Lake Worth, FL
Environmental Studies


making stuff exploring the James being messy stompin' to live music vegan food

About Me

POP Goes the UR Bubble

September 19, 2014

    A common way to introduce yourself around the University of Richmond is to state where you have come from, as if this piece of information is vital to the very fiber of your existence. Why isn’t my sun-sign or my birth-order just as important? (Hi! I’m Izzy, and I’m an only child and a Scorpio.)

  “I’m from South Florida.” I sometimes stammer, self-conscious of the impression it might make on someone whom I just met; particularly if their first thought is Disney World, cranky retirees, or face-eating zombies.

.....And so, I’ve become obsessed in defining myself in this completely new context, now that I’ve been let loose into a thriving city. What is always in the back of my mind is this: what does it mean to be a Richmonder? 

    This question is partially answered every time I’ve broken out of what has been deemed the “UR bubble”, or the act of leaving our academic oasis for the greater world of Richmond. As I’ve been exploring Carytown, downtown, and the museum district, I’ve been eager to escape the hot, sweaty Mickey-Mouse character suit in which I’ve felt encapsulated. I believe my experiences breaking the “bubble” will serve the purpose. I’m discovering that outside campus, the city of Richmond is overflowing with exciting politics, performing and visual art, swanky music venues, community gardens, AMAZING restaurants, and apparently some good places for swing dancing to name just a few ways to spend a Saturday.

   So far, I’ve only had fleeting encounters with the city- all of which have given me a little more perspective on assuming an identity as a Richmonder. My first official outing was going to the city YMCA to assist with a mural painting that is being spearheaded by members of *WILL (Women In Living and Learning.) While it was a short-lived Saturday experience, volunteering in Richmond is one of the most rewarding strategies for getting around. My next move is perhaps to visit Tricycle Gardens, a Richmond community garden, or to be a volunteer with the Blue Sky Fund where I would introduce inner city kids to the outdoors through rock-climbing and kayaking. A fellow blogger Maren throws up a Westhampton         Painting the wall!

Maren represents by throwing up a Westhampton "W".

    Here’s the question I have had on my mind since the day I got here- where can I hear some live music? Turns out it’s happening everywhere, every night, and it’s only an $8 cover. On any evening of the week (after finishing homework, of course) I could waltz into a venue befittingly called “Strange Matter” to experience local sounds in the ambience of pure punk. The walls are stickered with band logos and racy wall murals while the back is home to slew of retro arcade games! Around the corner from Strange Matter, I encountered a young woman on a wall dipped in a jar of strawberries, a testament to the incredible street art that Richmond is famous for.


(ETAM Cru is the street art duo that brought her to Richmond.)

    One slow Sunday morning when the air finally seemed crisp as summer winds into fall, I rolled out of bed to go for a walk and took a Spider Shuttle to Thompson and Grove. I was spontaneously introduced to Black Hand Coffee, which are probably Carytown’s finest beans. The perfect way to write papers, I assure you, is enjoying a hummus and tomato bagel with a dirty chai. It’s impossible not to take note of the incredible amount of tattoos and The Shins in the background, a serious 180 from the khakis and polos I’ve gotten all too familiar with.

   An adventure is always waiting just outside the UR bubble, which I encourage every student of U of R to pop every now and again. Like I mentioned in my bio, I would hold on to your handlebars- mainly because I’ll be moving fast with the help of a trusty new bike I’ve been learning to build from a good-hearted though mildly opinionated man named Dan. Stay tuned folks!


My name is Isabella, casually known as Izzy. I'm a kid from the swamp (South Florida) who came to Richmond to explore- my surroundings, my academic and artistic interests, and my personal self. When I stumbled upon UR, I was a high-school senior at Dreyfoos School of the Arts who was swimming (or perhaps drowning) in a sea of college applications and presentation, unaware of where I would be in less than a year. It's exciting to be a newly born spider, one who is released upon this beautiful campus, with no other goal than to get as much out of my educational experiences as possible. As a Spider diarest, I will try to recount my adventures in their fullness as I foray across The Commons, The James River, and the downtown art scene with only a bike and a backpack. Hold on to your handlebars folks, I'm intent on chasing the opportunities and the oddities just beyond the pointed arches....