Second Year, First Impressions

The second year transition is known to be tough on some students. Leaving the institution you call home, the friends you’ve made over the past year, and going through the stresses of reforming those bonds proves difficult. However, getting over the first bumps is smoothed along by the orientation systems that each university runs, and once you get past the tougher issues of the transition, you can fully embrace the ~WaMStA experience~.

Here are some reactions to those programs, and some first impressions from our Second Year students.

St Andrews Home Students – Now at William and Mary
Peter, a second year student from Atlanta, made his way to the William & Mary campus in late August. Some of his immediate reactions to the differences between campuses include “the difference in words… cheers, mate, posh, cheeky are all but nonexistent in the American vernacular. It’s been a lot of fun explaining all the various terms and phrases to my new friends.”

Furthermore, “the College is rich with the history of our founding fathers, the beauty of red brick and extensive forestry, and the humidity of Atlanta… I had a few immediate responses to my placement back into the US. First of all, the food is MUCH better, which is interesting because most students see the W&M meal plan as mediocre at best, whereas for me, between the variety and more importantly the availability, this American cuisine couldn’t get much better.”

Peter continues, “Orientation differs greatly from that of St Andrews. There was no shortage of mandatory meetings, many that didn’t necessarily pertain to me as I was part of the Transfer Orientation group, but the OA (Orientation Aids) were extremely welcoming…”

Lastly, not only do the two campuses have a different social atmosphere, but the academic attitudes at either contrast as well. Peter noted that in comparison to the “TWAMP,” St Andrews students prefer to take things slower. Of course this is partly due to the sub-honours system, but Peter said, “I think among some of the things I’ve really learned from St Andrews is to take a step back to figure out what excites me to the extent that I can enjoy college while working smarter, not harder – a balance that I know we all struggle to perfect.”

William and Mary welcoming New Students. Photo by Stephen Salpukas. Find the rest here,


W&M Home Students – Now at St Andrews

Some WaMStA Second Year students after completely the traditional pier walk together.
Some WaMStA Second Year students after completely the traditional pier walk together. Photo courtesy of Lucy Saltmarsh.


Lucy, an english major also from Atlanta, knew that Freshers Week at St Andrews was more about the social aspect of arriving at a new place but was still stunned by how different it was from William & Mary’s orientation. “All of the activities being optional was a huge difference. Academic activities in particular had to be sought out. I found it easier to meet people all throughout my dorm at St Andrews, as compared to just my hall at William & Mary, since the dorm itself put on loads of activities.”

My favorite orientation event at William & Mary was probably the magic show and the activities at Kaplan where you were divided up by dorm. Similarly, [the St Andrew’s event] “Clan Warfare,” where the halls were pitted against each other, was one of my favorites here. My second favorite St Andrews orientation activity was “give it a go” day where you were able to get a feel from the different sports teams before having to make commitments.”

Meher, a history major, noticed similar differences, writing “St A’s orientation was far more loose and you really had to make your own fun. The free time was almost oppressive at first, but it actually helped prepare me for the rest of year, since we only do have three classes and thus a lot of free time. It’s a good way to kind of force yourself to socalise and though it’s a bit daunting at first even now I can see how great of a way it was to meet people! Also, societies put on like 6000 events during it so that is also a great way to learn more about the school and indulge your interests. W&M’s orientation is more rigid and structured, but as a first year student I think it really benefitted me. It helps you acclimate to college nicely and bonding with your hall is the prime way to make friends there.”

Lucy has also noticed that the dorm culture is a little different at St Andrews, for instance, “at William and Mary I was insanely close with my hall both following orientation week and the rest of the year. This year I feel less close with my physical hall, but know more people throughout the dorm as a whole.”


In addition to blog posts you’ll find on this site, many students have personal blogs to document and keep family updated on their studies! Check them out below!

You can keep up with Peter on his blog, which is also a great resource to learn about the freshers experience at St Andrews.

Meilan Solly is running a blog on her St Andrews experience in the Flat Hat which can be found here, She has posted about her first impressions, orientation, and the differences in curriculum. Similarly, Anna-Leigh Ong is running her blog through the Flat Hat, where she’s talked about watching a rugby match and fresher’s week as well. Check it out here,



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