What I, A UVA Student, Want You, An Average Person, To Know About Charlottesville, VA

"August 11-12, 2017 might be what comes to mind when you think of our city, but those days do not define who we are."


Charlottesville, VA. You've probably heard of it. Home to the University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. And, on August 11-12, 2017, a huge Neo-Nazi rally called Unite the Right in the middle of Grounds and downtown.

I wasn't in town when it was happening; I was tucked safely in the comfort of home 5 hours away, watching with horror from a distance. I remember telling a friend that opening any of my social media accounts was heartbreaking and every notification of a new email from University security or Charlottesville PD was terrifying. I was sad, I was confused, I was scared. I didn't think something like that could ever really happen and especially not in Charlottesville, the city that I've come to know as a second home.

One tragedy from that day that has gone overlooked is this: Charlottesville will be remembered for this event for year to come. It will not be known for being a happy, fun place to live or a friendly, welcoming community to thousands of lonely, scared college students every year. It will be remembered as a place of hatred and tragedy. I'm not saying that we should forget that August 11-12 happened, but I am saying that it should be remembered alongside all of the good things that Charlottesville has to offer to the country and the world. So, I, a UVA student, want you, an outsider looking in, to know these things about Charlottesville and to remember them alongside of this new legacy that, even a year later, we are still trying to cope with and understand.

Charlottesville is welcoming. August, 2016: a lonely, scared, homesick kid got dropped off at college for the first time. I hated everything and I wanted to just go home. Charlottesville and its people welcomed me with open arms and invited me into the community. No one batted an eye at the fact that I missed my home or that I was pretty much over everything that didn't involve weekend visits back there or phone calls with my old friends and family. Instead, they taught me with patience how to see Charlottesville as my second home. And I did. The community took me in and gave me just what I needed right when I needed it.

Charlottesville is loving. After being integrated into the new community my first year, I got to be a part of spreading the love that C'Ville has to share with the newcomers. It was hard to look at the new students, so excited but also so nervous, and tell them that UVA was still a great place to be just a week after the Neo-Nazis wielded torches on our Lawn and our students and faculty surrounded the statue of our founder to protect it from them. But somehow, the love that the city of Charlottesville showed in recovering from the event was even greater than what I experienced my first year.

Charlottesville (and especially UVA) has a complicated legacy, but we're working on it. Like any other human being, Thomas Jefferson had his sins and vices right alongside his virtues and accomplishments. We're still trying to figure out how to honor what he achieved without glorifying his sins. We're still trying to figure out how we can do that in light of the fact that white supremacists have been using him as a rallying point for a long time. And, while the perfect solution may not exist, many of the ones that have been suggested are founded in love and are making a huge effort to take all voices into consideration.

So, when you, an average person, an outsider looking in, think of Charlottesville, please don't let our legacy be this one really horrible event. Please remember that that is not Charlottesville, not what it is about and not at all a depiction of the people who live there. August 11-12, 2017 might be what comes to mind when you think of our city, but those days do not define who we are and it is my sincere hope that they will not define who we will become in the minds of history.

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.

Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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9 Things To Do In Nashville If You Have No Idea What To Do

Trust me, I was just as lost as you are.


Nashville is a great place packed full of lots of really cool smaller great places that all offer their own unique take on the city. If you're like me, though, and have a hard time ~planning ahead~, then this list is exactly what you need. I went around and got lost and tried all the coolest hidden gems in Nashville so you don't have to. Here are some of my faves.

1. Milk & Honey Nashville

Located in the Gulch, Milk & Honey is the coffee shop/cafe from my dreams. It's decorated perfectly for any cute insta story and y'all when I say their coffee is amazing I mean it. Try it. It's so worth it, and pretty easy to find, too! You can browse their menus here.

2. Frothy Monkey Coffee Shop

While we're on the topic of coffee shops, Frothy Monkey is a MUST try. Trust me, I've drunk A LOT of coffee in my lifetime, and theirs is up in the top 10 of the best. They have other good things too, but if you're a coffee person like me, this place is heaven, I promise. It's right off 12th Avenue and within walking distance of lots of other funky little shops.

3. Two Old Hippies

This is the coolest little shop you will ever go into. Tucked away in the Gulch, it's within walking distance of Milk & Honey, so stop by after you grab a coffee and browse. They have everything from handmade clothes to cool books to refrigerator magnets. This is one of my all time favorites and I know you'll love it too.

4. Baked on 8th


I fell in love the second I saw the cute sign. Baked on 8th has a great atmosphere and even better little pastries, cookies, and cakes. Their cookies were so good it took every ounce of self-control I had to not go back and order 2 dozen. 12/10 would recommend if you're into Instagrammable locations and bomb sugar-filled desserts.

5. Burger Republic

I get it, you've gotta eat more than just cookies and coffee. As far as restaurants go, this place is home to the best burger I've ever eaten, plus the atmosphere is pretty laid back and great, and it's an awesome place to go and watch pretty much any sporting event happening anywhere relatively close to Nashville. Browse the menu so you can know exactly what to order before you even get there here.

6. Fido

In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm a HUGE fan of coffee shops and cafes. Fido was the most perfect little spot. It boasts about its gourmet coffee and great food, and rightfully so. It's also got the coolest funky vibe that makes you just want to sit and stay all day, and it's in a great location and decently close to Vanderbilt.

7. Go see some murals

Nashville is FULL of these bad boys. I know y'all have all seen the countless pictures of those people with big butterfly wings. Well, there's more and they're all around the city and on the side of pretty much every building. It's cliche, but tbh it's also kind of a must do while you're there.

8. Walk around Centennial Park and the Parthenon

This is a really nice place to visit if you're looking to spend a couple of hours away from the concrete of the city, and the Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the one in Greece.

9. Ride one of those little scooters around and explore


I'm not gonna lie to y'all. I did not ride the scooters. They seem kind of dangerous and I know without a doubt that if I tried to get on one it would not end well for me, the scooter, or anyone within a 3-mile radius. With that being said, though, I did see a lot of people riding them and it looked pretty fun, plus it's a great way to see the city without walking too much. So if you just want to explore, hop on one of these bad boys and pray.

Nashville is a great city full of tons of tourist attractions and amazing musical history, but if you find yourself stuck with nothing to do for a couple of hours before your next walking tour, you're sure to find something on this list that you'll love. So, you're welcome.

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