Returning to campus after being abroad for a year was surreal. Thankfully, my dad accompanied me on the long trip from Oregon to Michigan to help me with some of the logistics of transitioning back to K, including moving into a house off campus!
The first few days were definitely hectic – moving everything from storage that I hadn’t seen for a year and a half… moving in a desk, a loveseat, a mini-fridge, a dresser… buying a mattress and mattress frame and moving it in… buying lighting and a side table…
But I have since been reunited with my tea collection!
My dad also helped find me a car to use this year for various reasons including getting to a job just outside of Kalamazoo. Then there were logistics around insurance, registration, etc.…
Anyway, I am all settled now and happy to be back!
So far I love the perks of living off campus. It’s still only about a 10-minute walk for me to get to class, I live in a gorgeous historical neighborhood, I get a relatively large room to myself (without having to pay a fee as you would on campus), I get to cook in a bigger kitchen, and I have a family of housemates to come home to!
My first time walking around campus alone since being back, I took my time and soaked it in. I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed being on campus. Walking around Hicks Center was weird and comforting at the same time, and I had flashbacks to silly moments with friends. Soon enough, I saw professors I had grown close to but whom I hadn’t seen since sophomore year, and I saw friends I had made in France but hadn’t seen for 6 months – hugs went all around that first week!
It’s been bizarre, though, because as a Sophomore, you make connections with Seniors and First Years, but this year, all those Seniors are long gone, and those First Years are now mostly Juniors abroad. You feel as if everyone is a new face again… but that’s exciting as well! Besides, it’s not hard to meet new people just through classes, and beyond that, just by getting involved a little.
Being thrown back into a rigorous K schedule was definitely a challenge (I’d say I only now feel fully comfortable with it and as if I have everything mostly figured out – between paying housing bills to my Senior Individualized Project research to my two jobs), but I was reminded of how positive of an environment it really is for me.
I missed being in a highly academic environment, and being surrounded by a community of people who are all passionate about learning. Being in France was a fair amount of independent research and less class time. Expectations in classes were lower because we were learning a language and engaging with host families at the same time as taking classes, which is great, but I was ready to be forced to really challenge myself academically again. I had a yearning for the intensity of K, and having somewhat of a break from it has made it all the sweeter getting back into the swing of things!
-Alexandra Smith ’16