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20 Things People Forgot to Tell You About W&M

This is the stuff that didn’t make it into your admissions packets. It didn’t make it into your brochures or the official website. This is the real deal. This is real life in the mean streets of Williamsburg. In no particular order, here are some things you should know.

  1. Having a life matters. As much as we like to joke around about our TWAMPiness (or TWAMPhood?) it really does matter to have a life. Join a couple clubs, but not too many, and give yourself free time to just hang out. You’re going to want to feel like you have to, or want to do everything there is to do on campus. It’s much better to be chill and sane than high-strung and go a little crazy. More than the number of honor societies you join, your friendships will be the things you hold dear for the rest of your life, so don’t miss out on your freshman year!
  2. If you do not have rainboots, you need them. It rains here fairly frequently and it rains heavily (as you have probably noticed). Likewise, bring an umbrella and a rain coat.
  3. This town is made up in large part of college students, tourists, and retirees. Yeah, we go hard. You may be annoyed by people’s driving, especially when you throw Confusion Corner into the mix. Let it go. 
  4. Williamsburg is a pretty safe place given that we live in a small sort of town, but every once in a while Ginger Ambler will send out a warning or a report of something tragic or dangerous–or potentially dangerous– that has happened on or near campus. Ginger Ambler is someone whom the students here find endearing in a way that happens when someone is consistently the bearer of bad news– some of which is a little funny. Like the time we all got sent an Ambler Alert about how there were raccoons on campus that potentially had rabies– and that no, you couldn’t wait until the next day to “see what happens” if one scratched or bit you, but that you actually had to get immediate medical attention. But take her emails seriously until you have evidence not to. We do experience real tragedies, emergencies, and dangers posed by others– TWAMPs and non-TWAMPs alike.
  5. Most things close around six if you’re going off campus. Tons of stuff to do on campus, but don’t expect stores in the CW to be open that late. Be sure to actually read (or at least skim) the Student Happenings emails so that you’ll know about events going on on campus.
  6. Wawa is one of the few places where you can grab food 24/7. You will make many runs there when midnight munchies hit or after parties. You will see many a disheveled theme-party costume and you will have to absolute delight of meeting the W&M celebrity, Wawa Pam.
  7. You were probably a big fish in a little pond in your area. You’re still awesome, but now you’re at a place where nearly everyone is at least as awesome as you are. You may have an identity crisis because you’re not the best anymore and it may make you feel insecure if you’ve always been at the top of the heap. You can suddenly feel very small and lost. Recognize that there is a big huge world out there full of plenty of amazing people and that you are among the coolest, most friendly, motivated, big-picture thinkers you’ll ever meet. Tribe Pride ya’ll.
  8. The Triathalon. This is a series of 3 challenges you “must” complete before finishing your time at W&M. You must swim the Crim Dell (which is nasty), jump the Governor’s Palace Wall (which is pretty darn tall), and streak the Sunken Garden. It’s a pretty crazy tradition we have here at W&M, and one among many. To do “The Iron Man” is to do the full triathalon in one night, completely naked.
  9. If you are out near the Sunken Gardens late at night, you will see naked people. Especially on weekends. It’s just a fact. Thank you, Triathalon. You will realize though, that it’s so common that a lot of people don’t even get weirded out by it. It’s sort of an unspoken rule to respect those who have so courageously stripped down and felt the glorious Williamsburg night air in places where said air does not usually so freely circulate. If you see this in the daytime though, it is totally appropriate to freak out.
  10. You are a TWAMP. A Typical William And Mary Person. You care about school and will study hard. You like geeky things. You will turn down movie nights and parties when you have an exam coming up. You will TWAMP it up before tests and due dates and presentations. TWAMP is pretty common lingo at our school. [pagebreak]
  1. The buses are free with your W&M ID. Figure where buses can take you and get a handle on the bus system– it expands the realm of possibilities for you and your Saturdays.
  2. The Caf is arguably the best dining option. The food at Sadler and the Caf vary– the Caf is better at some things and Sadler is superior in others, but in general, the Caf has more options and seating than Sadler. Be sure to try both fairly regularly and figure out which ones you like best. You can check the menu ahead online as well!
  3. You can see if and when laundry machines are available using the e-suds W&M site. This ought to save you a few trips up and down stairs with your laundry.
  4. Beware the cobblestones and uneven pavements. They are not even and everyone trips at least once. Be especially careful if you’re in heels!
  5. If you’re sick and can’t drag yourself out to the dining hall, you can get a friend to take your ID card and a special form to pick it up for you so that you don’t have to use one of their swipes. Check it out on the CampusDish site, titled “Under The Weather” form.
  6. We actually do have an engineering program. Most people have no idea it’s out there. It’s basically a way to do school here and at either Rensselaer or Columbia with guaranteed admission to whichever you choose if you meet the program requirements, and get two degrees– one from W&M and one from either Rensselaer or Columbia. If engineering is something you’re considering, definitely read up on the page about our Engineering Program.

  7. Yes, you totally can join a really weird combination of clubs and not have anyone judge you for it.
    We are totally supportive of people with broad interests– they make for much cooler conversations. If you want to join Heavy Metal club and Ballroom dance, go for it. Basically, we’re the opposite of the school Troy Bolton went to in High School Musical. (Don’t lie, you probably watched it.)
  8. There are lots of mosquitoes on campus during this muggy, humid, hot period of the school year. In fact, I’m pretty sure the Grim Dell (not to be confused with the Crim Dell) is responsible for the majority of the mosquitoes in the Williamsburg area. Bring bug repellent.
  9. The Career Center is not just for upperclassmen. Visit the Career Center as early and as often as you can. They have been invaluable to me and they can help you get a head start on internships and resumes– which means you won’t have to scramble later. Don’t think that they can’t help you out now or that your career goals (whether you have them figured out or not) are less important just because you’re younger.
  10. Beware the Finals Fifteen! I was a victim to the Finals Fifteen myself. The Freshman Fifteen happen to someone throughout their Freshman Year as the result of a huge lifestyle change that many haven’t quite figured out how to balance yet. This often causes your eating or exercise patterns to shift, not always for the better. The Finals Fifteen is a little more insidious because it usually happens to those who managed to lose weight their Freshman Year. You gain it all back, and then some, just over the course of finals week(s), as you find yourself ruining your sleep cycle, downing sugar and caffeine to stay up late, getting no exercise in, and barely seeing the light of day. Oh and lots and lots of delivery pizza and midnight bacon binges. (Okay, I may be alone on that last one.)

Those are 20 things you should know about William and Mary that not many people tell you. If you’ve got questions about the school, don’t be afraid to ask, and be on the look-out for a HerCampus panel where we’ll answer your questions about WM, what it’s like, and our experiences here! 

Harper is a junior at the College of William and Mary, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Marketing. A DC-Area native, she serves as Co-President at Her Campus William and Mary. She spends her summers interning in Marketing. This past summer was spent in New York City working at OppenheimerFunds as a Digital Strategy Intern, and the year before at Gannett working as a Marketing and Promotions Intern in the Social Commerce Division. She hopes to slowly accomplish a few things on her list of ridiculous dreams including hugging a walrus and voicing a named Disney character in a movie.Blog || LinkedIn || Twitter
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