The first month in Williamsburg has flown by! I’ve been busy with independent research, which I’ll write about next week, and loving every minute. Besides that experience, my favorite part of this summer has been hearing what my friends are up to, whether they’re conducting research or taking classes in Williamsburg, working an internship, or traveling the world. I wanted to keep this first guest post close to home, though, so I asked my friend Hannah to write about her summer so far and share her tips for a successful summer in the Burg.
Hi there! My name is Hannah Kwawu and I’m a rising sophomore planning to declare as a Psychology major (and something else if I can manage to choose one subject)! I currently hail from Boston, and in my spare time I love sunbathing on the Sunken Garden and drinking way too much coffee in Swemromas. On campus I’m involved in a social sorority, all-female acapella group, and am a contributing writer for William & Mary’s HerCampus chapter. William & Mary has given me too many opportunities to continue being a workaholic with its diverse offerings of clubs, courses, and social settings.
DO teach yourself a new skill
Whether you’re taking classes, doing research, or working a full time job, summer in Williamsburg can get a bit tedious. Since you (hopefully!) have more free time than you do during the summer, commit yourself to learning something new outside of the classroom! Whether it’s learning a new skill or figuring out exactly how you make your favorite family recipe, summer is the perfect time to commit yourself to trying something new.
Pro Tip: If your interests are more on the DIY or food side, check out Pinterest or Buzzfeed for easy ideas to get you started. Both sites have a lot of simple ideas to get you started with (cheap) ways to get in touch with your creative side!
DO make an effort to meet new people
Let’s face it: everyone that is in Williamsburg over the summer is looking to spend time with people. However, because not everyone is on campus and only 3 of the dorms are open, it’s a lot more difficult than usual to socialize with your peers. Take the initiative: invite your lab mates out to dinner or grab coffee with someone from your class. If someone invites you to a party, grab some acquaintances and head over, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Who knows: maybe you’ll meet your future housemate!
Pro Tip: Facebook is your friend in the summer. A lot of people will make their events public because they’re just as interested in meeting people as you are! There are also tons of Facebook groups made by students looking for an easy way to interact with others on and around campus, which is especially helpful if you need a ride to the airport or up to DC.
DO take advantage of the bus system
This has been probably my biggest surprise of the summer—the WATA Bus Lines go everywhere! While it is common knowledge that students get on free with their student ID, very few people know exactly how far the buses can take them. It takes some time to explore all the routes; however, it’s worth knowing that you can get to mini golf in 15 minutes, or Starbucks in 10.
Pro Tip: Don’t want to wait out in the sun for the bus? The Williamsburg Amtrak Station is also the Williamsburg Transportation Center, meaning that all the buses stop there every 30 minutes to restart their route. There’s plenty of shade at the Amtrak station, and plus you’ll have access to the Gray, Red, Blue, Orange, and Tan lines all at once!
DON’T try to subsist on the summer meal plan alone (if you’re staying on campus)
I don’t know as much about this as I’m not staying on campus for the summer, but from what I know the meal plans are very limiting. For instance, this year Commons is the open dining hall, but all of the open dorms are near new campus. In addition, the dining hall keeps odd hours, which can be difficult depending on your schedule. The Williamsburg Trolley and the WATA buses head out to Food Lion—make some time to head out to Food Lion and grab some small items to keep your dorm room so you don’t have to wake up at 7 to get breakfast.
Pro Tip: If you’re staying off campus, try to carve out time to go grocery shopping once a week. Not only does it let you stock up on things you run out of quickly, but it also helps you budget your money more effectively, which is critical when you’re making your own food.
DON’T wait until last minute to get your housing situation figured out
As soon as you know you’re going to be in Williamsburg for the summer, start looking, otherwise you may end up in a less than ideal location in a price range you can’t afford. The William & Mary Off-Campus Housing research is a great place to start—a lot of renters post for summer subletters in the spring. There are also a couple of housing Facebook groups for people who are looking to sublet and to rent.
Pro Tip: if you’re staying on campus to do research, ask your professor about helping you fill out a research housing request form. Because of the College’s focus on research, they will pay for you to stay on campus, meaning you get to stay on campus for absolutely free! The deadline for these tends to be sort of early so make sure you’re on top of your game.
Staying in Williamsburg for the summer is a truly unique experience, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to cap off my freshman year. I’ve learned about myself, like how long I can subsist off of pasta (the answer is forever) and how to kill bugs when my housemate isn’t around. While everyone’s off campus experience is different, these few dos and don’ts will help you prepare for your first chance at real life!