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Life in Charlottesville

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Fun @ Darden

Darden and Charlottesville offer a plethora events and entertainment opportunities that students always find time to participate in, despite the busy Darden schedule.  Some are organized by the school or by your fellow students, and some you’ll discover with your friends or family as you explore Charlottesville:


1. Int’l food festival: every year Darden students organize an international food festival, featuring dishes from dozens of countries and cultures around the world. The Israeli students at Darden typically participate, offering anywhere from homemade hummus and falafel to modern Israeli fusion food.


2. Darden Follies: Darden’s comedy show in the Spring semester, featuring student-performed comedy skits, musical parodies about the MBA experience and more.


3. Foxfield: a longstanding Charlottesville tradition that takes place twice a year, Foxfield Horse Races attract tens of thousands of people who don their finest weekend attire and eat and drink all day. Rumors have it there are horses racing as well. Darden has a large tent every year where students enjoy the festive atmosphere with food and drinks.


4. Virginia Sports: Football, Basketball, and much more: The University of Virginia (UVA) has a long tradition of sports. Among them two that stand out are UVA Football and Basketball. During home football games on Saturdays, Darden students often attend the Darden tailgate (with food and drinks often sponsored by recruiters), and then head into the stadium to watch the game. The Virginia basketball games are also often attended by Darden students. Other events include track and field tournaments and much more. Students also engage in sports, for example in various pick-up basketball games in one of the numerous gyms, weekend soccer, softball, and flag-football games, and the Darden Cup – an ongoing Darden competition where Darden sections play each other in various sports.  Many students also play golf together on the weekend, and there are even those that play polo.


5. Fitness opportunities: UVA  is known as one of the universities with the most athletic facilities per student, and Darden students often run into each other in one of the various gyms.


6. Downtown Mall: the picturesque open mall in downtown Charlottesville offers some of the best restaurants, bars, and lounges in the area.  Frequented by Charlottesville’s graduate students, young professionals, and more, the Downtown Mall is where you’ll often go to enjoy a nice dinner, a good cocktail, or a cappuccino in one of the trendy coffee shops.


7. Wineries: Virginia has a multitude of wineries that offer wine tastings in a quaint environment. There are numerous wine tasting tours organized by students on weekends, and the school often holds various large events in the wineries.


8. The Corner: the hub of the University, the corner is where most of the undergraduate students hang out. This is where you’ll go to grab a cold beer or a casual lunch or dinner.


9. House Parties: Darden students are generally known for their social disposition.  On a typical weekend there might be a variety of parties at your fellow students apartments and houses, ranging from dinner parties, to wine and cheese tastings, to just plain ol’ big house parties.


10. Live Music: Charlottesville is home to the famous Dave Matthews Band and various other music group. It has a number of live music venues where you can listen to anywhere from alternative and rock music, to jazz, to counrty. There is an outdoor music festival during the warm months called Friday’s After 5, where various bands play every Friday afternoon in an open arena, and various bands stopin Charlottesville while on tour to perform in the UVA stadium. Bands that recently performed in C’ville include The Rolling Stones, U2, The Pixies, and others. For classical music lovers, UVA has a music orchestra with a number of concert series, and there’s also an annual chamber music festival in C’ville attracting top performers from around the world.


11. Hiking and outdoors: Central Virginia boasts a variety of exceptional outdoors activities. From hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains to kayaking in the local rivers and more. Many students go on a 3 day hiking trip right before the start of the school year. Other student trips in recent years included category 5 whitewater rafting trip in the Gauley river, water tubing along the Charles River, and more.

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Jewish and Israeli Life

As an Israeli student traveling 6,000 miles from home to go to school, you naturally want to make a good choice, not just about the quality of the school, but also the quality of life in the surrounding town. Many Israelis are very not very familiar with areas outside of major metropolitan areas.

Charlottesville is considered a small town, with a population of 45,000  (or about 100,000 with neighboring towns). However, it’s a vibrant cosmopolitan town, with an affluent and highly educated population, an incredible variety of fine dining options and entertainment venues, and over the years has been home to notable residents like Author John Grisham, Actress Sissy Spacek, musician Dave Matthews, and others.  Also,  it is said actor Tom Cruise maintains a vacation home in Charlottesville. Charlottesville is also a very diverse place, with students, faculty, and residents hailing from all corners or the globe and the US. Part of this diversity includes a warm Jewish and Israeli community.


The following are some organizations and Jewish communities in C’ville:


Darden Jewish Students Association (DJSA): serves to further awareness of Jewish Culture, tradition and history within the Darden community through educational and social avenues. The DJSA cultivates and supports a friendly community for students to congregate, converse, and network. As a social organization, membership is open to all students, not just those who practice a religious faith. Social activities are planned for both club members and Darden as a whole. Notable events in recent years included Rosh HaShanah dinner, Yom Kippur break-the-fast meal, Darden Seder, Hanuka celebration at Café ‘67, and more.


Israeli Students in other UVA Schools: aside from other Darden Israeli students and faculty who may be at Darden at any given year, Israeli Darden students often get to know other Israeli students from the Law, Sciences, Undergraduate, and other programs at UVA.


Congregation Beth Israel: offers a synagogue (Reform and Conservative), and Jewish School. Israeli and Jewish students at Darden often attend services around the high holidays, and several partners of Israeli Darden students have worked at the Hebrew School while their significant others were at Darden. http://www.cbicville.org/


Hoos for Israel: “Hoos for Israel is a bi-partisan group that seeks to increase awareness of and support for a strong US-Israel relationship based on shared democratic values. Students run every aspect of the club and hold biweekly meetings at which we plan a wide variety of events, including lectures by renowned professors, documentary showings, forum discussions with experts on the Middle East, lobbying trips, and educational events highlighting aspects of Israeli culture. We have a great time doing it and newcomers will feel involved right away!”


UVA Chabad:  “Chabad House at UVA is a “home away from home” to hundreds of college students.  Providing a warm, open, non-judemental, Jewish family atmosphere makes our niche in Charlottesville so unique.  Whether it’s our crowded Shabbat Dinners, or a personal visit during our families weeknight dinner hour, our doors are always open. Chabad House is here to foster a love of Judaism in the students and the greater Charlottesville community.  To encourage a love and connection to the Jewish people, the Torah, and the land of Israel.  Regardless of background or affiliation, Chabad accepts all Jews as equals and strives to make all who walk inside feel welcome.  There are no members or membership fees. http://www.chabadofcharlottesville.org

UVA Hillel: “University of Virginia Hillel is the catalyst for Jewish life at the University. Hillel offers the approximately 1,800 Jewish undergraduate and graduate students at UVa the means to explore and celebrate their Jewish identity in a dynamic and comfortable environment. Each year, Hillel connects students to their community, their peers and their heritage through an array of social, cultural, and community service programs. Hillel does not have members; all students are welcome to participate in all Hillel activities.” http://www.uvahillel.org


Israeli and Kosher Food: some stores in Charlottesville carry Israeli items including hummus, wine, coffee and tea, chocolate, and even Bamba. Around Jewish holidays like passover you can easily find items like Matzoh and more, in all major supermarkets. Kosher observers can find certified items in some of the local supermarkets year-round.

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Spouses and Family


Moving with your spouse and family to Charlottesville
More than one third of Darden students move with their families from wherever they were living previously, and arrive to Charlottesville with their spouses. So what does a person do while their spouse is at school from early morning till late at night? The Darden School is well aware of this, and provides many resources, support and assistance in keeping spouses busy.

Spouse Opportunities:


While in a small town, employment opportunities are fewer than in a large metropolitan city, it is important for Israelis to understand that without a proper spouse work permit (which is not provided under the standard F-1 student visa), the spouse can not work anyway, and therefore the variety of job opportunities –whether in a large city or a small town — are not applicable to the spouse of a student on a standard visa (i.e. in order for the spouse to work, he or she will need to have a company sponsor their work permit, regardless of their husband or wife’s student visa). Please visit the immigration section for more information on this topic.


UVA Work Opportunities: For those spouses who are allowed to work legally in the US, employment opportunities are often available within the school departments such as the admissions office, career services and other departments. While many of these roles are a departure from the previous career held by the spouse, they still offer interesting opportunities to learn about a different occupation, and get involved with the school life. Darden also has a career-message board where various companies around town will post job opportunities that are available. Through the Darden network of faculty, staff, and alumni who graduated from Darden and remain to live in Charlottesville, many spouses have found work opportunities within the community.


Jewish Community Work Opportunities: various spouses of Israeli students have found jobs within the local Jewish communities and schools. We encourage you contact us for more information.


Company Relocation Opportunities: there could many opportunities for relocation in the area if your spouse currently works for an Israeli or multinational company. Once you’re decided to pursue an MBA your spouse could look at opportunities within their current companies.


DC Work Opportunities: Washington DC is only two hours away from Charlottesville and has a variety of industries including telecom, IT, security, non-profit,  and more. Many American spouses from the DC  area will often work in DC during the week and spend their weekends in Charlottesville with their spouse. While Israeli students and spouses often  prefer to live, study, and work in the same town — due to all the complexities involved in moving from another country to begin with — this may still be a suitable option for some.


Community involvement
The Darden Partners Association (DPA) is an organization that brings together the spouses of students who are currently enrolled at Darden, and arranges for a wide variety of activities. The DPA brings together a group of spouses of students from around the world and engages them in meaningful activities that involve both the school and the community. Many of the Darden school-wide events are organized and run by the DPA. For further information please visit the DPA website (http://web2.darden.virginia.edu/student/html/standard.aspx?menu_id=48&id=78) and we would be happy to introduce you to people currently involved with the DPA so you can hear their experiences.

Additionally, Charlottesville offers a wide range of community involvement opportunities. Some of our Israeli alumni spouses got involved in the Jewish community, whether it was teaching Hebrew or participating in community activities. Other alumni spouses choose to volunteer in the many non-profit organizations that are based in Charlottesville.


Back to school
Several spouses chose to enroll in school as well, while their spouses were attending Darden. While this presents both a time constraint, logistical, and often a financial burden on the couple, it is certainly a viable option. The following universities are located in the area:
•    University of Virginia (www.virginia.edu) offers a wealth of academic programs and advanced degrees in one of the best universities in the United States.
•    Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond (approx 1 hour drive) (www.vcu.edu)
•    Georgetown University – Washington DC (approx 2 hour drive)


Just enjoy Charlottesville!
There is one additional option always available in conjunction with some of the other options above – and that is simply to take some time off and enjoy Charlottesville! You will probably NEVER have another opportunity like this to take some time off and devote it to yourself and your family. Charlottesville is an easy place to get around, enjoy the outdoors, and explore the many cultural avenues that this rich and diverse university town offers. Also, located 2 hours drive from Washington DC, a trip to the nation’s capital offers even greater sources of interest.

We encourage you to speak with some of our spouses who spent two wonderful years with us in Charlottesville. For more information please contact us and we will put you in touch with Israeli spouses.


Family and Children: there are a number of great daycare centers and schools in Charlottesville, including a Jewish school. Also, Charlottesville is a great place to raise children, with activities and attractions year-round, in a peaceful and beautiful setting. If you are moving to C’ville with children feel free to contact us and we’d happy to put you in touch with alumni who can provide more information.

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Please contact us at: info@dardenisrael.com