Grad Student Perspective: Moving to Charlottesville

Elisabeth Waldron
August 4, 2023
University of Virginia and surrounding area aerial view

As a student in the Class of 2024 MSDS Residential program, I recently moved to Charlottesville and it was quite an adventure. Moving here was a unique experience for me because I had never been to Charlottesville or lived away from my hometown, Richmond. 

In college, other than while living at home over summer break, I was independent. I paid my own bills, filled my own gas tank, bought groceries, etc. But as a graduate student, planning a move to Charlottesville alone was all new territory. First, I had to find a place to live, which in Charlottesville can be a bit of a gamble. After weeks of looking for housing that was 1.) available in the Summer, 2.) affordable, 3.) within walking distance to Grounds and 4.) in a condition I could live with, I found a place that I liked and could see myself in. 

Next, I had to secure a moving van. This was harder than it sounds, as renting the U-Haul was probably the most aggravating part of my whole move. It seemed like one thing after another kept stalling the rental pickup. My reservation got lost. I was not told to check in prior, so I had to check in with a poor internet connection. My credit card got locked. And it was blazing hot in that tiny, musty office. Finally, with the U-Haul secured, I was able to start my move. 

Once I had begun living in Charlottesville, it was like a different world. I always tell people it reminds me of Richmond city life – especially people’s driving (if you know you know) – and college in Ashland, VA, in the sense that it felt like it was a tight-knit Utopia. 

After I settled in, I started walking everywhere, just walking – which in Charlottesville is quite common. Everything is within walking distance. The grocery store, clothes, food, the gym, and most importantly school. 

Being a part of the MSDS Residential program has introduced me to things that I had never experienced before and moving on my own to a new city is one of them. Moving was exciting and a little overwhelming, but it reaffirmed my decision to set out and attend graduate school at the University of Virginia. I feel at home.