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

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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9 Reasons Why Topsail Island is the Best Beach in NC

North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in North Carolina.

1. The sunsets.

Topsail has the best sunsets out of any beach in North Carolina. Hands down.

2. The shark’s teeth and seashells.

You can always find a large amount of cool shells and shark’s teeth every beach trip. I have found that it is not like this at every beach, only at Topsail. Shell hunting tip: check out the point on the south end of the island every morning for the best shell selection. You might even come across a hidden mailbox with notes in it while shell hunting down there.

3. The food.

From Max’s pizza with the pepperoni under the cheese to the seafood at Breezeway and even having the experience of eating outside at Sears Landing, Topsail has some of the greatest restaurants any beach in NC has to offer. The best part about the food in Topsail is that the restaurants are all local. Also, there is a brand new doughnut shop in the Surf City part of the island...what could be better than doughnuts and the beach?

4. The Fourth of July.

Every year Topsail and neighboring town, Holly Ridge, rotate between who does fireworks on the fourth and who gets to do them on the fifth. Basically this means two whole days of celebrating our great nation at the beach. The Fourth is also fun in Topsail because the beach is full of people decked out in red, white, and blue, blaring country music, and playing cornhole and swimming all day. Some parts of the town even have mini Fourth of July block parties (okay maybe that's just my family and our neighbors but it’s still pretty fun).

5. The small town atmosphere.

Topsail is a small island which gives it a small town, everybody knows everybody kind of feel. It’s really easy to make life long beach friends here because you have the opportunity to see the same people out on the beach every summer.

6. The ice cream.

Growing up, we went out to get ice cream EVERY single night and admittedly we still do. It often feels like the whole island has the same idea because the lines are always out the door at every ice cream place on the island. Don’t let this discourage you though. It’s an unspoken rule to wait in the line no matter how long it may be because ice cream always tastes better at Topsail.

7. The best of both worlds.

Because Topsail is an island, in most cases you can see both the ocean and the sound from wherever you are staying. This is pretty awesome because you can watch the sunrise over the beach and the sunset over the sound without having to go too far. You also can go from playing cornhole on the beach to jet skiing in the sound without having to walk too far so you really do get the experience the best of both worlds.

8. Outdoor movies.

On certain nights of the week Topsail this has cool thing called “Summer Movies in the Park” where they play movies on a big blow up screen at a park that sits on the sound. The best part about this is that the movies are FREE. Tip: if you are vacationing at Topsail with bae, I highly suggest going to an outdoor movie together, even if it is Cinderella and even if you have seen it 100 times already you should still go. But, if outdoor movies aren’t your thing then I suggest going roller skating or playing a game of putt-putt.

9. The memories.

Whether you go for a week or a weekend, I promise that you will make some great memories with the people you love at Topsail Island. After spending 19 summers on the island, I know I sure have. From Fourth of July block parties, running into friends from all over NC, adventuring with cousins and swimming during hurricanes, I can honestly say that spending my summers at Topsail Island has been one of the best things ever.

North Topsail, Surf City, South Topsail, it’s all part of the best beach in NC and I highly recommend planning your next beach vacation to Topsail Island.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.topsailnewsonline.com/?p=9478

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5 Things To Do In Columbia, South Carolina, To Keep You Entertained

It's bigger than you'd think.


Growing up in the state of South Carolina, I'd been to Columbia lots of times but I never really got to experience the sights and sounds quite the way I do now that I'm in school here. That being said, I feel like I've gotten to check some cool things in the past three years and I'd like to recommend some to you!

1. Get Coffee!

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Obviously, we have a trillion Starbucks, but I mean try out some of the other, more localized coffee shops such as Drip, Immaculate Consumption, Cool Beans, Zombie Coffee and Donuts, and the list goes on. And again, while we all love Starbucks, it's good to try new things, especially locally based things that put money back into your economy and locally sourced coffees.

2. Catch Some Baseball!


We have our lovely Gamecocks in action basically every weekend, and the SEC season is underway so there will be some talented teams rolling into Columbia in the next few weeks to take on the Gamecocks. We also have the Columbia Fireflies in action pretty soon, so go check them out as well. Don't forget your glove!

3. Brunch!

My friends introduced me to some really great places to have brunch. I definitely think Tazza Kitchen is my favorite but there are so many great restaurants to explore throughout the city that have brunch food and drink specials! Also, it's a nice way to kick off or end your weekend surrounded by food and people that you care about.

4. The Great Outdoors!

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There's always something to do outside! For the most part, we have great weather, so outdoor activities are a must! And we have various festivals that come and go throughout the year. We also have lots of parks and rivers for walking, running, kayaking, swimming and more!

5. Museums!


I know everyone thinks museums are lame but I don't! So, we have plenty of things to look at and take in around Columbia! We have a children's museum for the younger crowd, in addition to the Columbia Museum of Art and the South Carolina State Museum. I actually used to go to the state museum a lot as a kid with my parents. There are also other smaller places around Columbia and on campus to check out if you're into history like I am!

This is only a small list of the attractions in Columbia. For all the trash I talk about this state and about this city, it does have some pretty loveable things. You can eat your heart out, learn, cheer on your favorite team and that could only be day one.

If you have any other suggestions of things to do or would like to request me as your personal tour guide, let me know!

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