Last weekend, I was able to make it back for my first W&M Homecoming as an alum! It was really great to see everyone again – moving down here has been amazing, but I definitely have been really missing my friends and sisters back in Williamsburg. I split the hotel room with my Fake Big (For non-greek readers, a fake big is someone who takes you under their wing, similar to the big/little relationship but not exactly), which was great because we haven’t been able to see each other since before my graduation in May.
While we were there, we went to the Campus Shop and the Bookstore to look at WM gear, particularly a hat for her. I was tempted to get a couple things, but said I needed less WM stuff and more Bama stuff – which sparked an interesting comment from her. (Disclosure: I’ve turned 95% of my WM stuff into a tshirt quilt, so I don’t really need to add more shirts haha) Her comment was that she didn’t understand how I could have so much pride in my grad school – it was something she’d never heard of before from other friends who went on to graduate programs, and it got me thinking, why do I love it here so much?
The best explanation I could come up with was the community that the University of Alabama Graduate School has created here – even from the first few moments of GTA Orientation everyone is excited to be here, and excited that you’re here. It’s great. And the anthropology department itself is just fantastic. The students all work together to help each other out, and the professors really care how you’re doing and how you’re handling things. Encouragement and a sense of belonging are pretty much everywhere, and it’s infectious to a point. At times, I feel more at home here than I ever really did at WM – a strange, but also really great, feeling. It’s not the school that makes you have pride in it – it’s the people you meet, the experiences and interactions you have, and the way those in the school administration attempt to make every student feel welcome that makes the difference. It’s not that I didn’t feel at home, or love, William & Mary, it’s that here I feel all of that even more so.