Looking Back

So here I am in New York. The semester is over, which means I am no longer a UVa student. I really cannot believe it. I’ve been so busy recently that none of it has sunk in, and since I didn’t really know what my summer plans are, the end of my semester felt very indefinite and stressful and strange. In spite of this I have had a wonderful time recently with some wonderful people, like during beach week and graduation weekend. My whole time at UVa been indescribably wonderful and so much of me wishes I could stay another year. While I’m in a reflective mood, might as well make a list:

THINGS I’LL MISS MOST ABOUT UVA AND CHARLOTTESVILLE

-       Grounds. The brick buildings with the white pillars, the beautiful gardens, the lawn and the Rotunda, the Amphitheatre, tree-lined Rugby Road with all the frat houses, the Chapel, and lots more. I really doubt you could attend university in a more perfect and beautiful setting.

-       Student fashion. I love how often people dress really nicely – lots of boys in button-down shirts and girls in sundresses – but also how it is totally normal and acceptable to wear running shorts, a t-shirt and trainers all day. As I have started to do. And I’m going to miss it when I’m back where that is not really fashionably acceptable.

-       Downtown Charlottesville. Such a lovely place to wander around, with lots to do and so pretty and charming. On a sunny Friday evening there are street performers and free concerts and tons of families wandering about and it really is the most idyllic place.

-       Wandering around the Corner, getting lunch, browsing UVa apparel, going out to bars… particularly Thursday nights out!

-       The slightly nicer bars, St Maartens and Michael’s, where you can actually talk, where the drama kids go after shows, and where you can get cider.

-       All the places to eat. I could write about the food here for pages. Bodo’s bagels. Take It Away sandwiches. The dumpling cart. The burgers and BBQ at all the bars. Panera (soups, salads and sandwiches, possibly my favourite eating place in the world). Burritos at the Pav. Cook Out milkshakes. Unending deliciousness all around you, all the time.

-       The libraries. I mainly frequented Clemons, Alderman and the Music Library, each of which have their own personality and types of study place to choose from. Sometimes I would hang out in the bustling café by the entrance to Alderman; sometimes I would get a cubicle on the silent floor of Clemons; sometimes I would curl up in an armchair in a hidden-away nook of the Music Library. So many options, depending on your mood.

-       Professors who are not only experts in their field but great teachers and, even more, really want to get to know you, love interacting with their students and really care about them.

-       House parties.

-       Having Barracks Shopping Center, with its two huge supermarkets, lots of shops and restaurants and an Old Navy (big cheapish clothes shop, so very useful) five minutes walk away.

-       Getting dumplings from the dumpling cart (best ever) and eating them in the sun in the Amphitheatre.

-       The chalkings everywhere on the ground, advertising events and meetings, or just saying nice things.

Quote from ‘The Help’

-       All the traditions and names for thing that are unique to UVa… streaking the lawn, painting Beta Bridge, the Honor Code (see previous post!), “Grounds”, going to Foxfield (horse races), living on the Lawn, singing the Good Old Song at every opportunity, and lots more.

At Foxfield races

-       The FYP collective, the email listserve that everyone in the organisation uses and which I get about 30 emails a day from. People asking for rides, sharing funny YouTube videos, sending out a ‘no backspace’ email when drunk, sending out ‘Hoo’s Up’ emails in the early hours of the morning when people are still up studying, plus actual society business!

-       Hanging out with a group of people in my friend Mia’s room on the Lawn with a view of the Rotunda, drinking wine and cider and discussing life and art and our futures and the world’s problems.

-       The Drama Department. Such a homey, friendly place. I’ll miss lazing around on the sofas in the lobby, playing board games in the Green Room, knowing almost everyone you bump into and watching the construction of a brand new theatre through the windows.

-      Walking around Grounds on a beautiful day, feeling proud to be a UVa student, happy to be in such a lovely place, and just very, very lucky.

“Honor of Honors”

Sunday was UVa’s graduation day, and I was glad to be able to be in town for it. Graduation (called ‘Final Exercises’, because UVa has to have its own name for everything) is done on the same day for everyone graduating that year, for every school, college, department and level of degree, unlike back at Birmingham where there are many different dates. The most important part of it is the procession down the Lawn. When students arrive at the university in their first year, there is a ceremony called Convocation, which is held facing the Rotunda – a symbol of the learning that will take place. Final Exercises is held at the other end of the Lawn, facing away from the Rotunda and looking outwards– a symbol of taking the learning that you have now acquired and going forth out into the world with it. For the one big ceremony, the Lawn is packed with seats for families, plus extra space for friends and anyone else who can watch from further away. Every single graduating student, dressed in their cap and gown, process around the side of the Rotunda, down the steps and along the whole length of the Lawn. That’s nearly 7000 people. A special UVa tradition is that lots and lots of students carry balloons with them, of all shapes and sizes, so that they can be distinguished among the crowd. Some people also decorate the top of their mortarboard.

The weather could not have been more perfect, the Lawn looked stunning, and it was a lovely occasion. The special speaker was Katie Couric, who is a household name in America and one of the most famous news anchors and TV interviewers/personalities, and who went to UVa. Her speech was pretty good, we all agreed, not incredible, but pretty good.

After the main ceremony everyone split into separate department ceremonies, held at different locations and where the actual diplomas are given out. I went to the Drama one, held (appropriately) in the main theatre. Because I did Senior Seminar I knew every graduating Drama major, so it was great to see them all actually getting their degrees. All the faculty were introduced, and then the chair of the department read out each student’s name, they stood by the lecturn and he read out a short piece they had written about their favourite memories of the department and their plans for the future, and then they were presented with their diploma by their faculty advisor. It was lovely because it was so personal; because it’s a small and friendly department and because the nature of doing shows means you work very closely with people and spend an awful lot of time in the building, the staff and students have very close relationships and the department really means a lot to them. I can’t imagine that the English or Biology ceremonies were anything like that meaningful. Afterwards there was a reception in the lobby with graduates, friends, family and staff all mingling and taking lots of photos! I was really glad to have been able to attend.

There is such a palpable sense of pride from students and their families about graduating from a place like this. There is a poem that is given to each student on a small card at Convocation in their first year, called ‘The Honor Men’, written in 1903, and it was on the minds of everyone yesterday. It ends with the lines:

remembering the purple shadows of the lawn, the majesty of the colonnades, and the dream of your youth, you may say in reverence and thankfulness:

“I have worn the honors of honor, I graduated from Virginia.”

Beach Week

Last week I went with about 60 other FYPers to North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a migration made by a large proportion of the UVa population. We had rented several apartments right by the beach and had a fantastic time. While beach week is known as a time of copious drinking and all-around debauchery, my friends and I actually just had a really nice relaxing time, chilling out and spending time together, and watching all the first years get wasted. Ha.

Beach week activities included:

-       Napping. On the beach, by the pool, in bed…

-       Jigsaw puzzles

-       Discussions about politics, religion, gay rights, abortion, the meaning of art and life in general. Mine was the intellectual apartment!

-       Playing and learning new drinking games

-       Many, many games of Bananagrams, a continuation of the tournament which began in between scene changes for Romeo & Juliet!

-       Swimming in the ocean and frolicking in the waves.

-       Reading Harry Potter aloud to a big group of us sunbathing on the beach. They were particularly excited that they were being read Harry Potter by someone with a British accent!

-       Swimming in the pool, especially at night.

-       Reading

-       Browsing beachy shops

-       One visit to the tacky, sweaty, notorious yet hilarious local nightclub, The Spanish Galleon (always referred to as Speegee).

-       Grilling burgers and hot dogs by the pool

-       Frisbee on the beach

-       Night-time walks along the beach

-       Going out to dinner to Dirty Dick’s Crab Shack as a group of 60 people. And not in fact being the most obnoxious group of diners there (it also happened to be Bike Week that week).

-       Being constantly sandy, all week long. Even in bed.

A good few days.

Theatre and Bagels

Time is flying by, and this is now the last full week of classes of the semester. Madness. Three weeks left of the semester, and I’m trying not to think about it. So lately…

- I’ve been crewing for Romeo & Juliet which is a lot of fun, and a fantastic production. The set pieces are huge and complicated and scary but we’ve pretty much got it down now. Last week we did three shows, right now we have a few days off and then five more from Wednesday. The cast and whole team are awesome so I’m really enjoying it. Unfortunately at one of the dress rehearsals I ran over my foot with one of the set pieces (which is about the size of my bedroom) so I have been limping around with a nasty toe injury for a week, but whatever. The show must go on.

- This past weekend auditions were held for the Drama Dept shows for the coming semester, which will be the play Rhinoceros and the musical Spring Awakening (one of my favourites – jealous I won’t be able to be part of it!), and I helped out with them, and yesterday got to sit in for all the callbacks for Spring Awakening which was brilliant (and I was very pleased that my casting choices were pretty spot on with the director’s!).

- Last Monday I got up at the ungodly hour of 5am for a little FYP event called Bodomination. This takes some explaining. Now FYP (that drama organisation I’m involved with, see my post from like November about that) arranges for people to go to Bodo’s (a famous Charlottesville bagel place on the Corner) every Monday morning before people’s 9am classes – you get picked up and have a bagel breakfast together. I’ve never gone because I live so far out (also don’t have a Monday 9am this semester so I enjoy that time in bed). However once a year there is Bodomination. One of the things people try and do here is get the #1 ticket at Bodo’s – i.e. the first order of the day. It’s on the list of things to do before you graduate and stuff. There are three Bodo’s locations in Charlottesville, and on this one day a year, FYP takes over all of them and gets the #1 ticket at all three. But they open at like 6.30 so you have to get there early and wait outside. So this is what we did, and then as tradition dictates, we all met and went to eat our bagels together on the steps of the Rotunda (on this day referred to as the Botunda… of course).

Waiting for it to open… not yet fully light

This is the kind of stuff I’m really going to miss.

Natalia xxx

Living in a Fairytale

UVa is really a very special place. Not only is the campus (“Grounds”) impossibly beautiful, the academics amazing and the student body very motivated and really very attractive, but there is a real feeling from the university administration that they want to support the students and give them the best possible experience, plus tons of great schemes and projects from the Student Council and Parents Committee (parental involvement… perhaps a good topic for another post) that just make things… nicer. This is easier to explain with a few examples.

  • UVa Dining Services have a system where if you get sick, you can give a friend your I.D. card and they can either pick up a to-go box of dining hall food for you or a special Flu Relief Bundle  – a pack of soup, jell-o, and other ill-type foods to help you feel better.
  • During exam season the Student Council provides free ice cream sundaes and other treats at the libraries for those studying late at night.
  • Around a construction site on the centre of Grounds, they put up boards which were dark-coloured and kind of like blackboards, and were soon covered with chalk graffiti by students. However, not obscenities or insults as may be expected, but instead adverts promoting student society events, life-affirming sayings or slogans, and several verses of poetry.
  • Safe Ride, a free taxi service, runs late at night and you can call them to pick you up and get you home safely from wherever you are. There is also SafeWalk, where if you have to walk alone at night you can call a number and people will come and escort you safely where to you need to go.
  • There is a Student Garden where those who want to can grow plants and vegetables or whatever – kind of like a free communal allotment for students. Adorable.
  • Clemons library has charger bars – tables with all different kinds of laptop charger cables, for you to just plug in and charge your computer while you work.
  • Clemons also has free writing tutors available three evenings a week so that anyone can stop by and get some tips and advice for their papers.

Lastly, of course, there is the Honor Code, which I think I mentioned here before but haven’t fully explained. The Honor Code is a  student run system with the intention of creating a safe and honest university community. It is very simple – don’t lie, cheat or steal. In any way whatsoever. Every student signs a pledge to that effect when they join UVa, and also sometimes professors get you to write the pledge “On my honour as a student I have neither given nor received aid on this assignment/exam” on the work you submit. It doesn’t sound like much, but it actually is quite a big deal. If you are accused of violating the code in any way you are sent before a panel of students who will decide if you are guilty, and if you are, the only punishment is immediate expulsion. No warning, no second chances, however small the violation was.

The result of this is that professors will regularly give out an exam paper and say to the class, “Take it away, spend two hours on it, closed book, bring it back on Monday morning.” And you are fully trusted to not spend longer on it or use the Internet or any books or resources. Now that is trusting. Another result is that you frequently see people’s bags, wallets, laptops, etc. left around in the libraries while people go to the bathroom, get some coffee, leave to go and get dinner, whatever. Nobody steals anything. It is quite amazing. Having the Honor Code really does make you feel more safe and more part of the community.

The flip side of this is that you get used to it and become very trusting and laid back about the security of your stuff, which can be dangerous since obviously the Honor Code doesn’t exist in The Real World. Plus, of course, things are not perfect here, nowhere can be. It’s not as if every student is an upstanding, morally perfect, flawless human being either. There are plenty of petty, bitchy girls and plenty of guys who are arrogant “douchebags” (to use the common term here). But there’s no doubt that the university community is in many ways somewhat of a mini utopia and it’s a lovely environment to be in while you have the chance. I saw an article written about this in the Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper, the other week.  The author said, “Entering Charlottesville is, in some ways, like walking into a fairytale…. Re-entering the real world is like being violently awoken with a bucket of ice water. I have become far more trusting of others as a result of being here, while also developing an appreciation for beautifully dressed students and classical architecture. And really, living with an honor code is a fairy tale which I am more than happy to be in.”

I know one person who transferred here from VCU, another college in Virginia. When I asked her if she preferred it here she said, “Oh God, yes. This is the happiest place on earth.” Whether or not that may be true, I feel insanely lucky to be in it.

Y’all*

It’s amazing how many people you meet at a university. Thinking about how many new people I have met since coming to UVa is quite surprising, the majority of them Americans but a lot of internationals too. Although this is a pretty diverse student population there is definitely a ‘type’ of UVa student and a large number of them have very similar backgrounds (middle/upper-middle class family, probably from Northern Virginia suburbs), clothes (boots or flip-flops with leggings or shorts and a North Face jacket or sorority/club t-shirt for the girls. Button-down shirts with a North Face jacket and chinos or shorts for the boys) and personality (bubbly, talkative, bright, very motivated, constantly busy, perhaps a little judgmental but generally very friendly). Obviously this is a MASSIVE STEREOTYPE and there are all sorts of people here, but that is your classic UVa guy/girl.

One interesting (I find, anyway) cultural difference between American and British students (or people in general, for that matter) is names. Yes, most people here are called Katie or Alex or Matt or something similarly non-noteworthy. However:

People I Have Met Whose Names You Generally Wouldn’t Find Among UK Students:

Kelsey, Hales, Brooke, Wesley, Sydney, Troy, Blake, Austin, Brittany, Clay, Chelsea, MaryClaire, Mary Margaret, Sarabeth

The “Are you a girl or a boy?” subcategory (hint: they are ALL GIRLS)

Ashby, Quinn, Tyler, Alexis, Blair, Avery, Payton, Evan, Kyle, Carter, Carlson (“Carly”)

The “Have I gone back in time?” subcategory

Anne (loads!), Barbara, Maureen, Edna, Moira.

And while two thirds of UVa students come from Virginia, as mandated by the state, the remainder of them come from all over.

I have met people from:

Delaware, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Vermont, Maine, Georgia, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Alabama, Mississippi, Nebraska, Colorado, Maryland.

Worldwide subcategory:

England, Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Sweden

The main thing I have discovered though (and I realise this is totally cliched and “I’ve-travelled-therefore-am-so-deep-and-an-expert-on-life”-y) is that we’re all very much the same. Someone can be a Christian Republican from Alabama or from a tiny town in Germany or whatever and we can still have lots in common and get along perfectly well. Awww.

Natalia xxx

*People really do say that here.

SPRING BREEEEAAAAKKK

… was not quite as wild as the stereotype would have it. UVa’s spring break was last week, a week off in the middle of the semester (meaning I am now THREE QUARTERS of my way through my time at UVa which I am in total denial about since I don’t want to think about that) when most students either go home or head to somewhere like Florida for the classic college spring break experience. My roommates and I instead headed to Norfolk, Virginia, a city by the coast. Amelia’s dad had got us a hugely discounted room rate at the Sheraton Hotel so we had a little weekend away in a pretty random place. Unfortunately it rained pretty much the whole weekend and it turns out there isn’t a ton to do in Norfolk, but never mind. We went to an art gallery and went shopping and saw a movie and hung out in our hotel room and it was really nice to just be somewhere different.

  

Norfolk has mermaid statues like this absolutely everywhere – the symbol of the city, I guess. We tried to take a photo with every one we saw, although there are so many that we got a little bored with that after about fifteen minutes.

Norfolk is the biggest naval base in the country and is very much focused around ships and sailors and all that stuff. I particularly liked this statue outside the naval museum.

On the Monday my three roommates headed off to their various homes and I took my first Greyhound bus up to DC, where I met my fellow British exchange friend Sukie and we had 24 hours there. We stayed in a great little hostel and visited the Holocaust Museum, the National Gallery of Art and the Postal Museum.

The rest of spring break I just spent back in Charlottesville, which was partly relaxing, partly productive and partly a little bit lonely but then I met up with some people and then my roommates came back and it was fine.

I’ve now finished classes for another week and everything’s ticking along nicely, including our devised play.  This week the weather has turned amazing – 29 degrees and sunny mostly. Everyone’s digging out their summer clothes and lounging around outside. This is yesterday on the Lawn:

Two more posts to come very very soon.

Warm, sunny, Virginian love,

Natalia xxx

UVa Drama

One of my favourite things about being here is the amount of theatre I’m able to do. As well as doing stuff with student drama organisations, like I do back home, I can also get involved with the drama department shows, which have big budgets and professional faculty, and also take classes in the department. Last semester I took a Directing class which was great, and this semester I’m taking Senior Seminar, which is even better.

Senior Sem is a class for fourth-year drama majors in their final semester and is meant to be the culimation of their college drama career. I was very lucky to be invited to join it by the professor, who had taken me for Directing. The class varies each year in content but this year we’re devising our own 30 minute performances in three groups. After spending the first week or so talking and watching interviews with theatre professionals we spent a couple of weeks learning about devising methods and exercises from one of the Acting grad students who has lots of professional experience in this field. Then we were split into our groups and have had three sessions so far working on our pieces. And it’s going amazingly.

I’m very fortunate with my group. Three of us have specific jobs – a Production Stage Manager, an “Outside Eye” (like a director but more of a general facilitator and decision-maker) and a “Text Architect” (to help shape and structure the play that emerges through our exploration). I’m lucky to be the Outside Eye for our group, and my Text Architect is a very talented guy who has already written numerous plays and had one performed by the department last semester. Everyone else are general actors and they are all great. In my previous experience of devising it has taken weeks to come up with a solid idea, hours of frustrated discussion and has generally been very difficult. This time we came up with our idea within the first five minutes, all loved it and are running with it. It also helps that I and my group are a fair bit older than the last time I did devising, with significantly more tools at hand: acting exercises, methods of working, a greater understanding of theatrical styles, etc.

One exercise I hadn’t heard of until recently is Viewpoints, which is pretty non-existent in the UK but is a major way of working over here. It’s very hard to explain but is an acting exercise to essentially examine your kinaesthetic response to your surroundings and the people around you, using the basic tools of gesture, shape, tempo, space, and more. It gets you to stop thinking too much and just see what your body does, and can generate ideas for character, story or blocking. We did it as a class a few weeks ago and my group had decided to use it today, and I was a bit sceptical, not fully understanding it (also it can seem a bit wishy-washy and meaningless). I did a lot of research about it but still didn’t really get it. We did it this afternoon and I still don’t completely (at least not the ‘proper’ Viewpoints technique) but it was incredibly useful and eye-opening to watch. Trying it along to specially selected songs and with vague ideas of character and emotion in mind, a ton of interesting and constructive material came out of it. So I’m now a bit of a convert, in this context anyway. Later this week we’ll be doing some good old-fashioned character exploration and improvisation, which I’m much more  familiar with!

I’m so ridiculously lucky to be here doing this, and as part of an American Studies degree! And I am, of course, fully aware that this kind of drama work is going to be much more useful to my career than reading about the American Industrial Revolution or whatever. But that was always my plan.

I’m also doing the play ‘Vinegar Tom’ in the department, and we’re half way through the run. My job is to operate the automated trap/lift, which is fairly easy but important enough to feel useful! I don’t love the play but it’s a very good production and the cast and crew are all really friendly. Although it takes up every evening, it’s great to get into a routine with a show, knowing what you have to do and where you have to be and feeling like you’re part of a team. All stuff I miss when I’m not doing one.

So this hasn’t been particularly newsy or image-filled, so I apologise – the motivation to write a post doesn’t often strike, but today it did since I needed to spill out my feelings about how awesome what I get to do here is. I’m dreading leaving more and more every day.

Theatrical love,

Natalia xxx

All-American Experiences

Having been back for almost four weeks now, the semester has well and truly started and I am well and truly settled back in, albeit a little freaked at how quickly the time is going. We’re over half way to spring break! What’s been going on?

1. Classes. Obv. Again, more about them another time. I am definitely enjoying the lighter workload this term, though.

2. Frat parties. Last Saturday night was Boys’ Bid Night. Now, in January all the fraternities and sororities have this thing called Rush, which is where you basically try out to join one and it’s a long and complicated process which for girls involves many special named functions with dress codes and decorated name badges and making small talk to about a billion people, and for boys involves a party every night and lots of beer. The girls received their sorority bids (an offer to join) the week before, and the boys got them on Saturday. Therefore in honour of their pledges (the new guys) every frat holds a party that night. So Annelie and I decided to go, along with some other friends, to fully experience the frat scene that we’d previously missed out on.

I don’t have any pictures from that night, so I’ll steal one from somewhere else. This is what your typical UVa frat houses look like:

(We went to both of these ones during the course of the night.)

Frat parties are a very interesting, very American piece of college culture. There’s not really a lot to it, it’s reasonably dark, one room  or area is a dancefloor with a DJ, somewhere there’s a bar (or maybe just a table) with red plastic cups and cheap beer, or, if you’re lucky, some other form of alcohol as well. The guys of the frat are everywhere and, since it’s their turf, can decide exactly who to let in (i.e. all the girls and very few of the boys) and have no inhibitions about going up to people (i.e. girls) and asking them to dance (i.e. hook up). Because it’s a party you do end up meeting more people than you would at a bar, but it’s also a very strange environment since you’re so much a visitor in the boys’ domain, whereas at a bar everyone’s on more equal footing.

I don’t think this is going to become a weekly thing for us, but I’m willing to go a couple more times, as it is a unique experience!

3. Basketball! A couple of weeks ago I went to my first basketball game with my roommates Sallie and Cassie. We were playing Boston College and it was a lot of fun, like a mini version of the football games, with all the same cheerleaders, chants and band but so much easier to follow and understand! Shorter, faster-paced, simpler… and I’m going to another one next Saturday.

4. Speaking of sports, Sunday was the Superbowl, possibly the most American thing since Thanksgiving. Obviously usually I wouldn’t care about who won, but my roommate Amelia is from Massachusetts and a die-hard fan of the New England Patriots, who were playing, making the whole event a very big deal in our apartment. We had a few friends over, ordered pizza and stocked up on other food (and two of Cassie and Sallie’s friends bought these things they’d made called Oreo Balls and they were the BEST THING I’VE EVER HAD) and watched the whole thing (first time I’ve actually sat through a whole football game). It was pretty close, but unfortunately the Patriots lost and it was a very sad evening in 832-4 Copeley.

Amelia, post-game, in our room, on the phone to her dad for consolation, with a very large glass of wine. Being a sports fan will only bring misery.

5. I’ve joined the crew for one of the shows in the Drama Department, Caryl Churchill’s ‘Vinegar Tom’, and we start teching tomorrow, meaning the end of almost any free evenings for me for the next two or three weeks. Still, it’s good to be busy.

Lots more to tell you. Next time.

Much love,

Natalia xxx

Round Two

I’m back at UVa, for my second (and last) semester. The Christmas holidays (or technically ‘winter break’) were great, went to lots of places, saw a lot of people… of course it was over way too quickly and it felt strange leaving home life again to come back out here. Not in a bad way, obviously it was less stressful as I knew exactly where I was returning too, but was also less exciting, for the same reason. But anyway. I’ve been back a little over a week now and had a few days of my new classes, which seem fine. More about them in a few weeks.

There’s not a whole lot to say about being back, as not a lot has happened. The main difference is that a lot of my friends here who were also on exchange have left, as they were only here for one semester. Out of about fifteen of us, six remain, and only two of us left at Copeley (where I live). So that’s one big adjustment, not having that big group to hang out with and go out for dinner and to bars with – but it also forces you to make new friends, which is obviously a good thing.

Once everything properly kicks off (FYP, for example) I’m sure this semester will feel a lot better, because right now it feels a bit empty and just with a lot of work looming.

Well that all sounds a bit negative, so let’s have some photos from the end of last semester:

Edgar Allan Poe’s room – while he was at UVa Poe slept in one of the ‘Range’ rooms, where students still live – but they keep his preserved like it was then. Notice the raven.

At the big UVa vs. VA Tech game – this kid’s outfit got a lot of attention!

One of the ice sculptures at Lighting of the Lawn.

The Rotunda lit at Lighting of the Lawn. The lights in the windows are the symbols of the three main secret societies – you see those signs everywhere around Grounds.

More soon.

Cold and wintry love,

Natalia xxx