The W&M First Year Experience

All Roads Lead to Home

October 24, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hey, everyone! Max Maiello here again. For those of you who missed my last post, I am a Public Policy and Environmental Policy Double Major from Sparta, New Jersey. As a member of the Class of 2019, I intern with First Year Experience, tutor at the local middle school, and serve on the executive board of my fraternity.

Wherever you may be in the college application process, you’re almost there! Take a break from writing those essays, grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte, and relax. This might have been one week of intense college preparation for you, but it’s one of the most looked forward to at William & Mary: Homecoming!

First off, college homecoming is nothing like high school homecoming. I can’t even remember much about my high school homecoming – there was a football game, but it was like any other weekend during football season, and maybe there was a dance?

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Homecoming in college puts high school homecoming to shame. As Homecoming Co-Chair for my fraternity, Kappa Alpha, I got to witness how eventful and exciting this week could be. Since I’m not a big football fan, I find Homecoming weekend exciting for two reasons aside from the annual Homecoming Game: the W&M alumni and the W&M parade.

Alumni: I figured I should start with the most important aspect of Homecoming. The entire week exists for graduates, both recent and former, to travel back to Williamsburg from all corners of the world and celebrate the place they called home for years. When I say ‘both recent and former,’ I mean it fully. At one end of the scale, I gave tours of the Kappa Alpha house to graduates from 1983 and 1992 that knocked on our door and marveled at how different the fraternity is since their time here. At the other end of the scale, friends of mine that have graduated within the past three years flocked back to campus just to see me (not really, but I like to think so). Some of them have gone into the work force, which as a Junior I am extremely curious and interested in hearing about. Some have traveled – one of my friends spent months hiking in Alaska, while two others are teaching English in Korea and China. Some are in graduate school or law school – begging for their help on future applications is socially acceptable, contrary to popular belief. No matter where they are or what they’re doing, I’ve missed them ever since their graduation, and Homecoming is an awesome time to catch up with the amazing things they have been up to. Even when I haven’t seen someone in years, having the opportunity to rekindle a friendship and catch up on each other’s lives is a rare but meaningful occasion.

Parade: This is the main reason for my week’s sleep deprivation, but also my favorite event during Homecoming. The Friday of Homecoming is always marked by a parade that unites alumni, current students, and Williamsburg residents alike. Richmond Road, one of two of the main roads for campus and the town, is entirely blocked off and lined with an audience. It might not be the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it could be considered a close second. Williamsburg businesses and student organizations do their best to build floats and walk in the parade, cheering on the crowd. Different cultural groups march and put on quick performances. Fraternities and sororities team up to decorate floats (that are elaborate for a college budget), wear specially designed shirts, and celebrate pride in their chapters. I had been responsible for the joint Kappa Alpha and Gamma Phi Beta float, and on Thursday night several of us got together with some paint and Dunkin Donuts to finish the final touches. On the way to the parade the next day, half the float flew off our truck on the highway, making the day even more eventful. Thankfully we had duct tape and a pack of gum to reattach it.

Float2

I spent this past week celebrating William & Mary, the place I am proud to call home. So for those of you preparing for College, ready to take on a new adventure in a strange place, here is my advice on leaving home for the first time.

When we graduate high school, our hometowns become places that we visit. Soon you’ll experience this, too. Your life moves elsewhere, and you take short trips back to commemorate that time with family and old friends. I love going home, but even when I do it feels weird being back after a few days; my friends have gone to other colleges, my little brother’s schedule dominates the front of the fridge, and half of my things have been moved from my room to my dorm room.

Right now, my home is William & Mary. This is where I am making memories, be it float painting at 2am or chasing a cardboard house down the highway. Those both occurred within only 12 hours of each other, so imagine the plethora of other memories being made during your time here.

Next year, after I proudly graduate from the College and embark on becoming rich and famous, I’ll have a new home in Washington D.C. or wherever I end up moving to. Just as my hometown in New Jersey is somewhere that I cherish and visit, William & Mary will be another place that has shaped who I am. Maybe it sounds cliché, but the friends that I’ve made here and the memories I’ve made with them will last forever, and that’s what really makes a place a home. I’m sure a similar phrase is embroidered on a pillow, but that just means it has to be true.

Two years from now, I’ll be visiting William & Mary for Homecoming weekend for the first time as a graduate. This time I won’t have to chase flying cardboard down a highway, but will have the leisure to watch the parade with my fellow alumni.

William & Mary is my home, and soon you can call it yours as well.

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