As Turkey Day (or as my fellow vegetarians call it: Tofurkey Day) approaches, most will take this time to reflect upon the many blessings they have experienced in their lives. I have mulled over the notion and decided that I am most thankful for the many adventures, people, and places that have touched my life through the College of William & Mary. Impromptu football games in the rain, late night trips into haunted Colonial Williamsburg, meeting your best friends and partners in crime, or simply canoeing peacefully on Lake Matoka’s serene waters….the College has provided me with countless good memories. However, if I am forced to narrow down this broad group of good fortunes (and for the feasibility of this blog), I would have to choose the ability to see the world as the number one reason I am thankful for W&M.
Coming from a small town where the biggest news is the new Wal-Mart is now stocking tires AND mattresses, I can safely say I had not seen much of what this big globe had to offer. Growing up in a rural area, I spent many childhood days dreaming of visiting medieval castles, climbing the Eiffel Tower, and gallivanting around Europe. Sadly, my family travels and experiences never led me north of the Mason Dixon or west of the Mississippi River before entering the College.
Since I walked those fateful steps through the Wren Building freshman year, I have gone from zero to 60 with regards to world travel. During the past five years, I have traveled to 14 foreign countries and lived in four! W&M made it possible for me to study abroad in France, teach English in Bosnia, conduct independent research in Paris and Vienna, and live in the Black Forest (ledershosen and all!)
I am not simply grateful for W&M granting me the time, location, or money to make these experiences a reality. I am honestly forever indebted to the College for what she provided in the way of personal growth and understanding from these trips. Throughout these journeys, I have met some of the most influential people to shape the emerging person I would eventually become. Bosnian farmers, French school teachers, German musicians, Dutch carpenters, and British journalists are now among some of my favorite human beings and dearest friends. The pit falls (including taking the wrong 12 hour train, falling through a frozen lake in Switzerland, and getting lost on the Prague subways) and triumphs together created memories this small town girl could only dream of before moving to Williamsburg.
W&M afforded me the opportunity to push myself outside that comfortable yet sheltered bubble and open my eyes to the wonders that is surviving on one’s own in a foreign country (including European driving and dancing in clogs). This story is just one in a million myself and my fellow Tribesmen can describe on why W&M is so meaningful in our lives. As you sit around the table today, a day for reflection and gratitude, and gobble pounds of good ole American cooking, take the time to consider what such a giving environment can do for you.
– Amanda Norris