I am sitting in Swem attempting to work on a paper (obviously it’s not going too well) and tapping my foot to George Michael’s song Faith. Last day of classes is this Friday…which is hard to believe. All that separates me from Friday is a paper, problem-set, and review activity. The paper is causing me a bit of angst (anyone know anything about the relationship between Iceland and the EU? Care to enlighten me?), but I’m excited to finish it up and then devote my full attention to preparing for finals.
I know that people often assume that William and Mary is extremely competitive and really difficult academically. From my experience, that is somewhat true. We do work hard. Our professors challenge us to stretch and grow and that process can be a bit painful. This semester I wrote my first fifteen page paper. Initially, the task was daunting. Something about the number 15 pages just felt insurmountable. Writing seven or eight pages was a piece of cake, but it took a lot of time and effort to reach that fifteen page mark. I just turned in that paper about a half hour ago and I am feeling mighty accomplished. I’m sure next semester will have me writing even longer and more involved papers and it will be just as painful of a process. But that’s how it works, right? Bit by bit we stretch ourselves and become better students, thinkers, and academics. So yes – we do work hard.
What isn’t true is that we are asked to do things that are impossible or that people here are cut-throat. I’ve been a bit stressed lately about getting everything done (and done well) and this has prompted me to get out and run more than usual. (I’m pretty sure I have shin splints, but my mom tells me I’m just being melodramatic.) It seems like around 9:30-10pm my urge to run kicks in and every time this has happened a hall mate has been willing to jog to CW with me. My friends have dropped what they were doing to help me relieve my stress. These people have their own projects, papers, and tests, but they are still here to support me. I’m still there to support them. This support network is invaluable. I could provide so many examples of times when a friend has done something nice for me because she knew I was having a difficult week.
I guess I want to leave you with an excerpt from an email I received last week from a friend who I’ve known since middle school. She’s now a freshman here at William and Mary…
“I am sitting on a dryer in the middle of its cycle drying my clothes (getting my [butt] burned because the top is rather hot), waiting for water to boil on the stove nearby so I can make tortellini, hunched over my laptop listening to a boy soprano sing a soaring solo in an Anglican church piece we do in Schola while writing about the Da Vinci code.
I suddenly realized how happy I am.”
I have those moments all of the time. Usually I’m doing something really banal like sitting in Barnes and Noble, eating an apple, and working on a paper and it just hits me how content I am.
William and Mary is my home. I’m so happy to be here.