The W&M First Year Experience

Entries Tagged as 'Studying Abroad'

Take Your Time

July 21st, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hello internet,

It’s Ally Brimmer again. I thought I would take the time today to tell you a little more information about myself and my first year experience at William and Mary.

I’m currently about to start my junior year at the College as a sociology major and a marketing minor. I work at FYE as the Director of Engagement Initiatives, I am in Passing Notes A Cappella, involved with Sinfonicron, am Vice President of music fraternity Delta Omicron, and an Orientation Aide for the Fall. I think my main story is that it took me a while to find my place here.

Before I started school I had a lot of high expectations for myself. As a type A personality, when something doesn’t go according to my plan, I get a little thrown off. I had this image in my head of what my college life was going to look like. Long story short, it did not end up looking like that “image” at all. Still, I don’t think I would change a thing, as corny as it may sound, because it has gotten me to where I am now.

During orientation, I felt overwhelmed by the student activities fair. I did not really put my name down on club listservs, but did audition for a few groups on campus. However, a double-edge sword of W&M is that students here are all really really talented. And I’m not going to lie, rejection can be hard, but I just kept moving forward and looked for the next opportunity. In fact, I did not get accepted as an OA freshmen year, but that didn’t stop me from applying again.

My main involvement first semester was in the theater department. I worked backstage for two shows in the fall. In high school I performed on stage, so I loved getting to work behind the scenes and learn new skills. While I no longer have the time to help out with the theater department, I’m still there in the audiences cheering everyone on.

My theater friends told me about this thing called “Sinfonicron” that happens over winter break. Sinfonicron is a student-run light opera company that has been at W&M for 50+ years. During the last two weeks of Winter Break, a handful of students came back to campus, bunked up in houses and put on a production in two weeks. Two weeks to make the sets, teach the choreography, learn their lines, and make the props. Choosing to do Sinfonicron was the best decision I’ve made here. I met incredible people, formed lasting bonds, and felt incredibly proud of my abilities.

Sinfonicron then led me to join the co-ed music fraternity Delta Omicron. I was starting to find my footing. I think Freshmen year is all about being open to new experiences. My friends and I went to all the concerts, all the comedy shows, and all the random events around campus to see what we enjoyed and how we wanted to spend our free time. Through these events and just simply hanging out in rooms, my friendships with my hallmates got deeper. My friends really made my freshmen year so incredible and I’m currently looking back at my Facebook photo album and can’t stop smiling.

Early on when I had random free time, I went to various information sessions from the Cohen Career Center and the Reves Center. This led me to studying abroad at Cambridge University the summer after my freshmen year. I link that into my first year experience because I still felt like I had a lot to learn about myself and what I wanted to do that at William & Mary. Studying abroad is an unforgettable experience that helped me in so many ways and I highly recommend it to everyone.

Even after freshmen year I still jumped around and tried different organizations, but now I feel secure in where I am. The same also goes for my major and minor. I originally thought I wanted to be a psychology major, quickly realized that was not right, and took an introductory sociology course where I seemed to thrive.

I think if I wanted anyone reading this to have a main takeaway it would be “take your time and find the right fit.” I know from personal experience that when you arrive on campus, you immediately want to find your own niche here. I just think it’s important to not jump at the first thing that comes along and have faith that you will find a place here. Also, find the friends who make you your best self and hold onto them tight.

Tags: Studying Abroad · Welcome

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

Spending the Summer in DC with W&M

July 6th, 2016 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hello, everyone! My name is Laini Boyd. I am a rising junior and cannot wait to welcome the Class of 2020 to campus in August! Hopefully I will meet you all at some point during your freshman year. I am a Parent and Family Orientation Aide (PFOA) for Eagle G and the Community Initiatives First Year Directorate.


I started tutoring local Williamsburg students two years ago. During the first training session, I learned about this thing called growth mindset. To have a growth mindset, you must be willing to learn regardless of your strengths or weakness. Middle school tutors hear statements like this every day: “I can’t do this! I am not good at math.” And, we are trained to respond encouragingly with, “There is no such thing as being ‘good’ at something because your brain is a muscle. As long as you practice, you will build your skills in math. So, you can finish your homework and do well on your next math test.” Middle schoolers may moan and continue to complain, but eventually, they come around.

This summer I am taking my advice and continuing to learn every day, but I have learned a great deal outside of the classroom. For example, I found out that no picture can compare to the view of the Fourth of July fireworks from my apartment rooftop.


(I can guarantee you, this looked 100,000x more majestic in person.)

This summer I am studying and interning in Washington, D.C. with the university’s DC Summer Institutes. The Washington Center through William & Mary in Washington, D.C. offers classes for credit on different topics such as government, international relations, urban education, community engagement, and much more. This summer, there are three institutes occurring simultaneously: American Politics, New Media, and Leadership and Community Engagement.

I moved into the city in mid-May—right after the spring semester ended—and live in an apartment with other William & Mary students. In the first two weeks of the summer program, students in my Institute (American Politics) completed a course on polarization in American Politics. In preparation for these two fast-paced, intense two weeks, we met with our professor a few times throughout the spring semester so that we had a solid foundation heading into the program. The structure of the two weeks of classes is not what you might expect. The classes were mixtures of discussion and lecture, like most college classes, but we also had the opportunity to meet with leaders in politics, academics, and journalism to hear their thoughts on political polarization. On the first day of class, all three Institutes met Jim Comey, Director of the FBI and William & Mary alumnus. My institute also spoke with Virginia Senator Mark Warner and Representative Rob Wittman of Virginia in their respective congressional offices. We even had private tours of NBC’s Meet the Press and the Library of Congress!

After the two-week course, all of the fellows (students in the program are called fellows) started their internships across the city. It was great that The Washington Center worked alongside of the fellows to help us find and secure internships in career fields in which we are interested in gaining professional experience. I am currently interning at the District of Columbia Public Schools’ Central Office as their Marketing and Community Outreach intern. I run my team’s social media accounts and complete survey reports. Some days, I get to shadow elementary summer school programs and meet with students, families, and educators.

Since most internships in D.C. are unpaid, you can always find a free event in the city after work or on the weekends. Plus, the apartment buildings for the program are in a prime location in D.C.— not too far from Chinatown, which is a short metro ride to the National Mall and White House. I have visited a few of the Smithsonian museums with other students in my program and went to the Pride Parade with my roommate!


(This is my view from my apartment building. And, yes, just in case you are wondering, that is the Washington Monument!)

If you aren’t big on initiating outings in unfamiliar places, then don’t worry because The Washington Center plans events for students throughout the summer. Some of my classmates went to a Washington Nationals baseball game a couple of weeks ago for free! The Washington Center also planned a Family Weekend with brunch and tickets to the National Art Museum and Newseum. I have been to a few of their networking events and am now well versed on the ins and outs of “The LinkedIn.” Fellows also have the opportunity to be paired with an alumni mentor. My mentor is in a career field of interest and has put me in contact with a handful of other professionals to meet with during the summer and learn about their careers.

I cannot imagine a better way to spend this summer. Working, living, and learning in the nation’s capital this summer has been a blast and great learning experience. I am learning about a career field that interests me and meeting professionals in the field. If you are like me and want to do something productive with your summer, then the DC Summer Institutes may be just right for you. If you are looking for a semester long experience to live, learn, and work in D.C., then you should consider the DC Semester Program during the fall or spring semesters (open to Sophomores through Seniors), and if you are only looking to spend 10 days in D.C., then the DC Winter Seminars may be more up your alley. The Washington Center offers amazing programs year round that allow you to take courses with amazing William & Mary professors, go on once-in-a-lifetime tours, and meet William & Mary students who will be life-long friends. Visit The Washington Center; you may be surprised what you can learn!

Tags: Studying Abroad · Welcome