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Quarter by Quarter

The way that we morph each year – each quarter, even – still amazes me. My experience at K has greatly changed me, and itʼs crazy to think how each quarter takes place largely in the same 60 acres, often influenced by many of the same people, and yet each can be so transformational to who I am and how I see the world. Letʼs backtrack.

First Year Fall – was a time of adjustment. There were a lot of exciting experiences that tended to be scary, mostly because they were new. First year fall I learned a lot about the people I would be interacting with for the next few years.

First Year Winter – was cold and dark. Over break Iʼd rejuvenated and gotten closer with my first college friends. I started to explore the city of Kalamazoo and began to think of K as home.

First-Year Spring – was bright and warm. I continued exploring my surroundings, coming into my own with several of my classes. I expanded my horizons by taking day trips to South Haven and even a weekend trip to Chicago. It was so easy to hop on Amtrak and spend the weekend in the city. I started to feel more independent than ever; I was growing up.

Summer Interlude: continued my summer job from high school, but felt as though Iʼd outgrown it already.

Sophomore Fall – I was a peer leader, tour guide, and member of student government. I was beginning to feel like I knew what was up. I also lived in a living learning house, where I learned a lot about compromise and living with 7+ others.

Sophomore Winter – began a difficult transition. Winter quarter, again, can be pretty long and cold. I didn’t enjoy my classes, I was in crisis about my major, and I was terrified of all of my constants changing when we went on study abroad.

Sophomore Spring – continued my rough year. At the end I left for the summer and study abroad, but not on the best note with many of my first college friends.

Summer Interlude: spent working, cooped up inside looking forward to the evenings and whatever lay ahead of me in China.

Junior Fall and Winter – were spent in Beijing, learning and exploring, meeting new people – those I still call my best friends. This was the most transformative experience yet. Very few of even the K kids on our program knew who I was on our campus, which was a great opportunity to step outside my former self and face my fears (crowds, public transportation, speaking Chinese, and dancing, to name a few).

Junior Spring – I realized that the social groups had changed during study abroad. I had new friends and other groups had blended. I lived off campus for the first time and went on some great culinary explorations in the kitchen. I joined Frelon, and danced for an audience for the first time in my life. I took my first 300-level classes, which complemented each other and lended themselves to my best academic quarter yet.

Senior Fall – I moved into a house with five other K students; some were the first people Iʼd ever lived with at K, and some my best friends from study abroad, who Iʼd never imagined being close to. I ran for Student Commission again, and this time was appointed a yearlong position. In addition to peer leading, tour guiding, and interning in the Office of Admission, I had come into my own.

Senior Winter – wasnʼt as dark or cold as any of my other winter quarters. I was busy as heck, but I enjoyed my classes and wasnʼt even bored of them by the end of the 10-week term. I already look back fondly on evenings goofing off in our house, cooking together, and inviting new friends over to feed them our foodie concoctions (think slow-cooked pulled pork with homemade bbq sauce and caramelized onions).

Now itʼs my final academic spring break and Iʼm enjoying the California sun for the first time, looking forward to seeing what transforms me and how I grow during spring quarter and before I step into the real world and the rest of my life.

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About Samantha Wolfeʼ13

Sam is a senior interdisciplinary Environmental Studies major with a minor in Chinese. She has taken Chinese since high school and always had an interest in going abroad to China, which she did while a junior at K. Her summer research in China was the basis for her Senior Individualized Project. Sam is also a tour guide, a second-time Peer Leader this year and new Parliamentarian for the Student Commission, and has also taken the role as the Social Media intern for the Office of Admission.