Thursday, January 29, 2009

no really?

In my last post wrapping up the 'Greek saga', I'd like to speak a little on how I have two midterms on the week sorority recruitment ended. 

Am I complaining? Oh yes. I'm really annoyed that I have two midterms after two weeks of classes (four in the month of Feb. Grrreat.) Not that I think I should receive special consideration for being Greek -- the professors at UVA certainly don't give you special consideration regardless of any special status. This is certainly fair treatment, and I heartily approve that even athletes have to go through the same curriculum as non athletes do. But here I question the wisdom of having a midterm on essentially one week worth of material, especially as guys' rush is going on and I'm pretty sure none of the guys in my class have had time to study yet. This isn't really an accurate evaluation of what we've learned then.

But what the hey. My statements are somewhat contradictory, and I should just suck it up. After all, only 30% of the student population is Greek.

As per my question in the last post of girls dropping out, the answer hit me like an anvil on the head. I can't believe I hadn't thought of this before, especially considering I'm in the comm school. The economy, duh. Every where I turn it's always dire news of the economy, and there I was musing about why girls were dropping out of recruitment? I'll blame it on my body's attempt to fight off sickness -- at least half the students in my block have some form of pneumonia (I probably exaggerate a bit too much here), and the other half coughs up a lung every day in class. Not a good time to visit UVA, too much sickness going around. =(

Monday, January 26, 2009

bid day!

Woooh! And my sorority has 39 wonderful new pledges! Here's a brief rundown of what I did today -- probably what most sorority girls do on bid day.

After getting out of class and not realizing my friend couldn't make it to lunch until I was looking for her at the Pav.. haha silly me, I went back to the sorority house (those of you joining us for the first time, I live there) and ate lunch there. We had a running white board of the girls that called and accepted their bids, and would cheer madly every time the sister who picked up the phone called the new pledge's name out. My heart was in my throat for a while, until some girls I absolutely loved called to accept their bids. I'll admit, I skipped out on most of the decorating of the house that went on during this time and caught up on officer duties, schoolwork, and tried to do some of a take home exam. 

We went to pick up the girls at 5:30 pm, cheering and yelling all the way. Earlier in the day, some guys were hiding on Beta Bridge, water balloons in hand ready to throw them at the new pledges of sororities that passed Beta Bridge. Alright, seriously boys? I understand that boys like to make fun of sorority rush, but throwing a water balloon at someone on a day when it'd been snowing is beyond mean. It's really stupid, and lame. Apparently quite a few girls from other sororities were hit too -- what if they get sick and got pneumonia or something like that? Honestly. When one of my sisters heard that this was going on though, she promptly stormed yet to yell at them. It was really funny actually, she stomped out in a huge fury, ready to take on the world. After we got the girls, we brought them back to the house for presents, dinner, pictures, and an impromptu dance party/karaoke. The theme for the night and our bid day nights was Club [my sorority's name]. 

I left bid day a bit early to go to the last half of the first Virginia Women's Chorus practice. We're preparing for concerts in the National Cathedral this semester! I'm really excited about that. =D

Friday, January 23, 2009

rushing, rushing around.

I do apologize for not writing a new entry sooner, this is my first off day since sorority recruitment has started. Those of you interested in Greek life, read on.

For sorority recruitment, there's four rounds at UVA. Round Robins, Themes, House Tours, and Preference. You visit fewer and fewer houses the more rounds you attend, and start by visiting all the houses at Round Robins. That's quite a long day as we have 15 sororities at UVa (not including multicultural, ethnic, or local interest groups). You spend 25 minutes inside each house, talking to some of the sisters. In my opinion, it's sort of a first impressions, introductions sort of thing. The next round is called Themes -- my personal favorite. Potential new members go back to the houses and watch the sisters put on a skit. The house is also usually heavily decorated, and it's just really a lot of fun. This is also the round that I saw the most of a house's personality, especially through how sisters interacted with each other. The third round is House Tours, in which you basically tour the house. I loved seeing the different layouts and how each sister decorated their room. (As I live in the house, I just spent the morning cleaning up and putting up a couple more decorations. I wonder if I should hide my horde of stuffed animals so it's not overwhelming.. hahaha.) The last round is preference. Sororities move this round off Grounds and rent out a big space. During ths round, the sorority in question shares a portion of their traditions with the potential new members.

So that very structured process is sorority recruitment in a nutshell. The guys however, have it a lot easier for recruitment, in my opinion. It's very informal, with a week of Open Houses. Every night, guys visit the houses they're interested in, and if the brothers find a connection with a guy, they extend second round invites. Those could be dinners, or day trips, I'm not too sure of the specifics.

All this culminates into Bid Day, which is the upcoming Monday this year. For sororities, the newest pledge class is directed to a certain place on Grounds where their new sisters will go pick them up, cheering along the way. I love watching the guys extend bids though. The brothers come to the new pledge's dorm, calls him outside, gets into a huddle and throws him up in the air. During guy's bid day, it's really entertaining to just sit outside on the quad on watch all the happenings.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

so about that project...

I swear, every time I mentioned school I talked about last semester's final project. Here's what happened.

For those of you joining the UVa blog for the first time, I won't repeat everything -- please go back a few pages for my older posts, but the question posed to us was: should Rolls-Royce develop a military trainer engine or a civilian turboprop engine? My group's answer was...

Neither. We rejected both projects, and suggested an entirely new one.

It's my understanding from the professors that no one's done this in the history of comm school projects, so to say my group was.. entertaining would be quite an understatement. And as soon as our decision spread like wildfire through the comm school (because one of my group members let it slip.. *coughcough*, we became the talk of the building. 

To save you guys the big 70 page paper or whatever it was, my group suggested nanotechnology, and I'll leave my lovably vague answer at that. I'd like to focus more on the presentation itself. Remember when I said Rolls-Royce sent a whole fleet of executives and we were a bit intimidated? Welladay.

First off, I'd have to say that our presentation was very polished, and our professors and the executives agreed. We were up until 2 am the day off practicing, and got back at 7 am to practice some more. So we had the jokes, the opening lines, and the transitions down pat. We actually spent a bit of time arguing how much science of the nanotechnology (and alternative fuels) we should put into our slides, but still got commented that we put too much science in. 

We opened with the quote "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference". (I have a magnet of that on my fridge now, one of my group members gave it to me today as a belated Christmas present of sorts. We've just vested so much of our lives in this project.. =P ). From there on we knocked down the two projects they gave us in quick order, and then launched into the meat of our presentation. 

We actually focused a lot on nanotechnology and alternative fuels, probably more than we wanted to. In part, we wanted to give them a jolt. After all, these executives had been listening to the same presentations for the past two days. We wanted to give them something different. And we were certainly that. After we ended, with a completely black slide that had the words Rolls Royce. Making the Difference. slowly fade in (my idea by the way! I'm still so proud of it, haha.), the executives gave us a breather in saying we were very bold, and then pulled on the boxing gloves.

We definitely got grilled hard, but I'm proud of my teammates and how they stepped up to the challenge. Our guy in charge of oil talked in so many circles that my own head was spinning at the end, but the person who asked the question seemed quite impressed. It was definitely an experience, some parts of which I'm not sure I'd like to remember, but hey, it's all part of comm school, and college academics in general.

So with that, I promise that's the last I'll grouse about this project. And ahh yes, I'm well aware that with this post, it's probably very easy to guess who I am. Although I've tried to not let too many obvious details about me slip (I'd like to do some reveal type thing when I graduate! =D ), there's only one group in my block, and only so many girls. My fellow classmates in the comm school, have fun guessing!

oh these first days of class..

Spring semester officially began yesterday, and with it comes all the goodness of the first days of class, agonizing over class spots, and the horrible realization that you have homework again.

I talked about signing up for class and the first day of class quite a bit at the beginning of the fall semester, so let's talk about something different today, the return, and leaving, of many friends.

The start of a new semester signals people returning from study abroad, or going to study abroad. I had a teary send off meal for one of my sorority sisters as she takes a break from the comm school and takes some classes in Denmark. Denmark! Lucky her, I'm quite jealous. Not so jealous of the high living expenses, but very envious that she gets to travel to Europe and experience another culture. Another one of my sorority sisters left for Spain last weekend. I believe she's a Spanish major, and where better to get good Spanish practice than in the country itself?

My comm school block has also been decimated and 10 (that's 1/3 of my class!) people have left to go study abroad. I think most people went to the Denmark program as that's the school that the comm school mostly partners with in the spring. I do know of a few programs in Asia, such as Hong Kong or Beijing. Especially with China's economy on the rise (well, it may be on the frizz a bit not), it would be such an exciting semester to experience the happenings of an economy so often in the news.

The sister that went to Spain was my next door neighbor in the sorority house, and her spot has been filled with another sister that came back from Denmark (it's a popular program). We had a fun afternoon discussing all the food she tasted there and how ridiculous it was for the minimum price of a shirt to be $80. Whew! O_O

Study abroad in general at UVa is pretty popular. If I remember correctly from last summer as a summer guide.. 1/3 of UVa students study abroad at some time or another in their college career. Our most awesome President Casteen wants to raise that to 80% by the year 2020 though. He's put in place a lot of programs and initiatives to help with this goal. The nice thing for out of staters is that you don't pay UVa tuition for that semester, you pay whatever tuition the college you'll be travelling to has. So, it could be much cheaper to study abroad for a semester than to stay on Grounds.

But if you ever do come for a campus visit, make sure to ask about Semester at Sea. One of my friends came back from that, and I'm going to have lunch with him later this week so I'll be sure to pump him for details for another post.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

it's good to be back where it's cold.

The cheerful sign greeting you at the baggage claim of Charlottesville airport.

But there's still no snow in C'ville *cue look of disappointment*. It's actually not terribly cold either, which is all to the better. It's always interesting staying in C'ville during breaks as the town takes on a completely different feeling due to the lack of students. It's a lot quieter, there's a lot less cars, and you're just more aware that "oh.. wait.. other people actually live in this town". 

UVA has such a huge presence in C'ville that it's easy to forget the town doesn't exist for the sole purpose of surpporting the school. The baggage claim at the airport even has the words "Home of the Virginia Cavaliers" painted in huge block form on the wall. I'm not sure about this, but maybe the college bubble is even more prevalent at UVA because of where we're situated. It's so easy to think that the world ends of the boundaries of the Grounds. =P

So what, if anything, does the school do to prevent students from thinking the world is flat and ends in Charlottesville? (I jest, it's not that dire. And maybe I'm being too cynical here..). One thing we have that's pretty cool is a Student Readership program. Everyday around 3,000 copies are freely available at Newcomb Hall, and subscriptions include USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and I believe the Washington Post. I usually grab a copy of whatever when I go in for lunch, and it's really nice to not have to buy the paper or get a subscription on the off chance that I'll feel like reading it today.

Every once in a while we'll have a small, local community market. Stands are placed in Newcomb Plaza with bounty from local farmers, cheese vendors, and bagel/other related food vendors. I personally really like it, it's fun to browse and see what the Charlottesville community is up to. We also have an artisan's bazaar in the fall, and quite a few local craftspeople attend that one as well. 

Along with the plethora of clubs at UVA, a lot of them do community service or other forms of outreach to Charlottesville. Especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas, many clubs will sponsor families and provide them with a holiday meal or presents. I was part of Musicians on Call my first year, and went to the UVA hospital regularly to play for patients. MoC also performs on the downtown Mall occasionally. 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

i'm sitting at the osaka airport...

faithfully twiddling my thumbs while I wait for my plane to be called. I've just spent the last two weeks overseas, and while I'm going to miss being abroad, it's going to be nice to be home again. (and the snow! I missed the first snow!)

I spent most of that time visiting family (I'm taller than most of them now. XD ), sleeping, and eating lots and lots of good food. I swear I've gained five pounds in the past week alone. I've never appreciated just how completely void of anything to do vacations are. No deadlines, no classes, no expectations other than waking up before noon (if even that, haha). I've mostly caught up on all the TV I've missed this semester, and made quite a head start on catching up on sleep.

I had quite a weather shock though, I went from cold and dry Charlottesville to hot and humid. Next time I go back, I'm packing shorts and t shirts (that's how hot it is). (They just called for a passenger named Tumbling Twist to come to the counter. That's.. quite an interesting name.)

School hasn't started yet, if that's what you guys are wondering. It's that my sorority is opening another chapter in a college somewhat near my school, so I decided to go back and help out. A couple days after that is UVA's own recruitment, so those of you who are interested in Greek life, you'll be getting an earful in a week!

Ah, and that's the call to board, I'll be in touch.