What's the best part about a new place, a new school or a new home? Firsts.
Many firsts will come my way in the next few weeks as I immerse myself in the Darden and Charlottesville community. My first encounter with some of my future classmates came last night when a bunch of us Darden incoming first year students decided to meet up for a pre-Darden get-together. Thanks to Facebook, the turnout was pretty good! Around 15 of us met at Basil restaurant at The Corner near downtown Charlottesville for dinner and drinks. International diversity was quite well represented with people coming from Brazil, Colombia, Nepal, India, Dubai, Taiwan, Philippines (yours truly) and of course, the US (San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Hawaii). Conversation was rich and interesting, with people getting to know each other and starting new bonds. Everyone had very interesting backgrounds and stories to tell--from engineers and consultants to journalists. I was the only boring accountant around!
We went to our first bar experience at Charlottesville where I had my first 'power hour'--a shot game where everyone is supposed to drink one shot of beer every time the music changed. I figured it won't be too difficult since songs changed every four or five minutes. Surprise, surprise: the bar played 1-2 minute edited songs! So yes, I bailed on that challenge. I don't like beer anyway.
After a few hours, we went to a different bar with better cocktails (those I can take). We played this strange game of shooting small sacks of sand into a hole, a long distance away. I guess it's supposed to test how good you can aim with a few bottles of alcohol in your bloodstream. I won twice :)
The rest of the night was spent exchanging stories over drinks and dancing. It's quite easy to be comfortable with people you find many commonalities with--whether a career objective, a job history, a dream vacation, or a point of view. I guess there's really truth to what all Admissions officers advised us about choosing schools--it's all about fit. When the night was over, it felt like we weren't strangers at all.
Tomorrow we're scheduled for some barbecue cookout at someone's place. Another first I'm looking forward to.