Wednesday, December 16, 2009

T-Minus 20 Hours

Recently, noise levels have gone up in my hall... As an RA, I need to enforce Quiet Hours. For those of you who don't know or haven't lived on Grounds since first year, during finals, there is a rule called Quiet Hours. Essentially, in dorms everyone needs a quiet atmosphere to study because the libraries are packed. Therefore, conversations in the hall should be a whisper, you cannot blast music in your room, and common areas are limited to quiet conversations. Penalties for violating quiet hours are pretty severe, with the first violation being a conversation with your Area Coordinator and a possible UJC trial. Yes, a UJC trial.

As an RA, I have informed my residents about this rule and I enforce it. It is a serious rule, and most people follow it, because everyone is studying hard for their finals. It makes sense, no? Well, recently my ressies have been very loud. Why? Because they're done.

I. Am. Jealous.

As a student, asking someone to quiet down because other people (including I) are studying and then finding out that the reason they are loud and happy is because they're done is a new low. (That was a long sentence!) Don't get me wrong, as an RA I will do it. As a student though, I am pretty miserably envious.

With my last final in T-minus 20 hours, I am ready to be out of here. I started last Monday with a History final, had two essays, a portfolio due, and will end tomorrow with three finals under my belt. I am ready to bounce!

Friday, December 11, 2009

continued: finals week

It has snowed (late I know). It has rained (Lighting of the Lawn). It has finally gotten cold, going below freezing until two in the afternoon. People have started sporting peacoats and northfaces, tugging hoods close to their face when the wind hits. Nevertheless, I decided to run in shorts and a long-sleeve shirt, not just because I'm cray cray but because I needed to hand in my essay. That's right! I finished that bad boy.

Because my brain is fried right now, I am going to point out some odd things that I've noticed through finals week.

1. The squirrels: They have gotten so large. They are still furiously searching for nuts, stuffing their faces, or madly burying them. The result is that they have ballooned. I believe that they are an indication of a heavy winter. Although it was cold last year, it was very mild. I believe that this winter will be one of the coldest, longest, and severe winters Virginia has seen in a while. Did I mention that it snowed and the snow stuck?

2. Open appointments at the Writing Center: It's finals week and that means at least three deadlines for papers. Usually the Writing Center is packed, and for good reason. For those of you wondering what the Writing Center is, check out their website. Those fantastic people there will help you begin your essay, touch up your grammar, and strengthen that argument. However, they can probably tell you that better than I can.

3. Students who wear raincoats without hoods and no umbrellas: Yes, your head will get wet. Your knapsack and your books might get soaked too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

proof of my procrastinating!

The Google Chrome browser for Macs came out! I probably could do a post on the supergiant of a company, Google, and how they're coming out with a Chrome Operating System (Chrome OS) as well as a browser and a new, newer email (see earlier post about Googlewave), and my, don't they look big now?

I need to write an essay that is two days past the deadline. Surprisingly, I am not stressed about that, but I just want it to be done! I am such a big procrastinator. My friend sent me an article called "The Disadvantages of Elite Institutions." It talks about how elite institutions give its students so many second chances, priming them for a world where extended deadlines, a support network, and guidelines are the norm. In contrast, universities such as Cleveland State ready its students for "lives with few second chances, no extensions, little support, narrow opportunity—lives of subordination, supervision, and control, lives of deadlines, not guidelines." (American Scholar) While that sounds like an advantage that elite institutions have, elite institutions give you a false sense of self-worth, ushers you into the upper-class and then "trains you for the life you will lead once you get there." In actuality, Mr. Deresiewicz talks about numerous disadvantages, the first of interestingly is you're "incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you." Just by that, University of Virginia would definitely fall under the category of "elite institutions." It is an interesting article, and if you are not bogged down with mandatory readings for classes, I would definitely recommend taking time to read William Deresiewicz's commentary.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Two Weeks of Stress

Just to show you that I'm alive...

Unlike the majority of UVa students, I have a test on Monday. Classes officially end Tuesday. I also have a paper due Monday. I have not started the paper. This is why I am not writing entries left and right.

To make this post more useful than my ranting though, I want to point out some awesome studying spots that most people overlook. The typical places, like Club Clemons, reek by the end of finals week. Why? Think about the unwashed masses of bodies who have camped out in Clemons for more than 48 hours. A friend likened it to Dante's Inferno, each with a level of smelliness. (While that is a ridiculous hyperbole, I must concur at some level.)

1. The Rotunda: I've mentioned this before, but the Rotunda is pretty devoid of studying students and instead of tourists. Was this the original purpose of Thomas Jefferson? I believe not. Note the weird hours it is open though.

2. Albert and Small Specials Collections Library: It has some pretty rooms with couches and plants. No one ever ventures in there because it seems off-limits. Lies. 2nd floor is beautiful.

3. Newcomb Hall: Most visited is 2nd floor because that is where the Dining Hall is. Well, obviously don't go there to study. Check out the Student Activities Center (SAC) on the first floor, the quiet places on 4th floor, and all those conference rooms on the 3rd. Third floor also has couches and desks and outlets. Food is accessible downstairs. Bathroom is on every floor. I'm set.

4. Pavilion VIII: Apparently open whenever first floor is not in use. I have not checked this out, but why not pass it along?

5. All those "specialized" libraries: There's a gorgeous Philosophy library in Cocke Hall, Physics Library on 3rd floor, Bio/Psych Library in Gilmer, Chemistry Building, Health Science Library... the list goes on. Who knew each department needed its own library?

6. Corner: Para Coffee is an instant favorite because of its awesome drinks and free wi-fi. Don't be scared to ask for the password. Starbucks is some people's preference, but it tends to get extremely crowded. There's another coffee place on the corner called Fox Park. Bodos gets loud, so it's not conducive to studying but perhaps group meetings.

There are definitely more but I am too frazzled to think of... Oh well. Wish me luck and see you in two weeks!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prestige. Tradition. UVa?

So in preparation for the beginning of finals week next week, I have been studying in periods of 3 hours in the Rotunda Dome Room. The Dome Room is open 9am-4:45pm, and contrary to general belief is open to students who are studying. It originally was and still is, to a lesser extent, a library and why can't students study in a library? It's usually empty except for the occasional UGuide group and the independent tourist.

After a while, I can't help but memorize tidbits of the stories that the UGuides give. Did you know that the Rotunda standing today isn't the original, because the original burned down? When it happened, lots of students and professors risked their lives trying to save the books in the library. Out of the 60,000, I believe they managed to salvage at least 12,000. A group of particularly Jeffersonian-dedicated students tried to save the two-ton statue of Thomas Jefferson that used to be in the Dome Room but now stands on the second floor of the Rotunda. When dragging the statue down the stairs, they lost control and it slid down the flights of stairs to the bottom. The scratches on the cape of Jefferson is proof of that wild escapade.

I'm obviously studying very hard, but let me digress a bit. Also to put out a disclaimer, the following information is a very real stigma, definitely controversial, and not true for all Lawnies. It is said, and I have been told this personally, to become a prestigious Lawnie, there are certain organizations that you should join. UGuides is stereotypically considered one of those organizations on Grounds. One of my friends struggle with this stigma and he has plainly said that he hesitates to apply for a Lawn room because of it. To me, this tells me that there is a hierarchy at UVa, and that if you do the right things, join the right organizations, and know the right people you are guaranteed a prestigious Lawn room. This has been both subtly conveyed to me and blatantly articulated.

What is this Lawn room that is so coveted? Honestly, besides the prestige and location, it is a pretty crappy deal. It is the most expensive room you can ask for on Grounds. It has the worst bathrooms on Grounds. If you like your showers, the Lawn rooms would not be my first recommendation. There are no kitchens or AC. You get tourists in your room all the time as if your room was historic Williamsburg and that LCD TV monitor over there was just part of the authentic colonial decor. It's small. You have to pay for the firewood that is stacked by your door. You have to pay for the fluffy bathrobe that has become so synonymous with the Lawnies because they have external bathrooms. In fact, back in the day, the Lawn rooms were actually considered the worst housing deal you could have. It became so unwanted that the administration put an application, told the student population that the application pool was "extremely competitive" (they were lying), and in a year, the Lawn rooms became the most prestigious and competitive housing rooms on Grounds. Typical UVa behavior?

Therefore, the Lawn rooms are now extremely prestigious to the point where students on a "fast track," such as Echols scholars and Jefferson scholars, believe that the Lawn room is the ultimate destination. This sort of mentality has led to cutthroat behavior, such as the aforementioned one of joining organizations just to get into the Lawn. To continue the idea of a hierarchy at UVa, only certain organizations on Grounds have their special Lawn rooms. With the prestige associated with Lawn rooms, what does that say about these organizations? It says if you join these organizations, you can get a Lawn room.

The purpose of the Lawn rooms is to "recognize students for unselfish service to the University and achievement in their respective fields of activity and academics" (Housing website). Are all the Lawnies representative of this? In response to this, a secret society last year sent a letter to the Lawnies. The letter criticized students who "desire[d] to be on executive boards, to participate in community service, to be in CIOs, to live on the Lawn even, only because they [felt] obliged to look better on paper than their peers." Instead, the letter advised "[gaining] tools needed to make the most of the mountainous horizons beyond where the Lawn ends." It is important to remember to take a step back, look beyond UVa, and do things because you enjoy them.