Accommodation Awards: Daryn

The first piece of advice I would give anyone looking for accommodation is to start your search early. Most Universities will have an application deadline for first choice accommodation, and off-grounds housing becomes much scarcer closer to the start of the semester. It feels a lot better to have a place to stay sorted early, rather than worrying as the semester looms closer!

At UVA there are two types of housing: on-grounds and off-grounds. On-grounds housing is provided by the University of Virginia but with off-grounds housing it’s up to you to find somewhere to live.

As you’ve probably seen in any movie which features a U.S. college, it is very common for students to live in the same room with a roommate. UVA is no exception, so expect to have a roommate in nearly any on-grounds housing you choose. There are options at some residences for single rooms but I would say it’s best to expect to have a roommate – and it is the ‘traditional’ U.S. college experience after all!

Best Community

First up is the International Residence College, or IRC. This is a residence targeted at developing an international community on grounds and consists of approximately 300 students, of which around 40% are from overseas. The IRC is located close to grounds, has single and double rooms, and features common kitchen and lounge spaces. A unique aspect of the IRC is the range of events offered including weekly morning teas, afternoon teas, and breakfasts, along with a range of other events such as Conversazione Grande dinners and trips. The IRC is located adjacent to Emmet Street and is a short five-minute walk to central grounds.

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Best for Shopping

Lambeth Field Apartments, or just Lambeth, are down the road from the IRC, and offer apartment-style housing. Each apartment has two or three double rooms with a living area and kitchen. Lambeth Apartments are a bit utilitarian on the inside than other residences, but are more than adequate for students. Lambeth Field Apartments border its namesake, Lambeth Field, an excellent place to throw a frisbee around or play a game of football. Lambeth is convenient for your shopping needs, featuring its own convenience store, and is situated a ten-minute walk from the Barracks Road Shopping Centre. Lambeth is also a ten-minute walk to central grounds.

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Most Modern Accommodation

The Flats at West Village are a modern apartment block located a five-minute walk from The Corner, and around a fifteen to twenty-minute walk to UVA’s central grounds.

To make up for the longer walk the Flats offer a range of modern amenities including a pool, spa, gym, and lobby area with coffee machines. The Flats has one to four-room apartment style suites, with most rooms having a private ensuite bathroom. The rooms share a common lounge and dining area.

Unfortunately all good things come at a price – modern apartments such as The Flats tend to be the most expensive housing option for students. However, if you like the sound of The Flats at West Village, other modern apartment buildings to check out include the GrandMarc and Uncommon.

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Best Everyday Experience

I personally chose to stay off-grounds – it can work out cheaper, you can get a single room (for those of us not keen on sharing a room!), and you have a lot more choice in terms of the type of accommodation and the location.

The two main methods I used to find off-grounds housing were the UVA Housing Facebook Group and the UVA Roommates website.

As an exchange student if you’re here for one semester like me, it can be difficult to find off-grounds housing. As I mentioned earlier the best strategy is to search early. Often UVA students who are studying abroad will look for people to fill their rooms while they are overseas. I am subletting a room from a UVA student who is studying abroad for the Fall Semester – a perfect situation for both of us!

I’m staying in an off-grounds house which is around a 10-minute walk to central grounds and 10 minutes to ‘The Corner,’ the street adjacent UVA grounds with an assortment of shops and cafes. My room is a decent size, and was furnished, saving me from the hassle of organising furniture.

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Additional Information

Most private leases through apartment companies (such as The Flats) or private leases for student accommodation will be for one year. This means you may be responsible for finding a tenant for the remainder of your lease if you’re staying for one semester. Keep this consideration in mind when finding a place. It is preferable to find a one-semester lease or sublet if possible.

Rooms may be furnished but be sure to find out what this means – one person’s definition of furnished may be different to yours.

No matter where you end up living I am sure you will learn to appreciate the pros and cons of your place during your exchange!

Contact Me

I’ve tried to briefly cover some housing options for exchange students at UVA, but my list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about housing, UVA, or studying abroad in general!

You can email me at dgov422@aucklanduni.ac.nz, or comment below.

 

Food, Glorious Food: Daryn

I’ve experienced some differences in the U.S. when it comes to food. First are the naming differences: burgers are ‘sandwiches,’ ‘biscuits’ are scone-like delicacies, and soft drinks are ‘soda.’ Secondly is the relative processing of food – it can take a bit of searching to find healthier alternatives such as mostly sugar-free cereals!  I’ll cover a few places around Charlottesville to give you a taste of what’s available around UVA.

My Charlottesville Favourites

Bodo’s Bagels

Bodo’s is a must-try in Charlottesville. It’s a Charlottesville original offering a range of reasonably priced bagels with various toppings such as meats, salads, and cream cheeses made in-house. The possible combinations of bagels and toppings are endless, but my favourites are the egg and bacon on a plain bagel, and the cinnamon sugar and butter on a cinnamon and raisin bagel. It’s an excellent place for any meal of the day and has three locations in Charlottesville for your convenience, including on The Corner adjacent to grounds.

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The Virginian

The Virginian is Charlottesville’s oldest restaurants, first opening in 1923 and is located centrally on The Corner. Its menu includes a range of classics including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and its signature mac and cheese. The restaurant has a lively atmosphere and is decorated with photos and memorabilia documenting the history of Charlottesville and the Virginian. Called ‘one of the South’s most famous eateries,’ in Coy Barefoot’s book ‘The Corner,’ The Virginian should be on your list during any visit to Charlottesville.

 

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The Sheepdog Café

The Sheepdog Café is in the foyer of the Graduate Hotel on West Main Street. The café has an excellent ambience for studying featuring outdoor patio tables and rustic indoor seating. There’s even a walk-up window if you’re short on time! The food on offer includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I would recommend trying a sandwich, biscuit, or the mini-donuts.

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The Pie Chest

The Pie Chest is known for their excellent range of sweet and savoury pies made from scratch. Pies are available in single servings or in family-sized pies. I would suggest trying the Chocolate Cream Pie or the Chicken, Bacon, and Roasted Garlic Pot Pie. The Pie Chest is on 4th Street in the Downtown Mall. It’s a bit far away from grounds but the effort is worth it!

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Honourable Mentions

Roots

I haven’t made it to Roots yet, but take my word, and the words of others, when I say it’s good! The queues here speak for themselves. As for the food, think a refined version of Chipotle – your choice of meat, salads, staples, and dressings. There are a range of set bowls, or you can customise your own.

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Chick-fil-A

Although not strictly a Charlottesville original, Chick-fil-A has the honour of being one of the few chain restaurants to be represented on-grounds. As the name suggests, Chick-fil-A offers all kinds of chicken: burgers, nuggets, tenders, and salads. Make sure that you try the signature Chick-fil-A sauces – they’re a big part of the Chick-fil-A experience!

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Contact Me

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions about UVA or studying abroad in general!

You can email me at dgov422@aucklanduni.ac.nz, or comment below. Follow my time abroad on Instagram @daryngovender_

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Impressions: Daryn

Hey everyone, it’s been nearly a year in the making but I’ve finally made it to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia, or UVA!

Preparation

There are a lot of things that you need to do before exchange, but it is worth it! The 360 International application, your Exchange University application, Visas, Health and Travel Insurance, Accommodation, and everything else can take a while to get sorted. My advice would be to keep on top of things, especially your Visa and immigration forms, and if you’re looking to live off-campus, start your search as early as you can.

Getting to Charlottesville

I chose to fly with Air New Zealand direct to Houston with a two-night stopover. I was lucky to visit Houston a few days before Hurricane Harvey, so hope that the city recovers quickly. After this I flew via Charlotte, North Carolina and arrived at Charlottesville Albemarle Airport, around a 15-minute drive to downtown. Charlottesville takes its role as a University city seriously, and it’s not uncommon to see UVA branding on almost anything including the airport, cars, and even on the road!

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Flying to Charlottesville

 

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Charlottesville Albemarle Airport Arrivals

Initial Impressions

I arrived in Charlottesville in the aftermath of the violence and rallies of August 11 and 12. Although it was a bit unsettling to see the events in the news before arriving, everyone I talked to was adamant that the protests did not represent the true Charlottesville.

Charlottesville is a university town with most things centred around campus and ‘The Corner,’ a row of cafes, restaurants, and shops adjacent to the Rotunda.

I chose to live off-campus so could move in as soon as I arrived. I’m fortunate to live in a house with a bunch of great guys (who are obsessed with Africa by Toto), but more on housing in my next post.

 

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Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall

Grounds

UVA has a lot of its own unique terms, one of them being ‘grounds,’ which means the University campus. The grounds are the only American University designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why. From the flagship Rotunda and Lawn, to the Amphitheatre and numerous statues, UVA is a beautiful place to visit every day. There’s all you would expect from a University: numerous libraries, dining halls, the bookstore, gymnasiums, and sports stadiums. No matter the time of day, nothing beats walking up the lawn and glimpsing the Rotunda, designed by Thomas Jefferson and inspired by Rome’s Parthenon.

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The Rotunda

UVA’s grounds are vast, so walks can be lengthy between some buildings. Fortunately, the free University Transit Service has you covered with frequent buses to, from, and around grounds. Charlottesville Area Transit also provides free rides on their bus network to UVA students, which is handy for trips further afield.

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Beta Bridge welcoming International Students

Orientation and Classes

The orientation for exchange students was on the Sunday before classes, covering class enrolment, general tips, and paperwork, followed by ice cream! The International Students Office is handy for any questions, from ID cards to travel, and the advisors there are always friendly.

There’s always a range of events going on for International Students such as Pizza on the Lawn, an International Students’ Picnic, and a trip to Washington, D.C.

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The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I’m based in the College of Arts and Sciences (also known as ‘the College’), which is the largest of UVA’s ten schools. Students are encouraged to visit a range of classes to see what interests them. I spent the first few days visiting a range of classes before I finalised my timetable. My two core courses are in the Economics Department but I’ve taken the opportunity study classes that I wouldn’t normally take at Auckland in Entrepreneurship, Creative Writing, and Politics.

Classes at UVA vary widely – my economics classes are in ‘traditional’ lecture-style classes, while the other three have between nine and eighteen students. These courses are focussed on student and professor discussions, something which is a bit different for me. The professors get to know your name and it’s certainly obvious if you don’t attend!

Being summer the weather is quite hot and the air conditioning in classes is a welcome relief. I’m told that the Fall Semester allows you to experience the full range of weather as the trees shed leaves, and there’s even a chance of snow in December.

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Grounds looking towards the UVA Chapel

Clubs

UVA boasts over 700 student-run clubs and organisations (about one for every 30 students), so there are many options to get involved. A Fall Activities Fair was held on the Lawn and in the amphitheatre the day before classes started. The most common strategy by students is to sign up to anything that interests them and to be more selective once the semester starts. I’m involved in a few clubs, including The Cavalier Daily as a Photographer and News Writer.

The Cavalier Daily is UVA’s student newspaper, Charlottesville’s oldest paper, and was named as one of the top 10 College Newspapers in the country. For those of you interested in fraternities and sororities, they do recruit in the Fall Semester, but the ones that I talked to are only looking for students who will be at UVA for at least a year.

 

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UVA Fall Activities Fair
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Taking Photos for the Cavalier Daily

Activities

If you look hard enough, there are always things happening on and around grounds. I’ve been to talks featuring NASA Astronaut and UVA alumnus Thomas Marshburn, Political Scientist Larry Sabato, a tour of Charlottesville start-ups run by Hack Cville, an International Student’s trip to Washington, D.C., volunteering for the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program, pre-games, football, eclipse watching, taking photographs of sports games, and more.

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The first football game of the season

The Dave Matthews band hosted the Concert for Charlottesville, an evening for the community to unite in the face of recent events. This was an action-packed event, featuring performances from Pharrell Williams, Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Coldplay, and Stevie Wonder, all held at UVA’s home of football, Scott Stadium.

Other things to keep on the lookout for in the coming months include the Virginia Film Festival, UVA’s Bicentennial celebrations, and the Thanksgiving break.

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The Concert for Charlottesville at Scott Stadium

Travel

Charlottesville seems a world away from anything else, but it’s actually quite accessible to the rest of the country. ­Washington, D.C. is less than three hours by Greyhound (bus) and Amtrak (train), or less than an hour by plane. Unfortunately the UVA Semester Calendar isn’t that travel-friendly with a few small breaks, rather than a longer mid-semester break as in New Zealand, but I’ll see what I can fit in.

Contact Me

I’ve had a great time at UVA so far, although it promises to get busier with midterms and assignments due all at once!

If you have any questions feel free to email me at dgov422 (at symbol) aucklanduni.ac.nz (no spaces), or comment below.

You can also follow me @daryngovender_ on Instagram, or @daryngovenderCD on Twitter (they’re both works in progress!).

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