I hesitate to write another post about being at K while everyone else is abroad, but the reality is that even if you don’t choose to study in another place during your junior year, you will constantly be hearing about it. The fact is, study abroad programs are a very large part of Kalamazoo College student culture.
Just as the dust begins to settle around juniors who are excited for their year in a foreign land, sophomores begin to apply for their opportunity during winter quarter, once again filling the air on campus with talk of Senegal and Australia and Edinburgh and Budapest. Then in spring quarter, there will be a new energy on campus, that of juniors returning from studying abroad who are filled with stories of their experiences and a wealth of new knowledge.
In truth, I don’t regret my status as an on-campus junior, even though it wasn’t necessarily my choice to give up studying abroad; however, I always feel a little pang of jealousy every time I hear about the wonderful experiences that people have.
Sometimes it can make me feel a little disconnected from other K students to know that I won’t have the opportunity to participate in the experience that so many students share. In those moments I have to force myself to reconnect through going to K events and participating in activities held by the Office of Student Involvement. Because of my interest in social justice and my love of literature and media, I’ve found that keeping a close eye on the events being held at the Arcus Center is a good way to connect with other students that share my passions—sometimes even other juniors who have similar experiences about feeling left behind on campus. Plus, the quarterly On-Campus Junior dinners help a lot too (hello, free food!).
I’m still working on being completely happy for my friends and acquaintances who have had wonderful study abroad experiences and want to share them with me. I won’t lie, at times it is difficult to keep those pangs of jealousy in check and be a supportive friend, but I’m working on it. I know that the person I want to be would be happy for others’ happiness, and hopefully I can do that come spring quarter.