Freshman Experience: UVA, Charlottesville, VA

Emma Blau

First Year Experience at UVA


If you had told me, an out-of-state student from New York, at the beginning of my college application process, that at the end of senior year I would be committing to the University of Virginia, I would have found that extremely hard to believe. But now, after finishing my first year there filled with memories at The Rotunda, making great friends, and learning more about topics I am passionate about, I can truly say that I couldn’t imagine myself studying anyplace else.

The common saying about UVA students, that they have a “work hard, play hard” mentality was something I noticed very quickly after settling in on grounds (grounds is just one word of many in the UVA lingo you will pick up). I had no idea what it would be like attending as an out of state student, but during my first week I met students from all over the world who were just as excited as me to both explore our areas of interest and also enjoy our college experience. One of my favorite things about UVA is walking around the gorgeous campus. Students can be seen picnicking on the lawn, strolling on the corner, or sitting outside working on assignments. I knew I wanted to be in the South, and I love the warmer weather.

There are so many ways to meet people and get involved on grounds. One feature of many students’ social lives is Greek life. At UVA, students have the opportunity to rush a sorority or fraternity at the beginning of their second semester. Delayed rush was nice because most of my closest friends are all in different sororities. Joining a sorority has been such a fun way to make new friends and participate in philanthropic activities. It can enhance your college experience at UVA, but your experience is not dependent on it. Apart from Greek life, it is easy to get involved in one of UVA’s many student-led organizations or clubs. Football games in the fall and basketball games in the winter and spring certainly bring students together too.

Even some of the biggest lectures are made to feel small at UVA through discussion sections and workshops. For example, my 400 person Intro Chem class had a weekly workshop in which students were encouraged to work with their assigned group to creatively solve problems. I got to know my group members well throughout the semester, and the workshop became a way to clarify uncertainties and ask questions. At first choosing classes seemed a bit confusing, but after the first time it gets much easier. Some of my favorite classes I have taken so far include Social Psychology, Sociolinguistics, and my ENWR writing class!


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