The W&M First Year Experience

Entries Tagged as 'Prep for W&M'

The Best Things are Stumbled Upon

August 8th, 2016 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hi everyone!

My name is Roselyn Buensuceso (but my friends call me Rose), and I am a rising sophomore at William & Mary. I am also the Engagement Coordinator for the First-Year Initiatives Directorate.

Rose 1

Next week, you will all arrive to your new home…and the Tribe community is stoked to welcome you! One of my favorite things about William & Mary is the people. Our student body is so diverse—never before have I come across such a vast array of dreams, passions, personalities, and ways of thinking. It’s such an incredible feeling to know that I can literally walk up to anyone on campus and just strike up a conversation. This may sound a bit daunting—especially in an unfamiliar environment, which is why I challenge you to take a step out of your comfort zone. Go through your college journey with an open mind and a spark of spontaneity, and who knows what will come your way! You might stumble across something that will blow your mind, challenge you, enlighten you, excite you, or empower you.

One silly example that I love to share is how I met some of my best friends—two guys who lived on my floor in Jefferson Hall. During Orientation, I was exploring my building and heard a loud, thumping bass vibrating through the old dorm walls (which would actually earn them some noise complaints throughout the year). I recognized the music and followed the sounds to their dorm room. Then, I just burst through their door all like, “WOW, I love this song!” It was so spontaneous and out of my comfort zone…but hey, isn’t that what college is about? Regardless, it started a beautiful and adventurous friendship that I know will last way beyond these next three years.

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My J2 hallmates and closest friends, Matt and Michael

On a more serious note, I also stumbled upon various global issues that I realized I am extremely passionate about, such as human trafficking. During the activities fair, I signed up for an organization that was planning to do a spring break brigade in Honduras.  I excitedly fundraised throughout the semester. However, it turned out that the financial costs were simply too much to take on as a freshman. I felt so defeated because I wanted to serve the community and do something meaningful with my time. Then in February, just a few weeks before spring break, I discovered Branch Out’s alternative spring break trips in the “Student Happenings” email (NOTE: Read those emails!!! That’s how I landed my on-campus job at Phonathon and my position on the Directorate!)

Branch Out is a community service student organization that raises awareness of social justice issues and promotes active citizenship in the community. They host both international and domestic trips. Much to my satisfaction, the domestic trips are cheaper, and there are so many amazing places from which to choose! Each trip focuses on a different issue, such as incarceration, HIV/AIDS, urban and rural education, ageism, LGBT rights—the list goes on! Without any idea of what to expect, I excitedly (and nervously) signed up because I wanted the opportunity to expand my horizons. The issue my trip revolved around was human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking, in the Baltimore area. This was actually the first time that Branch Out tackled this issue, and they were worried it may have been too dark. In a way, we were considered the guinea pigs! So with a team of nine powerful and beautiful women, I began my journey into one of the most shocking and eye-opening weeks of my life.

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Before the trip, I had little to no knowledge about human trafficking and prostitution. I’ve only heard about it through stigmas, judgments, and dark-humored jokes that I heard while growing up. I was under the impression that trafficking was something that happened internationally, and that seemed to distance me further from the issue. However, I soon learned that it is a prevalent issue in our local communities that is only growing larger. In Baltimore, we volunteered at the drop-in center of Safe House of Hope, an organization dedicated to directly supporting the victims and survivors of sex trafficking. We had the opportunity to hear the survivors’ stories and form relationships with them. My heart was broken and shattered at the horrors these women endured throughout their lives. To gain more exposure of the demographic and atmosphere of the city, we served at various organizations in the area. After volunteering at a homeless shelter, cooking in a kitchen that transports meals to HIV/AIDS and cancer patients, and going on a prayer walk that detailed the deaths from the Baltimore protests, the raw intersectionality of these issues began to pile up and overwhelm all of us. It was so emotionally draining. In the middle of the week, many of us broke down in tears from the utter shock and grief. This was when I learned the crucial difference between sympathy and empathy. We had to imagine ourselves in these people’s shoes before moving forward and creating progress.

Although the week was a wild roller coaster of emotions, I feel like I came out of it much more educated, aware, and open-minded. I also gained eight new sisters who continue to inspire me every day. The trip impacted my group so much that we’re in the process of starting our own organization on campus to raise awareness of human trafficking, especially in the Williamsburg area. We hope to establish ourselves in the fall, so look out for HEART (Human Engagement, Awareness, & Response to Trafficking)!

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Many of these seemingly little choices of spontaneity and curiosity ended up changing my life. Who knew that I would stumble into my best friends’ dorm room, or onto a road trip that would render me speechless, or onto a possible future career path (because I still have no idea what I’m doing…but THAT’S OKAY). Don’t be afraid to embark on a new journey. As cliché as it sounds, college is the place where we discover ourselves. And William & Mary is, no doubt, the best place to do that. Whether it’s joining a sport that you’ve never played before, taking a class in an unfamiliar subject, or auditioning for an a cappella group, the possibilities are endless. So take a step—as big or small as you want—out of your comfort zone and into your new home. We are so happy to have you!

Tags: Prep for W&M · Welcome

Weather in Williamsburg

August 3rd, 2016 by W&M FYE · No Comments


My name is Patrick Linehan, and I am a rising senior at William & Mary majoring in Marketing and Film & Media studies. I am one of the Orientation Area Directors for the Botetourt Complex with Alexis Plofchan for this upcoming orientation.

Today, I’m here to talk about the weather in Williamsburg: an important topic to know about so you can both pack accordingly and be able to make small talk when you run out of candy crush lives at social gatherings.


Today’s Forecast: Weather

Although I am from Virginia, the weather and climate of Williamsburg differs from that of my hometown in Chantilly, Virginia. There is far more rain in Williamsburg than I had in Northern Virginia, and it tends to get hotter down here as well. Here are some important things to know about Williamsburg weather for those who did not grow up in the area.


Every first that I have had at William & Mary involves rain: my first convocation, my first tour, first Yule Log Ceremony, my first time writing a blog post for the Office of First Year Experience; it rained every time. Investing in a raincoat or a long term poncho is critical. It does not matter the season; you can guarantee that it will rain throughout the year. The rain tends to puddle up on the paths, so bringing along some rainboots isn’t a bad idea either.


If having to change shirts and profusely apologize for my sweatiness over the summer after giving tours has taught me one thing, it is that one must be prepared for the heat in Williamsburg (read: bring plenty of deodorant). The heat makes it awesome to play on one of the beach volleyball courts on campus or take a short trip down to the College Creek beach and cool off. On the flip side, be sure to bring a fan or two for your room. It’s only really hot during the first two weeks and last two weeks of school, but having some fans can help you cool off and make you the envy of others on your hall. Bringing a water bottle will also help on the walk to class to make sure that you are hydrated and is especially important during orientation.


To some people’s surprise, it does get pretty cold in Williamsburg and snows almost every year. Although the best time to wear a striped sweater is all the time, it only starts to get cold in Williamsburg around Thanksgiving, so you don’t really need to worry about bringing sweaters and snow gear down to Williamsburg until at least Fall Break–if you are trying to save some room while you are packing. I always brought some snow stuff down after Thanksgiving Break for first semester, and brought it all home during Spring Break for second semester. It has snowed every year that I have been at William & Mary and cancelled school a couple times, so having boots and a winter jacket is a must. Fun fact: everytime it snows, Blue Talon offers free hot chocolate to the first students to come to their restaurant (Pro tip: invest in boots with good traction so as your friends are tripping & falling in the snow, you will be able to get to Blue Talon first and get all of the free hot chocolate).

Extreme Weather

I know my parents were a little worried about me going to school by the coast and what that could mean in terms of more extreme forms of weather. I think there has only been one hurricane during my time here, and it was pretty mild. That being said, there have been hurricanes in the past, in which case the school will notify you and precautions will be taken depending on the severity of the storm to make sure everyone stays safe.


There really is no telling what the weather is going to be like on a given day in Williamsburg. During my freshman year it snowed one day and by the next day it was 70 degrees, and there were students tanning outside by the snow. The weather varies, so you really need to check the weather app everyday when you wake up. But one cool aspect of the variability is that you really get to experience every season in Williamsburg.


When I was in high school, my tour guide said that he was from Florida and chose William & Mary because it experienced all of the seasons, which he admitted sounded odd, but I have to admit it is a cool feature. We sometimes get a good amount of snow during the winter and still have the heat of the summer. It is great that William & Mary looks beautiful in every season and that you get to see it in so many different ways, but it means that you have to be prepared for anything. Pack efficiently and strategically.

While the weather may dictate the things you can do on certain days, it can certainly have its perks. Through the rain, we get some awesome rainbows after storms and sunsets. There is really no bad time to visit William & Mary. The campus looks beautiful whether the leaves are falling, the ground is getting covered in snow, or the flowers are blooming, so get excited to discover what season you most enjoy William & Mary!

Tags: Prep for W&M · Welcome

How Often to Call the Parents

July 26th, 2016 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hello again!

If you didn’t read my other blog post, my name is Amanda Lewe, and I am a rising sophomore here at William & Mary. I work as the Academic Imitative First Year Directorate here in the Office of FYE. I am going to address one of the most frequently asked question, “How often do I call my parents?”

When I left Northern Virginia for Williamsburg a little less than a year ago, my relationship with my parents definitely changed. (Fun Fact: I said “goodbye” to my parents in the Sadler Center mailroom). In high school when I needed advice on a problem, I could just tell my parents when I saw them at home. However, once I got to William & Mary, I had to work to keep my parents in the loop about my life.


During my first year at college, I found it easier to communicate with my parents every day. I called my mom almost every day. Although this might seem excessive, I prefer to call instead of text (yes, I am very old school). I enjoyed calling my mom while I’m going on a walk in Colonial Williamsburg or have a few minutes in between classes to talk to her.

amanda4  amanda3

But everyone has a different calling schedule. I know my roommate likes to FaceTime her family once a week, while some of my friends are international students and find it easier to text their parents because of the time zone differences.

There is no magical number of times you must call your parents in college. It took me over a semester to figure out how much I need to call them. There are some weeks I call my parents almost every day, while there are other weeks that I might call them once or twice. It all depends.

Calling your parents is a lot like your Swemroma’s coffee order. At first you don’t know what to order and test many different drinks. You try the drink-of-the-week on Monday and a Snicker’s latté on Tuesday. Then by Friday you find your “go-to” coffee order.  In the same way during your first semester, test out how much or little you need to communicate with your parents. You will eventually find a happy medium.

Happy summer and I hope you find your “go-to” drink at Swemroma’s this fall (mine is a large iced French vanilla latté)!


Tags: Prep for W&M · Welcome

Suggestions for the Packing List

July 22nd, 2016 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hello again—Alexis Plofchan here! As I said in the last article I wrote, I am one of the 10 Orientation Area Directors for Orientation this year and have been assigned, along with Pat Linehan, to the Botetourt Complex!

Now that you have been assigned to your halls, and as Orientation gets closer, I am sure everyone is starting to think about what is essential to pack and bring to William & Mary for your first year! That is where I come in. I am going to attempt to help point you in the right direction in terms of what you really need to pack! Hopefully this will remind you of some of the things you might have not thought about before!

Must haves:

  • Rain boots!!!
    • This was the most consistent answer from the people I asked to help me put this list together. Rain boots/Bean Boots are sooooo essential because Williamsburg attracts the rain, and when it rains, puddles seem to stay. Be proactive and order some now so that you don’t have cold, wet feet come September!
  • Umbrella/Raincoat
    • You don’t want to take a second shower during the day when you are walking to and from class—I went a whole year without these and regretted it every time it rained.
  • Shower caddy/Shower shoes
    • These are just generally helpful and more sanitary.
  • Bathing suit
    • To me this is essential because of the possibility that you might go kayaking on Lake Matoaka or go to College Creek with friends!
  • Frisbee/baseball/football/basketball/golf clubs/sports gear
    • One great way to bond with your hall, if you are into sports, is to put together a pick-up game or just go and throw around the ball. Don’t forget to pack these if that is something you might want to do, especially if you might want to do clubs sports or intramurals and need equipment for the specific sport!
  • Favorite books/DVDs
    • For those nights in when your homework is done and you just want to relax, having your favorite movie on hand is essential! Introducing your hall to your favorite old movie is a great way to bond!
  • Extra of everything
    • Bring extra toothpaste, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, etc. This will make it easier for you because you don’t want to have to go to the store for a bar of soap the second week of school.
  • A fan
    • If your dorm does not have AC, then make sure to bring a fan or two. You will want to have these for the first couple weeks of school so that you can get away from the humidity that is a staple in Williamsburg
  • Decorations/Pictures/Command strips
    • If you want to make your room seem a little more like home, then bring things that you can put up to help make it feel cozy. Pictures of people and places from home are easy additions to your room to make it feel more like yours. If you do this, then bring command strips to put them up so they won’t fall on your head when you are sleeping (I have had this experience—it is not fun!).
  • Water bottle
    • You don’t want to have to buy water every day when you are inevitably dying of thirst during Orientation. Bring your water and refill it throughout the day! This will be helpful throughout the semester to keep yourself hydrated, and it is more sustainable!
  • Laundry detergent/dryer sheets
    • When it comes time to do your first load of laundry at school (or maybe ever), you are going to want to have these in order to do it right.
  • Snacks
    • Bring some snacks and comfort food to keep in your dorm for when you are hungry at 12am after hanging out with friends or doing work. Plus, everyone loves the person on the hall who has the popcorn or Easy Mac and is willing to share!
  • Storage bins
    • A storage container or two can come in handy to keep things under your bed organized or to organize your room’s food supply. Also, if you are like me, then they are useful because you can just throw everything under the bed and forget about it until moving out… BUT, if you want to be a little more organized, then storage bins are a must.

I think that is all I have right now! But in a few short weeks the Orientation Aides (OAs) for your halls will be reaching out to everyone and giving their suggestions on what to bring and providing their input if you have any further questions, so don’t worry!

If you forget something, then luckily there are stores, like Target, within 10 minutes away where you can easily go and get those hangers or towels you forgot at home! On move-in day and the couple of weeks after, you will see many William & Mary students, both new and old, scrambling to these stores to get the things that were forgotten at home. So don’t stress too much! Think of the things that are essential to have the first day and then go out and get the rest as the weeks go on. That way you aren’t carrying as much on move-in day!

See everyone in a month!

Tags: Prep for W&M

Czech Out W&M’s Study Abroad Opportunities!

July 13th, 2016 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Dobry Den (Good Day)!

My name is Amanda Lewe, and I am a rising sophomore at William & Mary.  I am the Academic Initiatives First Year Directorate. I also just returned from spending 6 weeks in Prague! Within the span of 6 weeks (well 44 days to be exact), I explored 11 cities, traveled to 5 countries, spoke 4 languages, and used 3 different currencies.


I studied abroad in Prague through William & Mary’s summer study abroad programs. I decided to apply to the Prague program (and very happy I did). I sent my application off in January and a few weeks later I learned that I would be in Prague for the summer! Here, at William & Mary, even freshman have the opportunity to study abroad (and you have to opportunity to do it with some pretty great people).


So what did I do for 6 weeks in Prague? Well, I took a Modern Czech Politics course, an Art and Architecture course, and a Czech Language course. In my Art and Architecture class, we would spend the first half of class learning about a specific art style, such as romanesque or baroque. However, in the second half of class, we would go into Prague and explore museums, churches, and buildings that we had just learned about in class!


But when I wasn’t in classes, I was able to explore Prague. My dorm was only a five-minute tram ride from the famous Prague Castle, and a very close walk to the Valtva River. While exploring the city, I found the best gelato place called Angelato. They serve Jasmine Rice and Basil gelato!


On the weekends, we took trips to different cities and countries near and around Prague. I visited Vienna, Berlin, Budapest, Bratislava, Dresden, and various cities in the Czech Republic. One of my favorite weekends was in Vienna, Austria. We visited the Hapsburg’s Summer Palace and watched a Ballet for free in front of the famous Vienna Opera House. In addition, we visited a tiny art gallery with works by Adolf Frankel. Frankel was a survivor of Auschwitz and after his liberation he expressed his feelings through his artwork. On our weekend trips, we were able to learn about life during World War II, as well as during the age of communism and the Cold War.


Studying abroad this summer has been one of the most incredible experiences. Living in a different country challenges your paradigm and teaches you about yourself, both as a student and citizen of the world. I would definitely recommend czeching out William & Mary’s study abroad programs, whether it be for a semester or a summer.

Nashledanou (Bye)!


Tags: Prep for W&M · Studying Abroad