Tag Archives: Off-Campus Experiences

Planes, trains, and automobiles

19 Mar

Some of the most common questions I get on tours and around the Admissions office are regarding transportation. Trust me, I get it. Lexington seems like it is in the middle of nowhere, but it is actually a lot more connected than you think, and certainly more connected than I expected.

I am writing this post from a train on my way to New York City for an interview (wish me luck!) and this is the fourth such trip I  have made by train. While we don’t have a station in Lexington, there are three relatively close; Charlottesville, Staunton, and Lynchburg. All three are serviced by Amtrak and are all well within an hour and a half away. They can take you pretty much anywhere on the eastern seaboard for a very reasonable fare. Want to go to a concert in D.C.? No problem. Visit a friend in Philly? Sure thing. Get a job in NYC? Again, wish me luck.

As far as flying goes, Roanoke is the closest airport and it connects to most of the major airports in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest. Some students choose to drive to Richmond, about 2 1/2 hours away, where you can find generally find cheaper flights to Texas and the West Coast. When traveling abroad, most leave out of Dulles in D.C. or Charlotte, N.C.

If you prefer to drive, whether for a weekend away or to get home during breaks, Lexington is conveniently located at the crossroads of 64 and 81. Locations in Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, , Georgia, West Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey are all, generally, less than 8 hours away, with many being far closer.

So while we are definitely not a suitcase campus, there are always ways to get where you need to go!



(Valentines) Dinner

15 Feb
The Red Hen - just one of Lexington's many great eateries!

The Red Hen – just one of Lexington’s many great eateries!

It was a gorgeous Valentine’s Day as candy grams were being sent around campus to benefit organizations like Relay for Life and pink and red iced cookies were served at lunch up and down Sorority Row. With one day left (hours really) until February Break, many students took a break from Midterms in order to go on a Valentine’s date.

I spent most of the evening waitressing at The Red Hen where I saw professors, community members, tourists, faculty, law students, and undergrads all out for a romantic evening of farm-to-table deliciousness. My roommate went to The Bistro on Main and other friends headed to Brix and the Sheridan Livery to name a few other local haunts. After I got off of work I met my boyfriend at the Southern Inn for a drink and, of course, dessert.

There is never a shortage of places to eat in Lexington, and a plethora of amazing restaurants nearby. An easy 30 minute ride gets me to great Italian at Emilio’s  in Staunton. A short trip to Roanoke (45 min) ensures a belly full of Bubblecake cupcakes and easy access to Target or Barnes and Noble.  But my favorite drives by far are my Sunday afternoon pilgrimages to Marco and Luca’s Dumpling Shop in Charlottesville, only about an hour away. There is no website, but trust me its amazing.

Department Details: Geology

5 Feb


Geology at W&L ROCKS!

Geology at W&L ROCKS!

Washington and Lee University has offered courses in geology for more than two hundred years and was one of the first institutions in the United States to offer formal programs in the study of the Earth. The department currently offers a broad range of programs that include most of the important disciplines of the earth sciences. A number of alumni have made significant contributions as academic geologists, as geoscientists in the energy industry, and as environmental scientists.

Lexington is surrounded by some of the most interesting and classical geology of the entire Appalachian Mountain system. Our programs take advantage of our location. The campus lies right in the middle of the Great Valley of Virginia within easy reach of the Blue Ridge Province and the Allegheny Mountains. During the fall and winter terms, many of our courses run field trips for “hands-on” study of this superb geology. In the spring term, we offer more intense field experiences. Some of these spring courses emphasize the geology of the local area and provide familiarity with modern methods of field mapping. Other courses deal with the geology of a specific region and/or the study of the environment. Recent extended field trips have been run to such diverse areas as the Great Smoky Mountains, New England, the Colorado Plateau, Hawaii, New Zealand, the Pyrenees, the Pacific Northwest, and coastal Virginia.

Our faculty are active in a variety of research areas in which students play a central role. Current faculty research includes long-term plateau incision by escarpment breaching and capture, the modeling and growth of fault-related folds, Holocene climate variation as recorded in coral growth, weathering and water chemistry, and the growth and erosion of mountain belts.

The Geology Department is also a member of the Keck Geology Consortium, which includes 18 of the best undergraduate geology departments in the country.  This program allows our students to join undergraduates and faculty from other consortium institutions in summer research projects in such diverse locations as the Apennines of Italy, the Bahamas, the Cascades, Mongolia, Australia, Ireland, and Cyprus.

For more information on the Geology department, click here.

Simply put

13 Jan

It has become a joke in my family that wherever we travel, if I am wearing a W&L piece of clothing, someone will stop me and ask about the school. When I was in Montana during the summer I was stopped while on a hike and asked about the greek system. The person who stopped me hadn’t even gone to Washington and Lee. They simply had a friend who was in Sigma Chi. These types of events have happened to me in airports, at restaurants, and while just walking around. Most recently, this winter break, I was stopped in Key West by a family who had close friends who had attended W&L.

Now, I do not know about this for everyone, but when I see other college apparel being worn by someone I do not stop them and ask them about the school. Is it the history of our school? Is it the tradition? Honor system? Greek life? Or the surrounding natural beauty of the Blue Ridge that makes people talk to me about W&L? I believe that it is a combination of all of these. Not many schools can create an atmosphere where so many unique ingredients are so nicely combined into one setting. This rare result is Washington and Lee. There is no other place like it, and many people who did not even attend here recognize that. It intrigues people and catches their eye. It is a school that people want to know more about and are proud to say that have some connection with. Simply put, it is Washington and Lee.

Tour Guide Spotlight: Danielle Breidung ’13

14 Nov

Danielle Breidung ’13


Hometown: Waunakee, WI

Major(s)/Minor(s): Sociology/Environmental Studies & Poverty

What clubs/activities are you involved in on campus?
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), the Campus Kitchen (CKP), the Bonner Leaders Program, Outing Club, and the Generals Development Initiative (GDI)

How are you involved in the Lexington community?
I am a Bonner Leader, so my service takes me to diverse locations and organizations on a daily basis. Currently, I am teaching Spanish at Fairfield Elementary twice a week, tutoring Spanish-speaking children at Maury River Middle School also twice a week, serving as a mentor for Maury River’s Girl Talk program, and volunteering at Project Horizon. I enjoy doing shifts at Campus Kitchen on Sundays.

What are some of your other hobbies/interests?
I enjoy traveling, meeting new people, reading, cooking, and spending time with friends. Some of my interests include women’s rights in the developing world, domestic and international non-profit work, and eco-tourism’s positive and negative impact on traditional populations.

Favorite weekend activity? Walking, hiking, and/or biking on one of the local trails

Favorite thing about Lexington? It is a small, quaint community where one can truly make a difference, make long-lasting connections, and feel safe regardless of the time of day, not to mention the beautiful natural landscape, i.e. MOUNTAINS!

What’s your favorite W&L memory?
Last year, at the end of spring term, one of my best friends at W&L and I were sitting on the colonnade while we should have been packing and cleaning our rooms. It was about 12 a.m., and we were simply enjoying the peace and quiet, the stars overhead, and the amazing view from the steps of Washington Hall while reminiscing about all of the fun things that had occurred during our first-years in Lexington.

What’s the best encounter you’ve had with a faculty or staff member?
Last fall two other W&L students and I were studying abroad and conducting research in the Amazon. While there we had the opportunity to travel with three W&L faculty to Barcelos to gain familiarity with the communities in which we would be working throughout our experience in Brazil. This encounter was remarkable due to the fact that, there we were in the middle of the Amazon, and despite all of our differences, the one thing that brought us all together – professors and students alike- apart from being affiliated with W&L, was a passion for learning more about social and environmental justice in one of the world’s most breathtaking locations.


SCUBA Diving

14 Nov

Peering over the edge of the pool, my mind was racing. “Why are you doing this? You’re not a strong swimmer. You’re not even that comfortable around water. Why are you doing this?” I was perched on the edge of our W&L pool, getting used to the feel of a mask and flippers, not to mention a giant oxygen tank hanging on my back. Spring term of my freshman year I had lucked into enrolling in the popular PE Scuba Diving class, and was about to take the plunge.

The two week class turned out to be one of my favorites I’ve taken at Washington & Lee. Our first weekend was spent in the W&L pool, adjusting to the awkward tanks and flippers as we practiced rescue breaths and gradual ascents, surrounded by stark white tile. Although the days in the pool left me feeling a bit nervous and uneasy, that disappeared the next weekend as soon as we splashed into Lake Rawlings, a man-made lake only a few hours away. Almost as soon as we reached the platforms at 20 and 30 feet we were surrounded by schools of curious fish, so close we could almost touch them before they darted away. Fascinated I watched the swarm of bubbles streaming out as I cleared my mask and felt my ears pop with the increased pressure. I was too entranced to worry about being underwater; the same skills we’d practiced in the pool a week before seemed like second nature. With our certifications complete we explored the lake’s cars, “computer garden,” basketball court, and myriad of other sunken sights. The experience was unbelievable, and I can’t wait for my next opportunity to dive! Just one more reason to love the PE programs here at W&L.

Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane

29 Oct

It started out as an inside joke among my fellow Resident Advisers: could there be any bigger, better, or crazier hall program than skydiving?  On our slim budgets the most exciting hall programs most of us had hosted were pizza parties and fitness classes. The idea of taking our halls of freshmen and upperclassmen skydiving seemed hilariously impossible. But somehow over the last year word of our joke had trickled up to the Student Affairs office, and they decided to make it happen! Four of my upperclassmen residents had the chance to go skydiving in nearby Orange, VA for half price this Saturday, subsidized by the school.

Despite Hurricane Sandy sweeping up the coast, in Orange the skies were clear, with no sign of the storm besides a cool breeze. As the plane climbed one of the guides asked me if I was nervous. When I answered “not yet,” he told me to check my wrist altimeter for how high we were. When I answered him, “About 4,000 feet,” he laughed and said, “Well we’re only about half way.” That’s when the nerves kicked in. As we shuffled to the open door and stood looking over the edge it seemed impossibly surreal: that patchwork blanket of fields dotted with tiny cotton clouds certainly couldn’t be the ground. That feeling was lost in a sudden rush of air as my tandem partner and I stepped into the open sky. Free-falling I felt too much adrenaline to be scared at all, and my exhilarated yells were lost in the roar of air that pulled at my hands and face. All too soon there was a sudden yank on my shoulders, and the parachute billowed open above us. Hanging almost still in midair after such a rush was scarier than jumping out of the plane to begin with, and I suddenly wanted to get to the ground as soon as possible. The guide took my mind off things with a series of acrobatic spins, and the slow descent became a dizzying flurry of tricks as he maneuvered the chute over our heads. With a gentle thump we reached the ground again, where my residents and I giggled for the next hour as the adrenaline wore off. We’ve been talking about the experience non-stop for the last few days.

It was amazing! Thank you W&L for giving me yet another unforgettable college experience. (And we can even say we skydived in a hurricane!…at least the  very edge of one.)


Naturalized Woman Cast

18 Oct


Naturalized Woman cast and crew, with playwright Professor Domnica Radulescu and director Professor Kimberly Jew

Students Perform W&L Professor’s Play Off-Off-Broadway

18 Oct

Over Reading Days, I travelled to New York City to perform in Naturalized Woman, a play about a Romanian refugee woman getting naturalized in America. Professor Domnica Radulescu, French professor and head of the Medieval and Renaissance Studies department, wrote the play based on her own escape from Ceaucescu’s dictatorship. Her play was one of twenty selected from 240 submissions to show at the Thespis Theater Festival at the off-off-Broadway Cabrini Theater. I played “Nina,” whom Professor Radulescu based on herself, and it was an incredible acting experience to work so closely with the playwright and learn about her fascinating life. Our three performances were well-received, and we had lots of New York-area W&L alums in the audience. The New York alum association hosted us at post-show cast party. My favorite part of the trip was our visit to a theater class at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. The class, comprised of recent immigrants and first generation Americans, had read  and strongly identified with Nina’s journey. They were very excited to ask us questions and see us perform scenes. It was a privilege to perform for such an enthusiastic audience.

Washington Term

24 Sep

It may only be the first full week of fall, but believe it or not, it’s already time to start considering Spring Term opportunities. This Thursday evening, Professor Connelly will host an information session for his six-week Spring Term program, Washington Term (also known as “Wash Term”). During their six weeks in our nation’s capital, sixteen W&L students will work full-time Mondays through Thursdays at their internships, which can range from Capitol Hill to think tanks to publications like Politico. On Fridays, Professor Connelly travels to the District to lead class in the morning, followed by a special guest lecture or tour in the afternoon. The workload is demanding as you learn to balance your internship with the reading and term paper writing required for this six-credit Politics course. I participated in the Washington Term Program my sophomore year and loved it! It was hands down one of my most enriching experiences at W&L thus far, and I hope plenty of students will attend Thursday night’s session to learn more about this incredible opportunity!