The rain was pelting scowling students as they rushed between classes. It was the height of midterms, I was feeling the pressure of freshman year. With a dark grey sky and the damp smell of leaves in the air, I was traversing the Sunken Garden after completing my Geology midterm. Oh, and it was my birthday. I had been so incredibly busy that I did not even think about how the day had crept up in the midst of papers, extracurricular commitments, and tests. Yet, here it was–drenched in cold autumn rain and shrouded in an impermeable blanket of clouds. I had the rest of my day ahead of me, and no idea how I could turn this gloomy day into a celebratory one.
Then I ran into my friend, Paul (who I had only just met about a month earlier as a new student). “How are you, Kira?!” he shouted. When I told him I had just finished an exam, with a tremendous sigh of relief, and that it was my birthday, he stopped me. “What are you doing to celebrate?” he asked. I wasn’t sure yet. “We’re going to a movie, then! Meet me at six.” I was shocked and completely overcome with surprise. My day sped by and that evening, I met Paul for a quick dinner and a movie. When I returned to my dorm that evening, I was elated and perfectly satisfied at having had a wonderful day and having realized that I made an even more wonderful friend.
But the surprises were hardly over. As I took off my squeaky-wet boots, another friend of mine from my hall came to the door. Alyssa asked me if I would mind stopping by another friend’s room to see something she picked up in Colonial Williamsburg that day. I slid down the hall behind her in my socks, and turned the corner into the room to find almost my ENTIRE freshman hall crammed into my friend’s double-size dorm room! “SURPRISE!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!” they all yelled, simultaneously laughing and hugging me. They all had cards or small gifts, and they had baked a cake for me. I was so stunned it almost brought me to tears. These were girls I had only just met–who lived on my freshman hall and came from numerous backgrounds and locations that differed enormously from mine. But we were all laughing, eating cake and candy, and blasting music on a gloomy night in October together.
And I knew in that moment, flushed with the joy of feeling truly welcome in a new place, that I was home. These people were my W&M family, and this was not just the W&M community, but my community. It’s not always about the big scenes–it’s about the little ones as well. It’s the moments you share with new friends, your freshman hall…that remind you why you’re here. To this day, that is one of my fondest college memories.
Class of 2010