Alright y’all, it’s story time. Sit back, relax, and sip on that pumpkin spice latte. While you do that, I’m going to talk about my favorite place on earth—besides my bed—aka the University of Virginia.
Growing up my family used to joke we are Carolina basketball fans first, Catholics second. The Dean Dome was the alter that I worshipped at, and Roy Williams was the high priest. In my 17-year-old mind, there was only one school mascot for me, and it started with Tar and ended with Heels.
My Dad told me I could go to any school I wanted to, under the condition I had to visit UVA—his alma mater—for a prospective students tour. I agreed, believing this was a mere formality standing between me and Franklin Street.
“Besides, Dad, I look much better in Carolina blue than bright orange,” I remember commenting before heading out for Hooville. “There’s no way I will actually go to UVA.”
So along with my high school BFFs, Hilary and Adrianne (who coincidentally took these photos!), we piled into the SUV and drove down 29 South on a gray, cold, disgusting January day.
Let me tell you, even if the weather had been great, nothing was stacked in UVA’s favor. Like most high schoolers, we were exhausted from the boatloads of AP homework we were so desperately trying to keep up with. And the last thing we wanted to do on a teacher workday was get up early and hang out with our parents.
When we pulled up to
campus Grounds, instead of being shoved into a nondescript lecture hall with a projector like we were at so many other schools, we were ushered into the Rotunda’s Dome Room. It was majestic, and offered views of the green Lawn for as far as the eye could see—which I later learned was 0.125 miles.
After the brief info session, we headed out for a tour of Grounds, and my opinion slowly began to change. Sidenote—it probably didn’t hurt that our tour guide was way cute and made a joke about how he was not going to walk backwards at all during the 90 minute expedition—a style of walking we were so over as high school juniors on our seventh college tour.
Somewhere between McCormick and Alderman Roads, I realized my Dad might actually be right. Which at the time, was probably my worst nightmare—other than UNC losing to Duke, of course.
I saw myself studying at Clark Library or heading to Scott Stadium with Hilary and Adrianne by my side. Compared to the drive down I-95 UNC required, getting to UVA was a beautiful breeze. The students seemed happy, involved, preppy, and well, just like me.
Following the tour we grabbed burgers at College Inn—a place I would never eat sober again (#hellocheesybread). But it was there, looking at vintage renderings of Jefferson’s Academical Village out of one eye and the fun times ahead on the Corner out of the other, that I realized UVA was the place for me.
Before heading home, we stopped by the bookstore from some college swag—hoodies of course, after all it was 2008. I was right. I definitely look much better in Carolina blue than bright orange. At least there’s navy.
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