The W&M First Year Experience

Dining at William & Mary

June 15, 2018 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hi! My name is Rishya Suresh and I’m a rising senior at the College, double-majoring in Applied Mathematics and Economics! As an international student from Dubai at W&M, I’m always striving to find the best places to eat and the best ways I can adhere to my vegetarian needs (Mosaic Bowls at the Caf are a great for getting more veggies in*). When considering college, food is generally what makes it or breaks it. Having food that meets all your dietary restrictions while still being enjoyable is what W&M Dining Services aims to achieve with its wide selection of dining options! We even have a Campus Dietician to work with students with dietary needs*

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Mosaic Bowl – Photo Credit: Carrie Kelley

Whether you’re on the Block 175, Gold 19, or Freedom, W&M has something to offer everyone! We have dining halls sprawled across campus in 3 different and ideal locations; The Sadler Center, The Caf, and Marketplace. If you’re trying to catch a quick bite between classes during a busy day, then Sadler is your answer. It’s placed conveniently between old and new campus and offers a variety of dining options such as a sandwich station, a vegan/vegetarian section, a grill with burgers (and sometimes grilled cheese!!!), a salad bar, and an Asian station. Furthermore, if you’re looking for some American comfort food, Marketplace is the place to be: from grilled cheese and burgers to mouth-watering soups to mac n’ cheese on Fridays. It is also vegetarian-friendly since there are always vegetarian options at all the different stations. For those living in Yates, Green & Gold Village, and/or Botetourt, the Caf is ideally located in between all three of these buildings. It provides food similar to Sadler but has huge television screens that students can use to enjoy a sport!

 

So many options and we haven’t even gone over Dining Dollars! Sadler Center, the Caf, and Marketplace use up your meal swipes: the number of meals you have is indicated on the meal plan you choose. For example, the Gold 19 provides 19 meals a week and the Block 175 provides 175 meals in a semester, which adds up to around 11 meals a week. Along with these meal swipes are also Dining Dollars that work as money in select restaurants. Restaurants like Cosi and Qdoba have a wide variety of options and break the lull of dining hall food in the week. There’s even a campus Food Truck on the Sadler Center Terrace*. Coming new this year is also Chick-fil-A, which will add to the variety of options to choose from! With so many dining options to consider, finding a place to eat that satisfies your dining need in college has never been easier!

* – Editor’s Note

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Easing the Transition

June 6, 2018 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hi, everyone! My name is Hannah Malowitz and I am a rising senior here at the College, majoring in Public Policy and minoring in Management & Organizational Leadership. As an out of state student from Connecticut, I cannot emphasize enough how important finding your community is when coming to college. I am beyond lucky to say that I have found my community all across campus from The Office of Community Engagement where I tutor and mentor with a group called Lafayette Kids, to the friendships I have formed in my social sorority, and to the meaningful work and bonds that I have made through New Student Orientation and The Office of First Year Experience.

 

However, this community did not form overnight. When I first got to William & Mary I did not know anyone and I was admittedly very nervous and homesick. Leaving for college is something completely new and it is totally reasonable to have some pre-orientation jitters! It can take time to find your people and your place, but if William & Mary has taught me anything over the last few years it is that it is entirely possible to find a home away from home, especially here.

 

As you all enjoy this summer, I am sure that the thought of move in day is not buried too deep in your mind. Transitioning to college is an incredibly exciting milestone, but I know that it can also be daunting at times. Here are a few tips to help you ease the transition and prepare to make William & Mary home.

  1. Soak up your favorite things about home:

 

Everyone has those special spots that make home feel like home. Whether that is your favorite pizza or ice cream place in town, your friend’s backyard, or simply your kitchen counter, be sure to spend a little extra time enjoying those places this summer. I know that some of you are probably busy with summer jobs and internships, but give yourself time to relax and spend time with friends and family. Maybe even make a summer bucket list and so you can check everything off before August! There are tons of amazing places here in Williamsburg, but it’s nice to say “see ya later” to all of the places you are familiar with before move in day.

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          2. Make your room your own:

 

The blank, white walls of a dorm room are not exactly the most cozy or trendy, but you can easily make your room feel like your own. Print some fun photos, bring posters, hang strands of lights, or decorate with some items from home. It always feels nice to come back to a room that has your own personal touch to it at the end of the day!

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           3. Embrace Orientation:

 

I am sure that if you have taken a tour of W&M, read some of these blog posts, or seen pictures of the neon crowd, you know that New Student Orientation is something that we get really excited about here. Of course, as one of the Orientation Area Directors, I am incredibly bias toward this statement. Looking back at my own new student experience, orientation was where I made my first friends and found my first support system in college. You may want to roll your eyes as your Orientation Aides facilitate hall bonding and cheer with a seemingly endless supply of energy, but these five days are truly a deep dive into the next four years. You will make connections with the people on your hall, get answers to questions you may not have even known you had about this school, and meet some amazing people that will be here to support you until graduation and beyond. You may feel overwhelmed and tired during this time and that is completely understandable. However, with the right attitude and your OAs by your side, these five days will kick start what I hope is an amazing first year experience.

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            4. Take advantage of resources:

 

The second you step foot on campus in August, you will have a wide range of resources at your fingertips. I have spoken briefly about the support and encouragement that you will receive from your OAs. These students are not only there to help you during orientation, but throughout your entire time at the College. In addition, you RA is an excellent person to get to know when you move in, especially since you will be living right near them all year! We are also fortunate to have the Counseling Center, Office of Health Promotion, and Student Health Center available. These offices are staffed with professionals and confidential resources that are there to assist if you need anything.

 

There is no magic piece of advice that I can give to calm your nerves about transitioning to college, but I can promise you that there will be people here to support you every step of the way. I was able to find my community and home here at William & Mary and I am so excited for you to do the same. See you in August!

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Making Friends in Your First Year

June 4, 2018 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hi everyone! My name is Abhi Chadha, and I’m a rising junior at the College majoring in Finance & Government. I’m from Ashburn, VA, so I’ve spent plenty of time in Virginia resulting in the wonder that is spring allergies! Within the Office of First Year Experience, I’m one of the 10 Orientation Area Directors, which means that I’m a part of Orientation planning and execution along with the staff of the office.

Speaking from my experience, I know that one of my biggest concerns coming into William & Mary was the topic of this post. I remember timidly asking a few of my college-going friends, “So, like, did you make friends at college?” or “How do you REALLY make friends at school?” For me, I was worried that I wouldn’t find people I clicked well with or that I would simply get lost in the crowd of people without finding “my people.”

Those concerns are incredibly valid but you’ll tackle them in your first few months here. My experience has been that William & Mary students are always open to meeting new people and love to get to know you better. That being said, here’s my advice to help you through that process of finding friends.

  1. Orientation

I know I speak for so many of us here at FYE when I say that our orientation program is easily one of the most unforgettable parts of your college experience. Our orientation program, which takes place the five days before school starts, is immersive – you have jam-packed days, full of important sessions, community building exercises, and more. At William & Mary, we have you complete orientation with your freshmen hall or a transfer cohort, which means you’re interacting with the same group of 10-30 students non-stop for five days. I know I created some of my most meaningful friendships through the relationships I made during orientation. Put yourself out there as much as you can during that period and introduce yourself to everyone you meet. You’ll quickly realize everyone else is also trying to make new relationships and will appreciate you reaching out. You’ll also be closely interacting with this group for the whole year so those relationships will naturally form further as the year progresses.

  1. Clubs/Organizations

Some of my closest friends have come from the organizations I’ve joined. In my first semester here, I threw myself into clubs I never thought I would, and through that I got to know a variety of people. You’ll get to meet people from all walks of life who share some common interest that binds them together. My advice here would be to just throw yourself headfirst into all kinds of clubs and see what sticks. You won’t have to stay with them all, but you’ll get to meet some amazing people in the process.

  1. Classmates

You’ll find that making friends with those that are in classes with you can often be easy, especially in classes that have you collaborating with others on assignments, as so many classes are at William & Mary. Don’t be afraid to get lunch with someone after class, or form study groups to help you get ready for your next exam.

  1. All at your own pace…

Often times, there’s this societal pressure for us to immediately acclimate ourselves to an environment and find our niche within days. The fact is, that probably won’t happen, and that’s completely fine. Everyone is going through the same thing, and no one walks onto campus already having a group of friends. Build your relationships at your own pace, not at someone else’s pace. In doing so, you’ll make lasting friendships that will steer the direction of your collegiate experience.

William & Mary is a truly magical place, full of people who have so much talent, breadth of experience, and genuine kindness in their hearts. Making friends may seem daunting, but its something that’ll come naturally as you acclimate to your new environment.

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The Rest of Your Life Is Just Beginning

May 21, 2018 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hi everyone, my name is Hannah Leich and over the course of the summer you will be seeing a lot of communication coming from our office (most of it generated by yours truly)! I am currently a graduate student at William & Mary pursuing my M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration.  During the school year, I work as a Graduate Assistant for International Programs at the Reves Center for International Studies and am a student intern with Student Accessibility Services through the Dean of Students Office.  In my spare time you can find me travelling the state of Virginia, walking through Colonial Williamsburg – especially on DOG Street, or adventuring anywhere outside from the beach to the mountains. I’m so excited to welcome you all to this wonderful institution and I can’t wait to support you in your journey this summer!

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The summer before college is one of the most exciting yet overwhelming times.  You are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime at William & Mary’s beautiful campus and our office is here to make sure that you are prepared for everything that is about to come your way!  You have already been receiving plenty of emails (from our office and others) and those will keep coming your way – these emails have IMPORTANT information in them (read: deadline reminders, financial aid information, class registration reminders, etc.) so make sure you check you inbox on a regular basis.

Okay, so now that I know you will all be checking your emails regularly from now until your graduation (4 or so years from now), here are some tips to help ease your transition into your first year at William & Mary:

Do One Thing at a Time

Your coursework hasn’t started yet, but there are already some assignments and deadlines you need to meet.  There are deposits to get in, immunization forms to fill out, surveys to complete, alcoholedu, and college studies.  Not to mention spending time with friends and family before heading off in new directions.  Having all these things to do in just a few short months may seem daunting – but don’t freak out!

First, make a list to get an overview of everything that needs to get done.  Next, prioritize all of your deadlines based on what will take the longest to get done and what is due first.  DO NOT wait until the last day of the deadline to start, especially for any forms that require approval from multiple people or multiple steps to complete.  Remember, none of these tasks are hard, but some do take time, and they are all very important. If you don’t get all of your forms in on time, there can be holds on your account that keep you from doing very necessary things such as moving into your dorm and signing up for classes.

That being said, it’s possible for you to avoid these unfortunate circumstances by a) submitting your forms well before the deadlines, and b) calling office a week or so after your forms are submitted to make sure that they went to the right office and were processed correctly.

Use Available Resources

Use the Facebook pages made for your class to get to know other incoming freshmen or transfer students.  These pages are helpful get to know other new students and connect before ever getting to campus.  It also helps to know that you’re not the only one going through this huge transition.

Along with the Facebook pages, over the summer you will be assigned a peer advisor that will help you navigate your first semester course schedule and help you understand W&M’s COLL curriculum.  Many of these advisors were recently freshmen and are eager to help new students navigate this confusing time.  They can give you tips on the best classes and professor to take and will be happy to answer any questions you throw their way.

Don’t Forget to Take a Break!

We’ll be keeping in touch with you all summer and excitedly anticipating you all arriving on campus, but don’t spend your entire summer getting ready for W&M.  Take some time out of your summers of travelling, working, and getting ready to just stop, breathe, and relax.  Spend time with your friends and family, read that book you’ve been meaning to get around to, take up a new hobby, take time for yourself.  While you’re out there, we’ll be here getting campus ready for YOU!

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Welcome to the Tribe: Your Next Experiences

December 14, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Congratulations to the newly admitted members of the Tribe! The next door of your life has just opened onto the next years of endless memories and possibilities.  Be proud of your accomplishment and look forward to everything you have ahead of you.

My name is Max Maiello, and on behalf of First Year Experience and everyone at William & Mary I would like to immensely welcome you to the Tribe. As a Junior going into his second semester, I speak from experience in saying that being a member of the Tribe guarantees you a multitude of life-changing memories and opportunities.

Disclaimer: this week is finals week, so I apologize if I get sentimental at any point.

Everyone’s experience at William & Mary is unique. There are dozens of variables that contribute to your own personal experience: the people you meet, the classes you take, and the organizations to which you belong are only some of many examples. No matter how much research you put into the William & Mary website or talk with current students like myself, predicting the highlights of your time here is virtually impossible.

That’s why being accepted to William & Mary is so exciting. You have no idea what is in store for you once you get here. Maybe your freshman roommate will get you hooked on Club Tennis. Maybe you’ll discover an interest in ancient Roman history and spend a summer studying in Italy. You could plan on being a business major and realize that you want to go pre-med instead. We have everything from Fencing to the International Relations Club to the Cheese Club. With hundreds of official opportunities in which to get involved, there’s a definite chance that you’ll find something meaningful unexpectedly.

One simple experience can help shape the entire course of your life. During my freshman year, my friends and I had randomly decided to explore a Study Abroad Fair with the sole purpose of “seeing all of the cool places we would probably never get to go.” Fast forward four months: I boarded a plane for the first time alone and spent the summer studying abroad in Italy. Fast forward four more months: I declared a minor in Classical Studies focusing on things I had learned while studying in Rome. Next year I plan on enrolling in beginning Italian courses to fulfill an interest in the language originating from my trip. That single visit to the study abroad fair (mainly to waste some free time with my friends) has had a significant impact on my education, my interests, and my life plans. Not only that, but pictures from the trip make excellent #tbt Instagram posts during this finals week.

Experiences would be nothing without the people that you spend them with. In my opinion, everything about William & Mary is designed for you to encounter people that will make a difference in your life. Some of my first close friends were made on the very first day of Freshman Orientation. During the first snow day of the year, my friends and I spent the day binge-watching Master Chef Junior (for whatever reason) and we still repeat inside jokes from the show.

This weekend, my planned study break to decompress is William & Mary’s traditional Yule Log ceremony, the holiday tradition of the College when students gather to listen to the school president read Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, enjoy hot cider and cookies, and bump into friends before they leave for break. During the pressure of finals, going with some of my closest friends will make it even more meaningful of an experience.

There are countless experiences waiting for you here at William & Mary, whether they’re through organizations or events or just the people you meet along the way. Regardless of the plans you already have in store, I recommend you take advantage of every chance and opportunity that you are presented. Some of the best experiences can be spontaneous.

Congratulations, and welcome to the Tribe!

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