A few years ago, jeffz compiled this invaluable post, “Things to Do in Billsville When You’re Dead.” Take note, 2019’ers!
[NB: this is a repost from last year, but I think warranted considering the collective thought that went into it. Moreover, I’m curious if a new crop of Ephs / readers have any additional suggestions. Apologies for any links that are no longer functional.]
Unless things have changed dramatically since my time at Williams, one of the favorite pastimes of students is to lament (a) the dearth of off-campus social options in Williamstown (b) the lack of area date venues and (c) the repetitiveness of campus social life. If you are tired of the typical row house party scene and/or desperately need a break from late nights studying in the library, all it takes is a little creativity to find a surprisingly rich panoply of cool things to do. As highlighted in this previous post by Larry George, the college has already offered a list of 59 alternatives. [This excellent list appears to have vanished. Has it just been moved to some other location on the Williams site?]
But this list just scratches the surface. So, new and returning students, Ephblog’s gift to you: our collective list of additional recommendations for your four years at Williams, derived from the comments to the previous post, among other sources. Not all of these will interest all of you, but everyone should find at least a handful of appealing ideas out of the 123 (and counting) suggested to date by the college and by Ephblog readers. Full list below the break.
(1) Spend a summer in Williamstown. Get to know some of the famous actors in town for the Williamstown Theater Festival.
(2) Play trivia this Winter Study.
(3) Attend at least one home and one away basketball game vs. Amherst (the away games are especially fun when you can organize a massive crowd to drown out the home fans). During the trip over, design creative taunts bashing the ‘herst
(4) Get your folks or your friends’ folks to spring for a dinner at Mezze.
(5) Try to make the wall of fame at Jack’s Hot Dogs (NB: prepare to spend next 24 hours in serious discomfort).
(6) Attend at least one home soccer game on a gorgeous fall day: no athletic setting is more amazing.
(7) Visit a local farm. Pick apples. Buy local or Vermont cheese to go with them. If you add a good loaf of bread, you have the makings of an excuse for a hike, bike ride, or cross country ski to go with the picnic. Consult with the Outing Club: Hanging Rock? Monumental Mountain? Broad Brook?
(8) Do the weekly Polar Bear Swim in the Green River with the Outing Club — the colder the better. Extra points if you have to break ice. Infinite extra points on the coolness and Ephness scales at your 50th if you did every swim for a whole academic year.
(9) Break your personal mold and do something wildly different for a Winter Study project (or if something wild enough is not available, design a 99).
(10) Take a Free University class. Better yet, design and teach one.
(11) Invent a sandwich at Pappa C’s (if you are as lucky / creative as Margaret Howell ’96, you might even get your name in lights …. errr, wood).
(12) Make snow sculpture at Winter Carnival so sweet that people will still reminisce fifty years later.
(13) Practice uncomfortable learning, Gaudino style.
(14) Egg a curmudgeon on into doing something fun.
(15) Explore the steam tunnels.
(16) Stay out late drinking with a professor.
(17) Watch the sun rise on Easter morning from Petersburg Pass.
(18) Do a service trip during spring break.
(19) Sit on a stone bench in the cemetery in the middle of the night talking about life, the universe, and everything.
(20) Play in the rain.
(21) Waste three hours talking to every random acquaintance who comes into the snack bar. Eat grilled honeybuns while doing so.
(22) Do the Pratt-to-Pratt run (a relay-style, early morning naked run from Williams to Amherst prior to an away football game).
(23) First-years: find out which of your classmates have never seen snow fall. Throw them a snowperson building and snowball fight party when the first good snowfall comes.
(24) Do a WOOLF trip. Then become a WOOLF leader the next year and then a leader instructor/planner/equipment manager that.
(25) Surprise the whole campus with a well organized, clever prank.
(26) Design a witty Williams-themed t-shirt and donate the proceeds to a local charity.
(27) Write a post on Ephblog. Or if too cool for that, start a discussion on WSO.
(28) Attend the Williamstown Film Festival at Images.
(29) Fall in love.
(31) Take the most interesting conversationalist you know to Hopkins Forest, find a great log, split a six pack of beer, and relive the spirit of Mark Hopkins.
(32) Plan a really cool event at The Log that will get the campus excited about this underutilized venue.
(33) DJ at WCFM, or else hang with your friends when they DJ — especially late at night when hardly anyone is listening and you can do and say anything.
(34) Partake in KAOS.
(35) Attend an event thrown by a cultural group from outside your own background, such as the Moon Festival.
(36) Go to a Williams-student cooked Sabbath dinner at the JRC.
(37) Perform in something you’ve never tried before (a student-directed play, one of the singing / dance groups, etc.).
(38) Invite a professor for a drink at your coop / dorm (or think of another creative way to get to know professors, and get funding from the college to do so).
(39) Drop by office hours to learn how a professor got interested in his/her field.
(40) Stand outside late at night and listen to the silence when it snows.
(41) Tour the various old frat houses and check out all of their “secret” rooms. (Personal favorite: the Perry goat room …).
(42) Check out the witty and whimsical tombstone inscriptions in the Williams College Cemetery that supposedly gave rise to the comment of a philosophy professor that “they make you worry that faculty meetings never end.” Two markers of particular note: Michael Davitt Bell’s, and the backside of S. Lane Faison’s.
(43) Play beach volleyball behind Perry House.
(44) Explore the ruins of the Chapin Hall organ.
(45) Buy a Lindt chocolate bar at Hart’s and then spend the evening eating it while reading old magazines in the library stacks (one favorite was Esquire from the 1930’s, but you could do Life in the 1950’s, Time in the 1960’s, etc.).
(46) Take a walk around the non-Spring Street parts of town. Start with the Cole Avenue area and eat breakfast at Leo’s Luncheonette.
(47) Get to know locals over a drink at the American Legion, Water Street Grill, the 6 House Pub, the Red Herring, or a breakfast at Leo’s (this one’s for you, PTC!).
(48) Volunteer locally. Some good options: a local school, the Williamstown Youth Center, the Berkshire Food Pantry, Sweetbrook, or the Williamstown Commons.
(49) Read the Alumni review from 10, 25 or 50 years ago and compare it to life at Williams now.
(50) Find random, old-school Williams gear on ebay, impress friends with unique suite decor.
(52) Get to know someone at the CDE, have lunch with them and their colleagues.
(53) Go to Sawyer Library and find out who certain houses are named for and why.
(54) Go to Pub lunch in the middle of the week in the sunshine and then attempt your afternoon class while slightly altered. (When the Purple Pub finally re-opens…).
(55) Find your way to the Preston Room in the basement of Stetson at night and tell ghost stories.
(56) Attend any event in the old lecture room in Griffin 3 (I think I have that number right) as the late afternoon sun filters in.
(57) Sunbathe on Chapin Beach.
(58) Check out the Williamsiana collection in Chapin Library.
(59) Play snowball tag in the quad of your choice.
(60) Check the performing arts calendar at MassMoca and check out something off the beaten track (while you are there, be sure to check out the Saul Lewitt exhibit, which is sure to impress ANY visitor from out of town).
(61) Play frisbee golf on campus / on the Taconic.
(62) Predict Mountain Day and go for a sunrise hike. At the top of Stone Hill, you can even hear the bells play “The Mountains” as the Sun is coming up.
(64) Design a creative, original prank for a Williams-Amherst sporting event that will be remembered fondly for years.
And finally, do something certainly iconoclastic, foreseeably not to be permitted by the College for mention on any of its silly ass, sanitary posters and also probably immature and foolish, of which all or almost all of those of authority in your life would strongly disapprove!