Much to my disappointment, Williamsburg bypassed autumn last week. Mother Nature continues to bestow chilly and damp days on the College of William and Mary, thrusting us into an early winter rather than letting us indulge in fall.
The swamp’s miserable weather has done little to alleviate the Tribe’s seemingly drained spirit. The five weeks separating fall break and Thanksgiving are exhausting. After muddling through midterms and hoisting ourselves through Homecoming and Halloweekend, merely trudging from class to class is an insurmountable feat. With perennial angst over class registration and mid semester academic anxiety, it becomes easy to feel as grey as the daunting skies above campus.
To cope with the November blues, my friends and I began to experiment with different methods of stress relief. Taking late-night walks around Colonial Williamsburg was enjoyable at first, yet we quickly came to realize that stumbling in the darkness amidst piles of horse residue was a dangerous gamble. Lattes from Swemromas were a promising prospect, but our feeble freshman meal plans proved incapable of supporting such a demanding budget.
Finally, we found our emotional outlet: ballroom dancing on the steps of the Wren Building. What began as a half-hearted lesson inspired by my introductory kinesiology course became a ridiculously precious way of brightening up frigid November nights; tears wash away easily with a few turns of the tango, and academic stress melts away with the salsa. A few repetitions of the cha-cha changed our mood for the better, and left us feeling recharged for the final sprint to Thanksgiving and winter break. Getting away from work to relax, even if just for a few minutes, proved dramatically effective in assuaging our nerves.
Being able to pursue adorable hobbies at the drop of a hat (with the backdrop of such a scenic environment) is one of the College’s most redeeming qualities. Plenty of other universities boast about their scholastic prowess and international prestige, but only the College offers the chance of dancing the Viennese waltz upon the hallowed steps of the nation’s oldest academic building. These opportunities are unique to the Tribe, and I value them tremendously.
I understand, and wholeheartedly sympathize with, the common gripes of living in Williamsburg. The social scene can be disappointing, the difficulty in reaching cities like Richmond and Washington D.C. is frustrating and, compared to the urban universities scattered across the Eastern Seaboard, our sleepy wooded suburb is admittedly dull.
I urge everyone, especially new students, to discover their own ways of quelling stress and combatting seasonal dreariness.
But during times of personal and academic stress, I am endlessly grateful for the College’s history and beauty, as it makes even the simplest of interactions more rewarding. Whether it’s ballroom dancing at Wren, meandering through Matoaka or streaking the Sunken Garden, we all have our unique methods of stress relief which are tailor-made for the College. The strength and camaraderie cultivated by these habits is emblematic of our community’s warmth and passion.
I urge everyone, especially new students, to discover their own ways of quelling stress and combatting seasonal dreariness. Maybe an impromptu ballroom dancing session will work for you too.
Email Ethan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.