Map Diary Reflection

My activities on April 16, 2009 very accurately represent a normal day for me as a college student at William & Mary. As a senior living off-campus and a Young Life volunteer leader in the greater Williamsburg community, much of my day takes place off campus. In fact, I calculated that of my “awake time” on April 16, only 3 ½ hours were spent on campus, while over 12 hours were spent off campus. In addition, of the 12 hours off campus, only about 4 were spent in my house. I realized that I only go to campus when I absolutely need to – such as for a class, group project, to go to the library, or to print something from a computer lab. Otherwise, I eat, sleep, and do everything else off campus. It was also interesting for me to map out my route at the end of the day because it made me wonder how much gasoline I went through! It amazed me how many times I drove up and down Richmond Road, the fact that I went to New Town twice and the huge geographic circle that my tracks made in Williamsburg.

On my campus map, I tried drawing a line tracking my steps, but it ended up being messy; my lines overlapped (since I often drove the same road more than once), and my route looked muddled. I also felt very limited with the campus map since I went off campus so much during the day – I found it very hard to adequately show how long and how far distance-wise I had been gone from campus. I had to write my off campus activities in the cramped margin, which did not show at all how far I had gone for each of those stops. It would have been interesting to fill out map of greater Williamsburg as well as a campus map to get a better idea of the scope of our route.

I enjoyed creating my own map of Williamsburg because it tested my sense of direction in the city. It was challenging to visualize where Second Street, Queens Lake, my Uncle Jeff’s house were in relation to the campus. I realized that I view campus as the center of Williamsburg; however, this is most likely not true for most Williamsburg residents. They might consider greater Richmond Road the “center” or the former Confusion Corner as the center of the city. Younger people might even view New Town as the new center of the city. It shows that I tend to think that “my world” is the center of everyone else’s world, while in reality Williamsburg is much more far-reaching than that. One direction that I travel often but did not venture down on April 16 was Richmond Road out to Toano. The development near Toano shows the growth of Williamsburg into a much larger city than it was ten years ago.

The setbacks were that my handmade map was not drawn to scale and that I wasn’t able to accurately represent the distance from campus to Queens Lake neighborhood or to New Town. I had to simply draw them next to the campus and hope that the viewer has an idea of the location of these other places. If I had a bigger map I think I would draw my actual tracks to show my route.

Overall, it was a very positive experience mapping my activities for a day. It showed the way place is so key to a person’s daily routine, and the places I went to revealed things about my life in college. My “coffee dates” are spent off campus (at Great Harvest Bread in New Town, for example), and I drive to class from my house off campus. Since I’m not on a meal plan, the snacks and meals I get are also off campus (7-11, Great Harvest, my home on Matoaka Court). The fact that I am able to drive a car separates me from many students who do not have that opportunity. The car enables me to travel to the ends of the city whenever I need to.

My daily route also tells the viewer the way Young Life is part of what I do; I drive to high school girls’ houses (I’m already friends with them through coaching, etc.) and hang out with them there or in another space. A big chunk of my time off campus on April 16 was in the Queens Lake neighborhood with two high school girls. Also, because of volunteering with Young Life, I’ve been able to visit all the public high schools and private schools in Williamsburg and I have a sense of Williamsburg’s school system and the two counties, James City and York Counties.

It was a little frustrating to be limited to such a small (8.5×11) sheet of paper for my hand drawn map and the campus map, but I think it was good to be clear and concise in the way I chose to track my route. I thought the number system would be a neat and clear way for the viewer to find the number and look below to read what I did at each corresponding place. I will be interested to see what my classmates decided to do with this assignment and to see where they went in Williamsburg – where they went will probably reveal much about what they’re involved in and also what spaces they most frequent on or off campus.


About

The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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