Coffee Co.

7. Scrapbook your week 

Weeks here go by pretty fast, and sometimes, they can blend together. Something I enjoy doing every once in a while is taking pictures throughout my week on my disposable camera and developing them. Go on a quick trip to Michaels, and you can have all the materials you need to make a scrapbook. What I like to do is put short little quotes or stickers on every page that describe my day. This way, you’ll have an easy way to remember the little moments of your week. 

8. Walk the long way to class 

Okay, this may sound crazy. We all have super busy schedules, and walking the extra five to 10 minutes to get to class seems a little counter-productive. But, on a day where your schedule is light and you don’t have that much work, taking the longer way to class is like going on a walk but with a destination. Walking around Grounds during this beautiful fall season is a perk too.

9. Try an escape room 

Spooky season is the best time to grab your friends and try an escape room. I used to do escape rooms to bond with my sports teammates, and it's a really great way to bond with people who you may not know as well. There’s an escape room right here in Charlottesville in the Downtown Mall, so if you need an escape from the loads of schoolwork, you know where to go.

10. Meet your neighbors 

If you’re living in an apartment complex, you’re going to be seeing some of the same people every once in a while. I’ve had a couple awkward elevator rides, but a great way to break the ice with your neighbors is to invite them over or even host a fun dinner. One of my closest friends is a neighbor I met during my second year, so you never know who you might meet with just one knock on the door.