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Freshman Startup Guide

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August 19, 2016

1:23 AM

Where to Eat

Navigating all of the different dining options at the College of William & Mary isn’t always easy. The same dining hall doesn’t always hit the spot every single day, so make sure to tailor your dining experience accordingly.

Although the College is not known for its dining hall food, it’s not hard to find the right meal on campus. The College has three dining halls; the two main contenders are the Caf and Sadler. While some students like the cuisine offered at one more than the other, the choice between the two usually boils down to location. For a more upscale dining experience, one meal swipe and two dining dollars will get students a specially prepared three course meal at the Chancellor’s Bistro in the Caf. Marketplace, the College’s third main dining area, is much smaller than the Caf and Sadler, but many students prefer the taste of conveniently-packaged food and enjoy the grill area which offers freshly made burgers, chicken tenders and the like. Marketplace accepts both dining dollars and meal swipes.

There is plenty of delicious food on and off campus that can be purchased with Dining Dollars. Coffee lovers can get their fill of mochas and Snickers lattes at Swemromas. Students who fill up their Swemromas punch card with ten drinks can get their eleventh drink for free. Swemromas also offers a special drink of the week, most famously serving up the delicious “Gossip Squirrel” some weeks. Other on-campus options include Cosi, The Student XChange Tribe Market, two food trucks (Wholly Habaneros and BBQ 1693) and the Argo Tea Café in the Business School.

Flex can also be spent off campus. One of the most popular off-campus options is The Crust, a pizzeria located in Tribe Square. The Crust also serves sandwiches, salads and pasta. One of the main attractions of The Crust is the skillet cookie, served warm with vanilla ice cream. Some students maintain that the skillet cookie should be split, but others defend that it is meant for one.

New students should make sure to stretch their Dining Dollars. They become more valuable further into the semester, when the cafeteria food just doesn’t taste as good as it did at the beginning of the school year.

All dining halls close at 8 pm. Students who either missed or were not satisfied with their dinner can dine at Sadler’s Late Night. Students can use meal swipes for Sadler’s food or dining dollars to order Qdoba up until midnight. However, the sooner you make it to the Qdoba, the better chance you have of getting guacamole. Another popular late night option is Wawa. Unfortunately, Wawa doesn’t take Flex or Express and often becomes too crowded to safely navigate with a bowl of mac and cheese late Friday and Saturday night.

The Grind, which is located by the Sadler Center, serves a variety of soups, sandwiches and rice bowls, in addition to their delicious coffees and teas. Unfortunately, the food at the Grind must be paid for using real money, not dining dollars. Even more choices open up when venturing off campus with actual currency in hand, including dining options in Colonial Williamsburg such as The Cheese Shop or The Blue Talon Bistro.

Where to Study

Unlike high school, your room might not always be the best place to hunker down and study. Consider testing out a few places on campus before you choose your go-to study place.

Perhaps the most popular place to study on campus is Earl Gregg Swem Library. Studying at Swem is so common that students have dubbed the act of doing so “swemming.” The library has three floors and unwritten rules about the noise levels that pertain to each floor. The first floor is the noisiest. People often talk freely as they study together and share pizza and Aroma’s bagels. The second floor is quieter. Students limit conversation to whispers. The third floor is completely silent except for the occasional sound of typing or backpacks opening. It’s said that dropping a pen or squeaky shoes will attract glares from other students. But, freshmen shouldn’t be intimidated by the stories they hear about the third floor. It’s simply a place where everyone respects each other’s desire to study together in silence. The basement of Swem, home to the Reeder Digital Media Center, also provides a silent study space for students.

Students can also reserve private study rooms through the library’s website. The study rooms are located on all three floors; however, not all study rooms are created equal. Some have tables that are meant for group studying, while others have desks meant for individual studying. Study rooms are usually equipped with either whiteboards or projectors.

Another popular place to study within Swem is the coffee shop, colloquially known as Swemromas as it is a branch of the Aroma’s in Colonial Williamsburg. Like the first floor, Swemromas is filled with food and lively conversation. It’s the perfect place for freshmen who used to study in coffee shops back at home.

The Mason School of Business isn’t just for business students. After classes are done, rooms within the building are open to all students. Most students in the building study silently. Students can also take advantage of various academic buildings on campus or of the study lounges in their dorms.

During early fall and late spring, some students feel that their study days are better spent outdoors. There are plenty of places to get some fresh air while studying around campus. Students don’t have to venture too far to find all of these outdoor study spots. Most dorm complexes have tables and benches located nearby that are perfect for outdoor studying. The umbrella-topped tables outside of the Sadler Center allow students to study, eat and enjoy the outdoors all at the same time. Students can also grab a cup of coffee and study on the patio outside of the Daily Grind. For a more stately outdoor study experience, the quad in the back of the Business School is open to all students.

Studying at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater is also an option, one that provides more peace and quiet than do the Sunken Gardens.. The path to the amphitheater is located between the Business School and the police station parking garage. At the amphitheater, students can study in the sun and enjoy a lakeside view without the added background noise of Frisbee on the lawn. Some students even study on the Lake Matoaka dock for an unobstructed view of the lake at the risk of soggy textbooks.

How to Get Involved

The activities fair can be an overwhelming experience for most freshmen. William and Mary Hall is filled with hundreds of clubs all vying for new members. Signing up for lots of clubs is not necessarily a bad thing. The emails clubs send out about meetings and upcoming events can help students decide if they want to join, and often require no actual commitment.

Around 29 percent of students belong to one of the 16 fraternities or  9 sororities on campus. The College also has fraternities dedicated to music, business, service and academics.

Club sports are also a good way to meet new people and stay in shape. Several club sports teams travel, but each team varies in its level of competitiveness. Club sports often have two different levels so even students who have never played that sport before should feel comfortable signing up.

Students don’t need to be members of clubs or pledge a sorority or fraternity in order to participate in campus life. For example, every year sororities and fraternities host philanthropic events like dodgeball, campus golf and night volleyball that are open to all students. Music clubs like Front Porch Society and WCWM, the College’s radio station, host concerts that feature student bands.

Students can also get into the music and arts scene on campus. Student plays and productions take place in PBK throughout the year. The College’s 11 a cappella groups are also available for students to join or even just jam out to at their concerts. New students should also take advantage of the College’s fall and spring concerts. Last year in the spring, students were able to see The Chainsmokers and their opening act New Politics for just $15. This fall, the Welcome Back Concert, hosted by the College’s AMP, has Parachute headlining with Firekid opening for them.

There’s something fun happening on campus almost every weekend. The College sends Student Happenings emails weekly to notify students of upcoming events, and Facebook is also a great resource to stay up to date on campus events.

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About Author

  • Akemi Tamanaha

Akemi Tamanaha '19 is a government and economics double major from Sacramento, CA.