The W&M First Year Experience

Figuring Out Food in College

June 22, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Figuring Out Food in College

Hi everyone, it’s Ally Brimmer again! Since meal plan deadlines are coming up, I wanted to briefly discuss the who, what, when, where, and how (much) of dining at William & Mary.

Eating On-Campus

As I’m sure most of you know there are three on campus dining places where you can use meal swipes: Sadler, The Caf, and Marketplace.

Marketplace is the smallest place to eat with food that is good for a quick meal or when you are on the go. For example, they have sandwiches, pizza, chicken tenders, salad, etc. It has the options every day (except when it isn’t open Friday after 2 or Saturday) with a little variety thrown in there. Because Marketplace is small, it can get pretty crowded right at 6:00 PM. My go-to is a grilled cheese with a fried egg on top.

Sadler is the solid “middle” dining option. They have more variety when it comes to stations for people with dietary restrictions (for instance there is a vegan section). While they mix up the main dishes that are served, there is consistency. There are permanent stations for sandwiches, pasta, salad, cereal/waffles, and soft serve ice cream. Note to self though, it can be very difficult to find a table for lunch at Sadler if you are going right at prime lunch time. Everyone is getting out of their classes at 12:20 PM or about to head to their 1:00 PM. So, I wish you luck on your impossible task.

The Caf is the biggest dining hall of the three (it might just be the layout though). If I’m being honest, my freshmen year I only went to the Caf during orientation when my entire hall went. However, my sophomore year I had a class in Adair Hall so my friends dragged me to the Caf and I’m glad they did because I was missing out. The Caf has a lot of variety as well as its basic stations. I’m for sure going to be putting in the effort to eat there this year partially because of its ice cream selections. Unlike Sadler, which just has vanilla and chocolate soft serve, the Caf has a mix of rotating flavors like cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, strawberry, delicious flavors etc.

Where you live and where your classes are will play a major role in where you eat. Because convenience is often key. Once you figure out your schedules and your activities, your food routines will start to take shape.

Dining Dollars

Moving on, dining dollars come with your meal plan and are used via your W&M ID and act like a cash substitute. The main name that is it known by is “flex,” it took me a while to figure that out. Dining dollars don’t roll over into the next semester so you should be spending it all before December. As of right now, the main places to use your dining dollars are Dominos, Swemromas, the Student Exchange, and the Crust. There used to be more places to use dining dollars, but they have recently closed, so until the announcement of any new businesses, those are some of the core places.

To use your dining dollars for Dominos you have to CALL THEM. Basically, you call Dominos, place your order, and then you have to say you would like to use your student ID or flex and then you read off your student ID number to them. Dominos is great though so it is worth calling for.

While I don’t drink coffee from Swemromas,  the Aromas in Swem library, I use a large chunk of my flex there for bagels, muffins, croissants, sandwiches, and the occasional smoothie. Not only is Swemromas a nice place to hang out and do some work, the food and drinks are really great.

The Student Exchange is a small grocery/convenience store in the bottom of Sadler where you can pick up things like tissues, medicine, snacks, eggs, milk, ice cream, etc. and use either your dining dollars or your W&M express.

Finally, there is the Crust which is right next door to Wawa. It’s mainly a pizza place, but they also serve salads, pasta, and gooey skillet cookies. Be aware that it can get very busy and rowdy on the weekends.

Cooking in the Dorm

Most people I knew Freshmen year only used the kitchens to make sweets like brownies or cookies. There is a kitchen in every dorm so you are free to use them to your heart’s desire, but you will have to go to your duty office and rent out any cooking supplies you need. Even though you are required to have a meal plan, it is very easy to cook for yourself as long as you have your ingredients and the supplies are still available for check out.

Eating Off-Campus

Here comes my favorite part. Williamsburg is a very food-oriented place. There are so many restaurants within walking distance with all kinds of wonderful food. The eateries range from cheap (like Wawa) to expensive (like the Blue Talon). While you might want to limit how much you spend for food off-campus, it is nice to treat yo’ self and mix up what you are eating every now and then. Personally, I love the bacon cheese fries at College Delly, the beef bowls at Wawa, the sandwiches at the Cheese Shop, and the fried pickles at Retros! Take this fun Buzzfeed quiz to find out which off-campus eatery you are!

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Making Friends as a New College Student

June 12, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Making Friends as a New College Student

You’ve constantly heard from adults around you and your older siblings that the friends you make in college are for life. So how do you make those friends?

Hi blogosphere! My name is Ally Brimmer and I’m a rising junior at W&M. I am a sociology major and marketing minor who is interning at the Office of First Year Experience this summer. I was trying to think about what I was most nervous about before coming to college. When I graduated high school, I was the only one of my senior class to go to William and Mary. That’s when I realized that I really was not going to know anyone at the College. It was so long since I had built new friendships from the ground up. Where do I even start? But I’m here to tell you that whether you know no one coming into school or fifty people, you will be okay! This is all based off my personal experience; obviously, people can make friends in different ways, but I want to chat about what worked for me.


Dip your foot in the water

After I decided I was coming to W&M, I went to the first place I could think of to connect with my new peers: our class Facebook page. I was so eager to see who of my new Tribe family had the same interests as me. I essentially friended anyone on Facebook from the page that sent me a request. Now here’s what I want to note. Most of my friends did not come from the Facebook page. Eventually it made for conversation when you would randomly bump into that one person whose funny comments you liked. While it wasn’t the place where I personally formed friendships, it allowed me to relax and realize I was coming to a great place with wonderful people all around me.

Take advantage of proximity

Like most people at the College, I met some of my best friends from my freshmen hall. Orientation is the time where a lot of these friendships begin to blossom. You spend so much time getting to know each other, eating meals together, and going to workshops. Orientation is a main way that people get bound together. Throughout the year, when you need your friends most they are right down the hall. When you are checking off your college firsts, your freshmen hallmates are often the ones at your side checking off those firsts as well.

Turn peers into pals

Another core place to make friends are your classes. You might not meet a new pal in your large introductory lecture class (unless you are an extreme extrovert), but you do have the chance to connect with new students in your freshmen seminars. Freshmen seminars are a great place to make friends because they foster discussion and interaction with your classmates. Forming study groups or having group projects is a viable way to make friends.

Engage on campus

Get involved on campus and the friends will follow. Joining clubs and organizations is a somewhat obvious way to make friends. Experiences like service trips and study abroad also allow you to meet new people. Being “forced” to hang out with people weekly over a core similarity is a great way for friendships to form.   

Don’t worry

To basically summarize what I’ve said, put yourself out there even though it may seem awkward. Trust me you will be rewarded in the end. Take advantage of the time you have before you come to school and engage online. Practice your people-socializing skills. If you like someone and want to be their friend, take the initiative to hang out with them! It’s as simple as that. The point is that everyone is in the same boat when they arrive at college. Breathe, be yourself, and be patient because you will find those friends that make college the best it can be.


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Working While Being a Student

June 7, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

My name is Nathaniel Mason and I am a summer intern at the Office of First Year Experience at William and Mary. I am currently finishing up my first year as a master’s student in Clinical Mental Health and Addictions counseling at William And Mary’s School of Education. I went to undergrad at University of Virginia, and graduated in 2013 with a degree in Psychology and Cognitive Science, minoring in Sociology. Today I wanted to talk to you about jobs, both on campus and off campus and some considerations to make before and after getting a job while being a student.


Having a job while in school was actually a great experience for me. In contrast to what some think, I was able to prioritize my studying, volunteering, and still engage in a healthy social life while making extra money and gaining additional experience. For some of you, jobs may be a necessity to pay for college expenses. For others, they may provide extra spending money, travel funds, or additional income to pay back loans. Whatever the case, having a job during college requires a particular mindset about the nature and function of your time spent working. Additionally, there are different aspects to consider regarding jobs on campus versus off campus.  I have compiled a list below of tips and tricks that was personally helpful for myself to keep in mind while working in college.

Having a job: PRO-TIPS

  • Try to get a job with shorter shifts during the evening or during free days/weekends to maintain flexibility
  • Take some time for self-care! Schedule certain weeks off you know that you will be busy. You are a student first
  • If possible, save the majority of your working time (i.e. full hours/internships) for the summer
  • Check the William and Mary On-Campus Job websites for student jobs that do not require a car
  • Jobs can be helpful for prioritizing schedules and regulating study, eating, exercise and social time. They can also be stressful depending on circumstances! Check in with yourself regularly to see if this is the best semester/summer for you to begin working
  • Understand that there are other sources of funding (scholarshipsgrants, and loans) to offset expenses related to college
  • Typical jobs on campus include SWEM library desk/shelving assistance, athletic department assistance, lifeguarding, student development/Phone-a-thon and academic offices.
  • Jobs are a great way to begin networking with others. This will come in handy for recommendation letters, resume building, and developing a set of professional skills
  • Jobs are impressive to future employers and school admissions offices to show a variety of skills and to show that you are a well-rounded individual
  • Jobs also help you learn to become more financially independent by learning the value of saving, budgeting and emergency funds

Now before you go looking for jobs to apply to, first consider whether you want to work on or off campus.


  • Usually flexible in terms of scheduling, needing to switch or cancel shifts, and other time management concerns
  • On slow days, homework can be done to help you get ahead of to-do lists; academic success can happen while you earn money!
  • Transportation is often not a problem- these jobs are usually within walking distance
  • Many jobs (thought not all) are fairly stress-free and not too much of a scheduling hassle
  • Many campus jobs can be used to accumulate transferable professional skills and expertise for future graduate school or other academic related endeavors
  • This is also a great opportunity to network with professionals, depending on where you work, and make connections for the future
  • Supervisors can be flexible around breaks- i.e. Spring Break, Winter Break etc. as well as around midterms and finals


  • Sometimes, better pay. This varies, though!
  • Allows you to explore skill sets and work-related experiences not always related to academic or associated offices and departments
  • Get a break from campus! We all need new sights and breaks from our often-hectic schedules. Off-campus jobs give a welcome reprieve from the flow of college
  • More opportunities: A variety of experiences in restaurants/catering, general hospitality, retail, office environments and a host of other career fields exist for your exploration
  • Many jobs continue year-round and do not require termination in the summer or between semesters
  • Become more familiar with the Williamsburg/James City and York Counties through employment outside of the University
  • Some jobs in Colonial Williamsburg (i.e. Merchants’ Square) are within walking distance thus transportation is not an issue.

Of course, jobs are not for everyone. Some of you may elect to focus on academics, volunteering, organization membership, and social engagement rather than working during college. There are pros and cons to either lifestyle. But remember, freshmen year at William and Mary is a time for transition as well! A job often presents an additional time constraint on already motivated students working in a new environment getting used to different surroundings as well as peers and friends. Take your time to adjust.

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How Much Do You Know About W&M?

June 2, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

By Danielle Stubbs, ’16

No doubt you did your research about William & Mary before you even applied. You know that W&M is a public research university established in 1693 by King William III and Queen Mary II. You’ve probably heard that we are the second oldest higher-ed institution in the country and that many famous individuals have walked this campus including four presidents and a multitude of celebrities such as John Stewart and Glenn Close, just to name a few. But those are just the big things that most people know. Let’s put your knowledge to the test of some of the more nitty gritty details. Be sure to leave your answers in the comments below!

  • Charter Day is a big deal on campus. It’s celebrated every year in February and includes songs by our own a cappella groups and many speeches by current students as well as our university president. But what exactly is Charter Day? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

charter day

  • W&M students pride themselves on getting involved in and around campus. It’s not just about academics here but about having fun as well. There are a plethora of clubs and organizations you can join and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, just start your own. Any guesses on just how many clubs and organizations there are?
  • Every year, W&M students (particularly new incoming students), staff and faculty kick off the new academic year by celebrating Opening Convocation. It was first implemented in 1993 and includes welcoming speeches, most notably given by our university president. Do you know where the ceremony takes place each year? I’ll give you a hint: it is the oldest building on campus.


  • W&M campus has many historic sites and buildings that each come with their own story. There is a lore surrounding a certain part of campus that if two people walk across it holding hands, you’ll be friends forever. What part of campus am I talking about?


  • Once you arrive on campus, there is no doubt you will become very familiar with the word TWAMP, a term commonly used on and around campus. Any idea of what it is?

Whether you go look up all the answers online or wait until you get here, you will know all of these answers and more soon enough. Because after you arrive on campus, you will become fully immersed in the W&M culture and community and let me tell you, there is nothing better than feeling that Tribe Pride!

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Get Connected

May 24, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hi everyone! It’s Danielle again. I wanted to take a minute to chat to you about social media. Ah! What a blessing and a curse it can be. Well, in this case it’s a blessing because it is the best way to get connected and stay informed about anything and everything related to William & Mary happenings. Today, I’m going to share with you the top 3 resources that you should check out if you want the latest scoop on what is happening on and around campus.

girl on computer

If you’re an incoming student…

The Office of First Year Experience hosts several events throughout the year to get freshman and transfer students involved on campus. We post reminders about those upcoming events and important university deadlines that are specific to incoming students across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Get the most up-to-date info about Fall 2017 orientation and move-in day on FYE’s general social media accounts as well as on the Facebook page specific to your group (Class of 2021 and Transfer Students). By following our accounts, you are also privy to info that can’t be found anywhere else, like the details on our Instagram competition! Post a pic of your pet wearing W&M swag or green and gold on Instagram using #WMPets at a chance to win some cool W&M swag. The first winner will be chosen May 31.

Also, if you want to know what a day in the life of a W&M student looks like before you come to campus in August, follow Life@WM on Instagram to get a look at campus life through the eyes of W&M students. The great thing about this is that once you get here, you can take over their Instagram for a week too and show future Tribe members what it’s like to be part of the W&M community. More info on that can be found here.

If you don’t know where to start…

The fastest way to get connected to the latest W&M news is to go to W&M’s Social Stream. It allows you to look at posts from all of W&M’s official social media accounts at once – from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, to Flickr, Instagram and W&M Blogs. If you just want to see posts from Twitter, you can filter the page to show just those. It is a great way to see all of what’s going on at one, quick glance!

For when you’re here…

Along with the Social Stream, there is also a Social Media Directory that includes a list of social media accounts for every single academic department, administrative office and graduate school. Depending on what you get involved in, it’s a good idea to follow some of those social media accounts to stay up to date on department or group specific events. So if you plan on getting involved with the Center for Student Diversity, for example, you can follow their Facebook, Twitter and/ or Instagram for current updates. If you want to know about any upcoming career fairs or mock interviews, follow the Cohen Career Center’s social media.


Overall, transitioning to a new environment isn’t always easy but getting connected is. Especially doing so before coming to campus is super helpful in getting to know other students, making friends, finding roommates and looking at potential clubs and other activities to get involved in. So what are you waiting for?!


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