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Old 01-11-2012, 10:38 AM
 
5 posts, read 4,154 times
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Default How not to be "that" student.

Hey all,

I'm considering a move to Nashville to attend graduate school at Vandy. From everything I've read, Nashville seems like a cool city, and one I could definitely see myself living in. I'd gladly take recommendations for student-centered stuff (where to live with a commute to Vandy in mind, good study places, coffee houses and bars), but I'm looking for more local advice, too.

See, I grew up in a place with somewhat of a town/gown conflict. Every fall, there was a whole new crop of students that I would alternately feel sorry for (because they missed out on so much that was cool about my hometown by sticking close to the University) and feel frustrated with (as they didn't have the basic manners/street sense/understanding of local customs that we expected them to have). It would break my heart to turn into one of those students, clueless about local customs and never really getting a sense of what's real and great about my new city.

So I want to ask you Nashvillers (Nashvillians? Nashvilleites?): How can I avoid making you crazy? What habits/mistakes do students make that are frustrating to locals? What things to do/see/eat/experience, in your opinion, are most overlooked by new residents? How can I best make friends outside the University?

If it helps, I'm in my early 30s, single, kinda "hipster" I guess (whatever that even means anymore), really interested in arts and cultural events and all kinds of music and food. I'd be moving from Chicago, so I'm used to a big, busy, trafficy city. Bonus points if you can direct me to a place I'd be able to catch the Bears on TV reliably!
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Old 01-11-2012, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Hendersonville, TN
2,732 posts, read 3,127,132 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilyrobot View Post
I'd gladly take recommendations for student-centered stuff (where to live with a commute to Vandy in mind, good study places, coffee houses and bars), but I'm looking for more local advice, too.
First, welcome to the forum!

It would help some to know what your rental budget is because the area around Vandy is generally on the high side because it is such a desireable part of town. That said, I'll toss out a few popular areas for students in the area...first is the Hillsboro Village area which is within walking distance to Vandy's campus. It's a cool enclave of independent shops and restaurants, including Fido/Bongo Java coffee shop that is very popular with Vandy and Belmont students. There are also a number of small bungalow-style homes/duplexes and a few apartment complexes in this area for rent.

Slightly further out (ie-not within walking distance) is the newly-hip area of 12South. It is actually closer to Belmont University. Again, lots of renovation going on in this area and it can be considered a "transition neighborhood" meaning while things are on the upswing, there are still some areas that are sketchy and crime could be a concern in some areas. That said, 12South is becoming a very popular hipster neighborhood and has lots of independent shops and restaurants too. This area is an easy commute to Vandy and you could probably even commute by bike. This area also has lots of homes/duplexes but I can't think of more than 1 apartment complex off the top of my head...then again, I'm not in this part of town very often.

East Nashville is a very artsy/hipster/musically-inclined part of town that you definitely would enjoy visiting, but it isn't especially close to the University. It would be around 15-20 minutes of a commute probably, but might be worth it once you visit the area. Again, a transition neighborhood like 12South, but it is larger. The 5 Points area is quite literally the hub of East Nashville with lots of trendy and hipster restaurants and bars and a few stores. Further out, you'll find my favorite watering hole in town: The Family Wash. You'll also find the artsy independent streak all over this area of town in the neighborhoods themselves. Most East Nashvillians have a real pride in their community and tend to have a little deeper commitment to their part of town than other areas of town (with more transient residents). Again, lots of bungalows, duplexes around...a few townhomes, but not a lot of traditional apartment complexes that I would want to live at anyways.

Not necessarily "artsy" but very convenient to Vandy would be Green Hills. It's one of Nashville's more upscale communities, but it offers lots of shopping, conveniences, and rentals. It would also be an easy car commute to Vandy...probably 10 minutes depending on the notoriously bad Green Hills traffic.

Likewise, Sylvan Park is a little further out on the West side of town but is a popular place for young professionals to settle. It's got a little more hipster vibe than Green Hills but is a little further out.

Quote:
See, I grew up in a place with somewhat of a town/gown conflict. Every fall, there was a whole new crop of students that I would alternately feel sorry for (because they missed out on so much that was cool about my hometown by sticking close to the University) and feel frustrated with (as they didn't have the basic manners/street sense/understanding of local customs that we expected them to have). It would break my heart to turn into one of those students, clueless about local customs and never really getting a sense of what's real and great about my new city.
Nashville is a good melting pot of people from all parts of the country so I don't really notice when someone's not from here. But I agree that it is criminal when people visit/live here for awhile and don't get out and test the waters. Same goes for any city for that matter.

As far as local customs, I'd just tell a new resident to be polite and patient. I think southern hospitality is alive and well here. Many of us like to strike up conversations with total strangers during shared experiences (like waiting in line, etc), but not in a weird way. Every town I've visited claims they have the worst traffic and/or drivers, and Nashville is no different. I don't think our traffic is that bad, but we do have some interesting driving techniques in play. But basically, I'd just advise you to be cool, be polite, and you'll fit right in.

Quote:
So I want to ask you Nashvillers (Nashvillians? Nashvilleites?): How can I avoid making you crazy? What habits/mistakes do students make that are frustrating to locals? What things to do/see/eat/experience, in your opinion, are most overlooked by new residents? How can I best make friends outside the University?
We're Nashvillians. Tennesseans as well. I answered the first question above. But as far as the do/see/eat/experience...man, I could write about it for an hour. Basically, I'd advise you to check the forum for visitor/tourist posts to get an idea. Obviously there's the weekend in Nashville tour of things to do and see and eat, then there's the extended stay/what the locals do tour. But you'll find both types of suggestions on the forum and if you don't, let us know and we can give out more specifics as to what you're interested in.

As far as making friends, you'll probably do just fine at Vandy, but obviously there are bars all around town. Lots of people get involved in churches here...we're the "buckle of the Bible Belt" and have hundreds if not thousands of churches in the area of all different faiths and persuasions. In fact, some on the forum have suggested that Nashvillians ask newcomers about their religious persuasion as a way of breaking the ice. There's nothing judgemental or ugly about it, though. That's not been my experience, but I'm sure it does happen. Likewise if you're coming here later this year, you might want to get involved in the local campaign HQ of whichever presidential candidate you support. Finally, ther are lots of volunteer opportunities at various civic organizations or nonprofits, including museums, art galleries, etc.

Quote:
I'd be moving from Chicago, so I'm used to a big, busy, trafficy city. Bonus points if you can direct me to a place I'd be able to catch the Bears on TV reliably!
You'll probably find that Nashville has a fairly big Bears following. The Bears have a lot of Vandy grads on the team so a lot of us Vandy fans continue to follow them at the pro level. Sam's Sports Bar in Hillsboro Village has all the games on TV each Sunday. I wouldn't call it a "Bears Bar" but I am sure there are a couple of those around too.

Nashville is not a big city. I think a lot of outsiders come in expecting a little Chicago or New York. It isn't. We've got our own pace, our own size, and our own attitude. That can disappoint people. But as long as you realize that we've got our own unique identity, then you should be fine.

Let us know if you have any more questions!
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:19 PM
 
5 posts, read 4,154 times
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Wow thanks for the quick and through reply! I'm glad to know I might find fellow Bears fans, and it never would have occurred to me to seek out volunteer opportunities with a political campaign (coming from one of the bluest of blue counties with (until recently) a mayor-for-life tradition, I tend to forget that elections can be, you know, competitive).

I won't really know about budget stuff for a while--I'll be living on a stipend, if admitted to Vandy, and I have a vague ballpark (but no hard numbers) about that just yet. I'll be visiting the city and the campus sometime in February, and I'll be sure to plan my visit with the great advice from this forum, and hopefully get a sense of better/more specific questions and concerns.

Polite and patient I can do! This is all great news.
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Old 01-11-2012, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Hendersonville, TN
2,732 posts, read 3,127,132 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilyrobot View Post
Wow thanks for the quick and through reply! I'm glad to know I might find fellow Bears fans, and it never would have occurred to me to seek out volunteer opportunities with a political campaign (coming from one of the bluest of blue counties with (until recently) a mayor-for-life tradition, I tend to forget that elections can be, you know, competitive).
Memphis has the same unsavory type of political tradition like Chicago does, but Nashville definitely does not. Our local politics are refreshingly free of blatant nepotism. I mean, they're politicians...they're all a little shady...but no Daly clans here in Nashville.

Nashville/Davidson County is a traditional Democratic stronghold. Its congressional district has been Democratic since Reconstruction ended. Additionally, the mayor's office (while technically non-partisan) has been held by a Democrat for as long as I can remember (early 1980s). Still, a "Nashville Democrat" may not be quite as liberal as a "Chicago Democrat".

The halo counties around Nashville are generally more conservative and tend to be moderately to solidly/deepest darkest blood red Republican. Likewise, the state has become fairly red overall with the exception of Nashville and Memphis. The governor is Republican and the state legislature just began its second session with a Republican majority in both houses since Reconstruction. All of that to say, you'll find a good back-and-forth here in the Mid State. It is more politically diverse than a diehard blue area like Chicago.

Quote:
I won't really know about budget stuff for a while--I'll be living on a stipend, if admitted to Vandy, and I have a vague ballpark (but no hard numbers) about that just yet. I'll be visiting the city and the campus sometime in February, and I'll be sure to plan my visit with the great advice from this forum, and hopefully get a sense of better/more specific questions and concerns.
Cool. Well, just know that even in higher-end areas of town you may still be able to catch a good deal. Personally, I would let the budget determine where I live because it is fairly easy to get from one part of town to another here. So even though you may live in a more affordable suburb like Bellevue, you're only 35 minutes to Vanderbilt during rush hour...and maybe 20 minutes during non-rush hour (for entertainment/bar hopping, etc).

One thing I should also tell you is that Nashville has a very lackluster public transportation system. We have busses, but that's about it. No subway, no el, there is a commuter rail line that runs from downtown to Wilson County in the east, but it wouldn't really be that convenient for you at Vandy. Everyone drives here. So if driving is not your thing, I'd defnitely look at areas of town where you could ride a bike to Vandy...and the good news is that part of town is more bike-friendly than other parts of town.

Quote:
Polite and patient I can do! This is all great news.
We like to hear that!
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Old 01-11-2012, 03:49 PM
 
Location: Brentwood, Tennessee
10,662 posts, read 8,085,242 times
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While Nashville does have a ton of colleges and universities, it's not the kind of place where students have that much of an effect on the overall atmosphere. It has its own identity, and it's not as if every fall we think, "Oh no, here come the students again!"

There are enough tourists and corporate transplants that finding a Nashville native is difficult nowadays.

The fact that you're asking this question lets me know you're not a jerk, so I think you'll fit in just fine. And there are some very cool things to do around here, so it's good to know you'll be taking advantage of them.

I was a grad student at Vanderbilt, and you meet people from all over.
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Old 01-11-2012, 06:03 PM
 
1,637 posts, read 3,017,447 times
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[quote=emilyrobot;22499163]Wow thanks for the quick and through reply! I'm glad to know I might find fellow Bears fans, and it never would have occurred to me to seek out volunteer opportunities with a political campaign (coming from one of the bluest of blue counties with (until recently) a mayor-for-life tradition, I tend to forget that elections can be, you know, competitive).

I grew up in Northwest Indiana, and have lived in various places in Northern Illinois. Bear fan/Cub fan here. I think you'll like it here. Winters are easy in comparison.
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Old 01-11-2012, 06:36 PM
 
Location: Music City, USA
4,900 posts, read 4,221,013 times
Reputation: 4338
Quote:
Originally Posted by emilyrobot View Post
Hey all,

I'm considering a move to Nashville to attend graduate school at Vandy. From everything I've read, Nashville seems like a cool city, and one I could definitely see myself living in. I'd gladly take recommendations for student-centered stuff (where to live with a commute to Vandy in mind, good study places, coffee houses and bars), but I'm looking for more local advice, too.

See, I grew up in a place with somewhat of a town/gown conflict. Every fall, there was a whole new crop of students that I would alternately feel sorry for (because they missed out on so much that was cool about my hometown by sticking close to the University) and feel frustrated with (as they didn't have the basic manners/street sense/understanding of local customs that we expected them to have). It would break my heart to turn into one of those students, clueless about local customs and never really getting a sense of what's real and great about my new city.

So I want to ask you Nashvillers (Nashvillians? Nashvilleites?): How can I avoid making you crazy? What habits/mistakes do students make that are frustrating to locals? What things to do/see/eat/experience, in your opinion, are most overlooked by new residents? How can I best make friends outside the University?

If it helps, I'm in my early 30s, single, kinda "hipster" I guess (whatever that even means anymore), really interested in arts and cultural events and all kinds of music and food. I'd be moving from Chicago, so I'm used to a big, busy, trafficy city. Bonus points if you can direct me to a place I'd be able to catch the Bears on TV reliably!
Don beautifully covered everything....the only neighborhoods he left off that I would mention for the trendy crowd would be The Gulch (which is an up and coming urban community, which is still in the baby stages, adjacent to downtown) and Germantown (a rather small, but cute area just to the north of downtown). I'm not sure what you are thinking about as far as living options go...but those areas are at least worth considering.

Since you have an idea of what college students typically miss out on, I would definitely encourage you to explore the areas that Don mentioned...thoroughly. See what you like.

How can you avoid making us crazy? Well...with so many transplants here, that would probably be difficult for most of us to notice! Nashville has a lot of college students...it's sort of a college city...not a college town. But I don't think that there is some sort of divide between the locals and the citizens. I think you would be fine just so long as you don't get stuck in the same habits (same hangouts and such) and not taking full advantage of what the area has to offer.

Tell us a little more about your interests...about what you do for fun. What you like to do. Favorite types of restaurants and such.


As for Da Bears...I can't help you there...but I know there are a fair number of Chicagoans living here, so I don't think it would be overly difficult to find sports bars or hangouts with a friendly crowd for you.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:57 PM
 
Location: Bellevue
401 posts, read 371,455 times
Reputation: 175
[quote=artemis;22503446]
Quote:
Originally Posted by emilyrobot View Post
Wow thanks for the quick and through reply! I'm glad to know I might find fellow Bears fans, and it never would have occurred to me to seek out volunteer opportunities with a political campaign (coming from one of the bluest of blue counties with (until recently) a mayor-for-life tradition, I tend to forget that elections can be, you know, competitive).

I grew up in Northwest Indiana, and have lived in various places in Northern Illinois. Bear fan/Cub fan here. I think you'll like it here. Winters are easy in comparison.
Because of the Titans finish, it appears the Bears will be returning to LP Field next fall. It's never too early to plan on getting tickets. 2011 was the first year where a Bear fan would have a good chance of getting some tickets.

You will also find some Packer fans here.
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Old 01-12-2012, 03:30 PM
 
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First of all, thanks everyone for your responses!

Don, I appreciate the political rundown! That's really helpful, and I think it might be nice to live somewhere where people don't laugh outright at the idea of "good government". I do plan to switch my registration to vote down to Nashville (if that's indeed where I end up living). Any local political issues I should be aware of?

Quote:
One thing I should also tell you is that Nashville has a very lackluster public transportation system. We have busses, but that's about it. No subway, no el, there is a commuter rail line that runs from downtown to Wilson County in the east, but it wouldn't really be that convenient for you at Vandy. Everyone drives here. So if driving is not your thing, I'd defnitely look at areas of town where you could ride a bike to Vandy...and the good news is that part of town is more bike-friendly than other parts of town.
I do have a car (which unfortunately means I have a car payment). I hear the parking at Vandy is a nightmare, how true is that? I don't mind driving, really, but it would be nice to have options for both the daily commute and (especially) for going out (drinking and driving don't mix!). About the buses, do they run pretty late and reliably? As far as biking goes, how is the terrain in Nashville--if it's anything other than midwestern flat, I'm going to need to give my calves time to adjust and/or get a bike with gears

Wmsn4Life, I promise I'm not a jerk! Thanks for the reassurance!

Quote:
I grew up in Northwest Indiana, and have lived in various places in Northern Illinois. Bear fan/Cub fan here. I think you'll like it here. Winters are easy in comparison.
artemis, hey former-maybe-future-neighbor! I'm looking forward to the easier winter, for sure. How about the summers? Will I wilt? Mostly I'm looking forward to springs and falls that last more that a week or two :P

Quote:
Tell us a little more about your interests...about what you do for fun. What you like to do. Favorite types of restaurants and such.
Nashvols, I like a little bit of everything! I really like B/artsy/indie movies (I think the Belcourt and I will be best friends) but not the exclusion of big blockbuster movies (esp. those featuring super heroes). At home, if I go out to see music, it's usually punk, metal or experimental stuff, but I like jazz and country, too (esp. bluegrass, alt-country and old timey country). I hear Nashville has a great music scene, for all kinds of music, so I'm looking forward to that.

I like museums--big ones featuring art, history or science, but also the little, quirkier kind. And historical monuments and tours (I *really* love the Sun Records Studio tour I did in Memphis many years ago, for example, and even in Chicago, I occasionally do semi-touisty things like architecture tours).

I'm not what you'd call real "outdoorsey", but I'm developing an appreciation for national parks and pretty sceenery (so long as it doesn't involve camping). I'm real excited about the Natchez Trace, and I hope I'll get to drive some or all of it at some point. Local vistas/picnic grounds/scenic day trips would be good to know about.

I like all kinds of restaurants, and I'm really spoiled by the ethnic food diversity in Chicago. Recommendations for Indian, Ethiopian, Thai and Middle Eastern would be greatly appreciated!

Quote:
Because of the Titans finish, it appears the Bears will be returning to LP Field next fall. It's never too early to plan on getting tickets. 2011 was the first year where a Bear fan would have a good chance of getting some tickets.
GWoodle, that's awesome news! I knew the Bears were scheduled to play the Titans, but I didn't realize it would be in Nashville. Any tips for getting tickets? Do single game tickets often sell out? Are there a lot of season ticket holders willing to sell their seats at this point, or would the Cutler/Bennett Vandy connection make tickets to that game hard to come by?

Thanks, again, to everyone who'd replied. The more I look into this, the more exciting a move to Nashville seems!
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Old 01-13-2012, 08:05 AM
 
Location: Hendersonville, TN
2,732 posts, read 3,127,132 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilyrobot View Post
Don, I appreciate the political rundown! That's really helpful, and I think it might be nice to live somewhere where people don't laugh outright at the idea of "good government". I do plan to switch my registration to vote down to Nashville (if that's indeed where I end up living). Any local political issues I should be aware of?
Anytime. Our state legislature has chosen some interesting topics to ram through the past few years..."Guns in Bars" (allowing gun owners with a license to carry a concealed weapon to do so in bars/restaurants that serve alcohol), "Don't Say Gay" (limiting the discussion of homosexuality in schools), stripping the TEA/teacher's union of their negotiating rights with local school systems, and a few other hot-button generally conservative issues that get people talking and riled up on both sides. Since this year is an election year, most everyone thinks the rhetoric will be toned down. For liberals like myself, it makes us scratch our heads every now and then.

Quote:
I do have a car (which unfortunately means I have a car payment). I hear the parking at Vandy is a nightmare, how true is that?
I have heard that as well and think parking there is a concern. I wouldn't go so far as to say "nightmare", but I've heard Vandy students and employees complain about parking for a number of years.

Quote:
I don't mind driving, really, but it would be nice to have options for both the daily commute and (especially) for going out (drinking and driving don't mix!). About the buses, do they run pretty late and reliably? As far as biking goes, how is the terrain in Nashville--if it's anything other than midwestern flat, I'm going to need to give my calves time to adjust and/or get a bike with gears
I don't know how late busses run or how reliable they are. I think they're generally safe and reliable, though.

Nashville is pretty hilly. Lots of low rolling hills...definitely not midwestern flat. That said, you'll find a lot of bikers around the Vandy/West End area but it might take you a few weeks to get into biking shape if you're not used to it.

You mentioned the diverse music scene and I'm glad you've heard that...most people think we only listen to country...and while country dominates the radio sometimes, you can find a good mix of everything here.

As far as museums go, we definitely need some work there. We have an emerging art scene, but it's not anything on par with a larger city like Chicago. The Frist Center has some great temporary traveling exhibits and is always worth checking out, but it might be disappointing compared with what you're used to.

We have a number of good historical sights in the area, probably the crown jewel is the Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson. They offer student discounts, so when you go be sure to show your Vandy ID. There are also a number of Civil War sites around the mid-state, probably the best concentration is south of town in Franklin where the Battle of Franklin was fought. You mentioned Sun Records, you should definitely check out the Country Music Hall of Fame downtown, but also RCA Studio B where loads of hits were recorded on Music Row. For a cool, historic, artsy, and free thing to check out: see Hatch Show Print on Broadway which is a historic but still working print shop specializing in block letter show prints. Pretty cool.

As far as outdoorsy stuff goes, you mentioned the Natchez Trace and that is definitely worth driving especially during the fall when leaves change. Radnor Lake State Natural Area is fairly close to Vandy and is a real gem...some have called it Nashville's Walden. There are also parks like the Shelby Warner and Edwin Warner Parks (2 different parks) and Nashville is developing a greenway system that is still in its infancy, but growing.

Quote:
I like all kinds of restaurants, and I'm really spoiled by the ethnic food diversity in Chicago. Recommendations for Indian, Ethiopian, Thai and Middle Eastern would be greatly appreciated!
The good news is you will find a decent amount of diverse foods around West End/Vanderbilt. The bad news is that's about it, with the exception fo the Nolensville Road community. Once you get outside the main part of Nashville and into the suburbs, a lot of the food selection is limited to the Olive Gardens/Cracker Barrels/Chilis of the world. There are good independent restaruants in the suburbs, just not as much diversity as you're going to have around Vandy.

Hope that helps and again, let us know your questions and we'll continue to offer up suggestions.
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