I want to preface this by saying that every college experience is unique and that not wanting to run around Grounds naked at night does not make your time at UVA any less special. But if you’re looking for some of the quintessential or hallmark experiences that will really bolster your time at UVA, keep reading.
1. Streaking The Lawn
So we’re already back to running around Grounds naked. But really, we take streaking seriously. After circling the statue of Homer three times, running up the steps of the Rotunda and whispering, “Goodnight Mr. Jefferson,” through the keyhole you may not be feeling much, considering how far you just sprinted. But the satisfaction of knowing what you just did, and the relief of putting your clothes back on, will make it worth it.
2. The White Spot
Opened in 1953 after taking the space over from a barber shop on the Corner, the White Spot Diner has been a staple for over six decades worth of UVA students. Every time I talk to an alum they always tell me to have a Gus Burger. The famed burger served at White Spot is unique in that it is topped with a fried egg. Known for its greasy comfort food, there’s a reason its been open so long.
3. Lighting Of The Lawn
Lighting Of The Lawn is an annual event you won’t want to miss. Nothing brings people together like the holiday spirit. Every year students are invited to gather on the Lawn for a spectacular light show using the Rotunda and surrounding pavilions. This plus the performances by various acapella and musical groups makes for great memories.
Thomas Jefferson, the founder of UVA, is a pretty big deal in Charlottesville. Most people at UVA know quite a bit about the man who paved the way for their education. Located just up the road is Jefferson’s own home, Monticello. The beautiful plantation offers great tours and scenic landscapes for those interested in history or just a fun day off grounds.
5. Football & Basketball Games
Sports are a big deal at UVA. A really big deal. With football in the fall, you can’t miss out on the tailgates, dressing up and sitting on the hill and singing the Good Ole Song after each touchdown. And when winter rolls around, it’s all about basketball. Everyone loves coach Tony Bennett. Don’t forget to request your tickets!
6. Sunrise at Humpback
Charlottesville really is located in one of the prettiest parts of not just Virginia, but the country. There are so many great places to go hiking and spend some time in the natural habitat around the school. One of the most popular hikes is Humpback Rock where students love to get up before the sun does and watch the sunrise over the scenic overlook.
7. See the Purple Shadows on Jefferson’s Birthday
Every April 13th, the Purple Shadows, one of UVA’s most infamous Secret Societies, wakes up early to lay a wreath and letter at the base of Thomas Jefferson’s statue. You’ll have to be there before sunrise, but it really is a testament to how much UVA students love their founder and their traditions.
8. Picnic on the Lawn
Another way to enjoy the Lawn, particularly during good weather, is to pack a picnic and sit out with your friends to enjoy some company and beautiful scenery. Whether you’re studying, eating or just people watching, there is always something interesting going on. From dogs with frisbees to live music, the Lawn really does transform into the center of student life when the sun comes out.
9. Spend Time in Clemons Library
This isn’t really an exciting bucket list item but more of a necessity. Midterms and finals at UVA are rough, there’s just no denying it. Most people find the best way to study is in the company of other zombies in Clemons library where you can conveniently have all of your meals delivered if you so choose. Nothing brings students together like getting through the hardships of college life.
If there’s one thing Charlottesville residents and UVA students enjoy its a good slice of pizza. Just to name some of the most popular spots, you have Mellow Mushroom, Crozet Pizza and Christian’s. Whether you’re watching an away game on TV, having a club meeting or as previously mentioned – stuck in Clem, pizza is the college cure-all.
11. The Good Ole Song
So this one isn’t really an option. The Good Ole Song is sung pretty much whenever anything of any merit happens at UVA. Once started, everyone within earshot will stop what they are doing and join in pretty much no matter what and without fail. It’s the easiest and most widely accepted way of saying you’re proud to be a Hoo and that you love your UVA community.
12. Snowball Fight
Every year after the first official snowfall, everyone goes to the Lawn for one of the best snowball fights you will ever have the opportunity to participate in while in college. It’s also one of the only times you’re completely free and welcomed to throw things at complete strangers. It’s also not unusual to have a few daytime streakers run by you. They’re fair game too.
13. Attend a Formal
Formals are like prom, but way way better. Whether or not you’re going with a date won’t change the fact that you will probably have a lot of fun dancing with your friends, dressing up and making great memories. They are one of the easiest ways to get a bunch of fun people together for the night and unwind. Also, they are usually held at some of the best locations in Charlottesville.
14. Enjoy the Arts
Not only is UVA a big sports school, but they really know how to do the arts too. From hosting the Virginia Film Festival in the fall to putting on shows of their own year round, UVA has entertainment for all. Checking out one of the theater performances or even taking a class could change your whole UVA experience. Not only that, but it’s an affordable way to enjoy really high quality theater.
While there are so many awesome ways to spend your time at UVA, these are a few of the go-to activities that college students do year after year. Enjoyment really does come from the little things. I find however, that even the little things at UVA can turn into big moments.