Park Ridge, IL


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About Me

What It's Like to Live in the City

October 16, 2017

This summer I had the opportunity to live in downtown Richmond—specifically, in Shockoe Bottom. Now in my fourth year at UR, I realize how awesome that experience was. Given that UR is largely a self-contained campus, people often only venture into the city with a specific destination in mind. Yet, when I lived downtown, there were times when I chose to just get lost in the city—to explore the area and see where it takes me.  Walking around, without the need to constantly check my GPS, I discovered some really cool spots nearby my summer apartment.

Many of my stopping points centered around the heart of Richmond: the James River. So much of Richmond culture owes itself to the James and this summer I saw why. On weekends, Richmonders flock to the river for a multitude of reasons. Some put on their swim trunks and head to the various “beaches” to wade in the water or to do their best Tarzan impression as they flip off a rope swing into the river below. Others go in search of secret spots, which remain largely undiscovered to the masses and tourists. Some strap on life jackets and head up the James to go white-water rafting for the afternoon. Others blow up their inflatable mattresses or tubes to float down the river with friends. Some go on runs across the suspended bridges which cross the James. Others head to festivals or concerts on Brown’s Island. This summer, I did almost all of these things and it made me really appreciate the diversity of activities surrounding the James.

Yet while the river offers so much to do, it’s not the only great part about living in the city. I also took advantage of the burgeoning food scene and craft breweries. Thanks to an HR program offered through my summer internship, I took a food tour of the Fan District where we tried samples from five popular, locally-owned restaurants. If ever you’re in the area, I highly recommend Foo Dog, which offers a wide variety of Asian street food. Since having come back to school, I’ve been meaning to return to many of the places I enjoyed over the summer. Now, I just have to convince my friends with cars to take me.

One of my favorite parts of Richmond is the art scene. And despite not considering myself artistic in the traditional sense, I always appreciated that when I’d travel around the city—whether that be to the river or from one of the restaurants—interesting artwork could be found. Richmond is home to some really impressive murals and street art, particularly right by my summer apartment. The VMFA, which I’ve written about before, also contains a vast collection of great art which takes multiple trips to truly appreciate. 

Luckily, during a few of my city explorations, I had my camera with me. So, while there's not an extensive amount of footage, I thought it’d be great to share some of what I captured over the summer. Hopefully it serves as a nice visual to some of what I’ve written about here. 

My name is Joe. I am currently a freshman at the University of Richmond. I plan to major in Business (concentration undecided) and to minor in Creative Writing. I consider myself a man of diverse interests. I find just as much enjoyment in playing basketball as I do staying home to read a book. In terms of music, I'll listen to most anything, whether it's Frank Sinatra, today's top 100 hits, old school rap, or anything in between. Same goes for movies. New movies, old movies, black-and-white movies, action movies, romantic comedies, serious dramas. It doesn't matter; I'll watch them all (and often choose to). Aside from that, I'm simply excited to be at UR and to be able to share my experiences with prospective students, fellow classmates, and anyone else who may care to follow along.

Why UR?

A simple answer to the question "Why UR?" would be to say that it just felt right. Though, whereas that isn't inaccurate, I know how vague and frustrating an answer like that can be for readers. So, I will try to explain myself. The University of Richmond, as I researched it more and more, became continually more appealing. Every new thing I learned became another reason to attend. (That certainly was not the case with other schools.) I didn't have to wrestle with thoughts like, "I guess I can live with that" or "Maybe it won't seem like that when I'm actually there." In fact, even viewing the university with a critical eye, it was difficult to find something bad to say about it. That may sound like I'm simply affirming my final decision, but it's not easy to answer that question without directly showing someone what I'm trying to articulate. UR is a place that, although ripe for descriptive writing, must be experienced firsthand to truly understand. That, I believe, says more than any list of reasons ever could.