September 7, 2012 by Elizabeth Miller
You know that feeling of opening a book you’ve been dying to read. Or even better, the feeling of opening a book you’ve read at least ten times before, but you’re just as eager for the 11th. That moment of knowing that what you’re about to immerse yourself in will be at the same time comforting–returning to a world full of characters you already know and love–and exhilarating because once again you will be plunged into a world that is not your own, and no matter how many times you have read those words before there are still moments that catch you and hurry you away to this whole other place and time.
If you can draw that feeling up within yourself, that delightful mix of assurance (This is going to be good!) and excitement (How is this going to be good this time?), you know how I feel about the classes I took at William and Mary.
Fall classes started a week and a half ago. On that day I parked a little farther away so I had to walk a bit of campus to get to my office. As I walked what days before had been a relatively quiet and empty campus, but was now full of streaming lines of students heading in and out of the Sadler Center, some marching to the beat of their iPods into Old Campus and others chatting with friends on their way to New Campus, I felt the most wonderful version of jealousy.
It was the jealousy of knowing that I am not meant for those classrooms anymore, but those students are. They get to walk in and sit down and learn. For freshmen, it is their first, perhaps slightly scary, read through of the William and Mary classroom experience. But like that favorite book, after your first semester at William and Mary, the concept of a college class–a W&M class–is no longer an unknown. Each course, however, is a new adventure. With earlier registration as an upperclassmen and years of experience, you can begin to have more choice—selecting courses in your major, repeatedly putting yourself in the classrooms of your favorite professors, and planning schedules that allow you to sit in class with friends. On that first day of class the story itself has yet to unfold, but you are there and able to dive in to that delightful mix.
Which is what, on that morning a week and a half ago, left me jealous: the great unknown of what I could soak up if I were in that classroom and the trust that I would have professors and classmates, texts and lectures that would teach me. Sitting in a William and Mary classroom is that favorite book I love to return to, that assuredly exhilarating thrill of the learning provided by my beloved alma mater.