My Charlottesville weekend

A traditional Chinese group performs at The Fralin on Friday, August 31, 2012.

I came back to Grounds this fall with a sense of urgency- this is my last year in Charlottesville, so I want to make every moment and experience count. I no longer can rely on the excuse, “I’ll do it next year.” Despite missing my last Rotunda Sing because I had to go to work, earlier in the evening I stopped by the 4th year class dinner to pick up my “113 Things To Do Before We Graduate” poster. When I came home and meticulously checked off all the things I had done in my past three years here, I realized I needed to step up my game to complete the 61 things I have left to do before that dreaded day in May rolls around.

Over the past three years, I have spent most of my weekends socializing Friday and Saturday, and recovering and doing homework on Sunday. I think this is pretty typical of most college students and after attending class, organizing meetings, and doing homework during the week, everyone deserves a few days off. But in line with my 4th year goal of making every experience count, my roommate Lauren and I decided this past weekend wouldn’t be just a normal weekend of bar hopping and Bodos runs. We decided to explore Charlottesville as a cultural town and as a community – and cross a few things off our “113 Things To Do Before We Graduate” lists.

Our Friday night began much earlier than usual. Lauren and I left our apartment in nice clothes and headed over to the U.Va. Art Museum, The Fralin, for Final Fridays, which is a reception held at the museum to look at art while listening to music, chatting with friends, and enjoying the massive quantities of delicious finger foods. For the 21 crowd like Lauren and me, you also get one free drink with admission. While walking around the lobby trying to decide what cheese was the best kind, we ran into some of our good friends and even our roommate, Sheila.

	<p>A traditional Chinese group performs at The Fralin on Friday, August 31, 2012.</p>

While we were talking, a loud drum interrupted us and the next thing we knew, two large Chinese dragons were walking out into the middle of the lobby. Everyone in attendance was invited outside where we saw a traditional Chinese acrobatic exhibition featuring these drums and dragons. This was definitely a much more culturally enriching Friday evening than the one I could have been having, which would have included a Lean Cuisine and reruns of How I Met Your Mother.

Once the performance ended, we decided to say goodbye to our friends and the bastion of free food and headed to the Downtown Mall for Fridays After Five, a Charlottesville tradition for 25 years where every Friday throughout the summer a band plays in the nTelos Wireless Pavilion and families and friends come out to enjoy the music and each other. Lauren and I found some seats in the shade and sat down a people watched for an hour. When you’re in the U.Va. bubble, it’s hard to remember families and little kids live in Charlottesville, too. We were so entertained watching little kids run around with face paint and balloon creatures, and were even more entertained by some of their parents. The band that played wasn’t extremely memorable, but they played songs everyone – including us – could sing along to such as Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

For dinner, instead of reheating the aforementioned Lean Cuisines, we took a nice stroll down the Downtown Mall to our favorite local eatery – Eppie’s. As we took a reprieve from the scorching heat outside, we became even more excited for fall than we already were because of the amazing pumpkin bread than came as a side to our meals.

After dinner, we walked back to the nTelos Wireless Pavilion for Paint the Town Orange, the annual pep rally for the Charlottesville community where the marching band, cheerleaders, the football starters, and head coach Mike London make an appearance to get the town excited for the first home game of the season. I had never even heard of the event before, but my roommate, Molly, is on drumline for the marching band, so Lauren and I went out to support her. Not knowing quite what to expect, we had an absolute blast cheering on the Hoos with the town and admiring all the cute kids wearing U.Va. apparel. Paint the Town Orange was a nice reminder that even though when I think of a U.Va. fan, I think of someone my age, Wahoo fans can be found across all ages. The shared belief in our team can transcend many of our differences – even if just for four quarters.

Before the game on Saturday, Lauren and I decided to do one last thing we’ve always said we would do, but never got around to- we finally went to the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market. Even though it was raining, we didn’t let that stop us from taking advantage of the free sample parade and even came home with some fresh produce and bread.

In one weekend, I crossed three things of my “113 Things To Do Before We Graduate” list and explored more of Charlottesville than I have any other weekend in my time here. Now I have a much greater appreciation for what people mean when they say Charlottesville is a great college town – because now it means so much more to me than just college.

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