An Interview On
University of Virginia

Background

Interview Date:Fall 2018

Gender: Female
Ethnicity: Latinx
Sexual Orientation: Queer
Graduation Year: 2019, transferred in to begin my junior year after spending two years in community college
High School Experience: Three years at a private Catholic school in Brazil. I finished my senior year at a large public school in North Carolina
First-Generation College Student: No
Major: Psychology
Minor: Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGS)
Extracurricular Activities: Co-ed fraternity, I’m a research assistant for a psychology lab, and I volunteer for the Madison House.

Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
I really enjoy volunteering. I am a homework helper, so I go to Latinx children’s houses and help them with homework. That’s been a really interesting and rewarding experience.

Academic Experience

Can you describe your weekly coursework for your major?
For me right now, it’s a lot of statistics. It’s not a lot of reading, especially when compared to my minor’s course load. I think Psychology is more about understanding the material, memorizing information and [performing on exams].

Is there anything that you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
Since I’ve only been here for two years, I don’t have anything negative to say about the department. I’ve heard some people complain about stuff, but I haven’t experienced those negatives. I think the professors are very, very passionate – some of them, not all of them. The classes I’ve taken so far have been good experiences.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s competitive. For Psychology especially, a lot of people plan to go to graduate school. Also, it’s UVA. There are a lot of overachievers at UVA, so it’s hard to not be competitive in an environment like that.

Favorite class in your major?
Psychology of Perception

Least favorite class in your major?
Research Methods

How accessible have your professors been?
Pretty accessible. I never had any problems with office hours and stuff like that.

Do you feel that people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I think the whole environment in the Psychology department is pretty moderate. I don’t think they lean towards any sides. It’s not as liberal as my Women’s, Gender and Sexuality department. They keep things in the middle.

How was transitioning academically from your school in Brazil to UVA academically? Were there any systems in place to help you adapt?
The biggest transition was going from a Brazilian private school to an American public high school. I did two years of community college before transferring to UVA, so it wasn’t a really hard transition. Obviously, UVA is much harder than community college, but I think it went pretty smoothly.

How easy was it to get involved in research at the psychology lab?
I just applied to eight labs, heard back from three, and eventually got into one. If you apply to several then you can get in.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on and around campus?
Junior: Off-campus in an apartment by myself.
Senior: Off-campus in an apartment with one roommate.

How was transitioning from your hometown in North Carolina to Charlottesville, VA?
They are a similar size, but I feel like there’s more to do in Charlottesville than my hometown. It was good moving here.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
When it comes to security, it’s pretty safe. There were some events of bigotry towards the Latinx community and there as the [Unite the Right Rally]. It doesn’t make me afraid of leaving my house, but wouldn’t expect Charlottesville to be like that. I thought it was better than all of the things that happened.

Favorite off-campus restaurant?
Himalayan Fusion

Favorite place to get away from campus?
I don’t really get off campus, because when I’m not on campus I’m at work.

Pros and cons of being in Charlottesville, VA?
Pros:
(1) It’s a beautiful place.
(2) There’s a good restaurant scene.
(3) There is a [strong academic culture.] Academically, it’s a great place to be.

Cons: It’s a small town. I like bigger cities. [Charlottesville has a population of 45,538.]

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you like to participate in?
I sometimes go out to bars and clubs downtown, or to The Corner or I just hang out with friends or sometimes go to house parties.

What nights of the week do you regularly go out? Are there certain things you like to do on certain nights?
I usually go out Friday and Saturday night. I just go to bars really. Whatever I feel like doing that night I do. There’s no specific thing I do on a specific day.

What have been some of your favorite times at UVA?
This might sound weird, but streaking the lawn is a lot of fun.

How happy are you with the nightlife at UVA? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I feel like there’s maybe four places to go out dancing, and they usually get pretty crowded. I feel like there needs to be more places to go dance because that’s something that a lot of people like to do here and they get crowded really easily.

How was transitioning from Brazil to Charlottesville in terms of nightlife?
I’m from a big city in Brazil where there’s so much to do, and here in Charlottesville there is only so much you can do. But, when I go to New York or D.C., I can get that variety.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends through my major and minor.

How was blending into UVA as a transfer student?
It was hard because you’re just thrown into it. You get advisers to help you, but you have to figure out a lot on your own. I think every school is like that, so I think that’s a con of being a transfer student.

How would you describe the social scene?
It’s pretty good. I feel like I could participate more than I do. From what I see there is always something going on.

How would you describe the student body?
It’s not as diverse as I wish it were. [In the class of 2020, about 56% of students are White.] It feels like a huge chunk comes from the same place and have the same background, which is Northern Virginia. [In 2017, of the 2,537 in-state students, 1,057 came from Loudon County (252), Fairfax County (676), or Prince William County (129), all of which are suburbs of Washington, D.C. in Northern Virginia.]

To what extent do you feel international students mix with domestic students?
It really depends on the student and where they’re from. Most Asian international students, so mostly Korean and Chinese, choose to stay in their cliques and don’t really mingle. There are a lot of international students who hang out amongst themselves. Like, I have a lot of international student friends as well as American friends. It also depends on if the international student belongs to a club, a varsity sport, or is very involved in an organization.

To what extent do you feel people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I think because there are so little, we all kind of know each other and find each other.

Has being a person who identifies as queer impacted your social life or nightlife at all?
I know some queer people that get affected by that, but for me personally I wouldn’t say so.

Do you think people are happy with their choice of UVA by senior year?
I think most people are satisfied with the academics at UVA. But, within the group of people that I interact with, they have the same opinion about UVA being too conservative. So socially, maybe not, but academically, yes.

Were there any parts of UVA or American university overall that surprised you when you arrived on campus?
Compared to the universities in Brazil, there is a huge party culture here. Universities here are also so big that they look like resorts. It’s not a complaint, it’s just something that surprised me. I was surprised by all of the facilities.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
No, I never really looked for help through them.

Have you used the career office at all? If so, how helpful have they been?
I am still working in the same job that I had before UVA. I found my job as a research assistant through the Psychology department.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
In Research Methods 1 we learned SPSS, and now in 2, we’re learning R Studio. Those are for psychology research and will help me in grad school for sure.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating are they to your needs?
I do get financial aid, and they’re helpful. I don’t have any complaints. They’re pretty good.

Something you wish you knew about UVA before entering as a freshman?
It’s so fast-paced and I wish I knew about that. I waited until my fourth year to apply to a lab, and I wish I did that in my third year. I wish I had more knowledge of the things that students do. Being a transfer student, I didn’t know about them, but I have gotten involved this year.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Sitting on The Lawn on a nice day. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

Something a queer student may want to know about UVA that we haven’t touched on?
There is a Queer Center in Newcomb Hall in the basement. Definitely go there because it can be hard if you’re a queer student and you don’t have a support network. You’re probably not going to just run into those people unless you actively look for them because there’s not that many.

Reasons to attend UVA:
1) The academics are good. You’re getting a good education that will prepare you for the workforce.
2) There’s a lot around Charlottesville to visit if you’re into doing things outdoors. It’s a beautiful place.
3) There’s a lot of history around the university.

Reasons to not attend UVA:
1) Depending on what kind of student you are, there are a lot of overachievers at UVA so I can imagine for some people that’s not the kind of environment they want to be in.
2) It’s competitive, and there can be some individualism here.

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