Study Abroad Trip to France Was Years in the Making

three students on study abroad
Jessie Gougeon ’21, Maddie Jump ’21 and Avani Ashtekar ’21 spent a day working at a vineyard in Menetrol, Auvergne, France.

I had dreamed of coming to Clermont-Ferrand, France, since I was a sophomore in high school. My sister was a junior at Kalamazoo College, studying abroad in this small French city tucked away in France’s volcanic chain.

Most people in France have not even heard of this town, and there I was in Sterling Heights, Michigan,—exactly 4,051 miles away—dreaming of the day I would call it home. I applied to colleges my junior year of high school, keeping my hopes set on K; the day I was accepted I knew I was one step closer to reaching this dream.

Fast forward to 2019: When I arrived in France this September, the first thing that came to my mind was, “I hope I remember how to speak French!” I had six years of French classes, a French department award, and two years of college under my belt, yet looking back, nothing could have prepared me for all the incredible life experiences I was about to encounter abroad.

Cathedral in Clermont-Ferrand
Jessie Gougeon ’21 can see this cathedral from her favorite cafe in Clermont-Ferrand.
City of Clermont-Ferrand, France from study abroad
Jessie Gougeon ’21 had dreamed of visiting the city of Clermont-Ferrand, France, since she was a sophomore in high school.

Being abroad has helped me to grow in so many ways that I never would have expected. I am learning to be more independent, having to figure out situations I have never been in before—from navigating the metros of Paris, to learning the proper French etiquette of dinner with my host family.

I am also having the rare opportunity of using my French language skills all day, every day. This can be challenging; for example, I never knew the word for “blister” in French, and it took about 20 minutes to try to explain to my host mom why I needed a bandage for my foot. Yet each time you are put in a situation where you learn new words and figure out what you need to say, you just feel more and more confident.

I also have had the opportunity to make lifelong friendships that would never have happened without study abroad. I get to live with a French family who truly feels like a second family, meet French students, go on dates with French boys, and even become closer to the students who came with me from Kalamazoo. Coming to another country where you know no one is a huge bonding experience, and now I have best friends from Kalamazoo who I never even knew before this year. We have traveled through Europe together, hiked the biggest volcano in France, the Puy-de-Dôme, and made Clermont-Ferrand into our new home together.

I am about half done with my study abroad program. As I sit here in my favorite café, I can see the infamous gothic cathedral made from volcanic stone and its black hues are still just as shockingly beautiful to me as the first time I saw them. In the distance I can see that the Puy-de-Dôme has snow on its peak, while the city has not yet reached winter. I am so happy I chose to come to Kalamazoo College and to study abroad in Clermont-Ferrand. I am so excited for what these final months in France have in store for me.

Jessie Gougeon ’21 is a Sterling Heights, Michigan, native currently studying abroad in Clermont-Ferrand.

Should I Apply Early Decision to K?

You’ve done your research, visited campuses and polished your high school resume. You’re ready for a college that offers rigorous academics, amazing study abroad opportunities and a wealth of experiential learning opportunities in addition to small class sizes and a beautiful campus! Your heart is set on K. If you know Kalamazoo College is your number one choice, why wait to apply? Early decision may be right for you.

Early Decision at Kalamazoo College
Prospective students attended an October open house at Kalamazoo College.

Why Early Decision?

  • It’s a stress reliever! With admission acceptance letters mailed in December, you can kick back and enjoy the rest of your senior year knowing that the college decision-making process is finished.
  • You can engage with K as a “Future Hornet.” Visit campus and meet with students and faculty knowing that the people you meet will be part of your community for the next four years. If you’re looking for a spot on one of K’s athletic teams, get a head start by communicating with coaching staff as an admitted student and show them your commitment to K.

The Early Decision option is open to all incoming first-year students, including international students. Early Decision is a binding program—if you’re admitted, you are committing to attend Kalamazoo College.

The first Early Decision deadline is right around the corner. Visit our website to learn more about how to apply through the Common App by Nov. 1. If you want more time to include mid-year grades, you can apply as an Early Decision II candidate by Feb. 1.

How I Found the Right Advisor

Leah Tood Advisor Blog Post
Leah Todd ’20 credits her advisor, Physics Professor Tom Askew, for helping her find her way to the 3/2 engineering program and a study-abroad opportunity in Costa Rica.

Before college, I heard that I needed to find a good advisor. Someone who could guide me through my classes and prepare me for life afterward. Kalamazoo College assigns every first-year student an advisor when you come into school, in conjunction with your First-Year Seminar. First-Year Seminars are for incoming students to develop their critical thinking, writing and discussion skills. My First-Year Seminar was We Too Are Americans, about minorities in America. The Seminar was taught by Dr. Kathy Smith, who became my advisor; this was convenient for me, because I was able to connect with my advisor in every class period. In advisor meetings, we are supposed to discuss classes we want to take in the next term, goals for our college careers, and what we are doing in preparation for our futures. Although my advisor was supportive and inviting, she was not in the physics department, so she could not guide me through my intended major.

Leah Tood Advisor Blog Post 1
Leah Todd credits Physics Professor Tom Askew with helping her find her way to the 3/2 engineering program at K.

Fast forward to sophomore year. I realized I would benefit from having an advisor in my department. Near the end of fall term, I heard that Dr. Smith would be retiring at the end of the school year. This made it clear that a new advisor was necessary. Over winter break, I decided to go to the physics department to talk about my future at K with a professor that I had connected with, who had reached out to me when it became clear that I was off track for my major. Unfortunately, he was not there that day, but Dr. Tom Askew, the head of the 3/2 engineering program was present. Although I intended to talk about physics, he convinced me to think about the 3/2 engineering program. Ideally, I would take physics, math, computer science and chemistry courses at Kalamazoo College and then transfer to an accredited engineering school and receive a Bachelor of Science in an ABET-accredited engineering program and a bachelor’s degree in physics at Kalamazoo College. He and I spoke for over an hour about future courses and more involvement on campus. The appointment ended with him offering to be my advisor.

Leah Tood Advisor Blog Post 2
Leah Todd credits Physics Professor Tom Askew with helping her find her way to the 3/2 engineering program at K.

Over the rest of the school year, I regularly met with him. Unlike my other advisor and mentors, he did not sugar coat his messages. He was honest about my strengths and weaknesses in academics and where he saw my future. At times I would take offense, because I had not had anyone be so honest with me. His transparency helped me to be realistic. He was also the first to congratulate me when I had a stellar term.

I also credit my advisor for encouraging me to study abroad. I did not think I would be able to go because I did not take all the classes for my major in the intended order. He pushed me to talk to counselors at the Center for International Programs about my options and how I could work it into the curriculum. I applied and was accepted into the Costa Rica program for the fall term. While there, he kept in contact with me and helped schedule me for classes since I did not always have an internet connection while traveling. His persistence made me grateful for the professors I would be returning to when I came back to campus.

When I returned, he and I spoke about my future and transferring to Western Michigan University to finish off the major. Like many other times when I stopped in his office, he and I talked about the future of infrastructure in the United States, sustainability efforts on our campus and my plans for the summer. From that conversation, he thought the David Hawkins ’62 Student Research Fellowship for the Study of Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy or Environmental Sustainability would be an appropriate research opportunity for me. While my path at Kalamazoo College has not been linear, I have always been able to find support that has helped shape my path and open doors to new opportunities. I will forever be grateful for the number of times my advisor, Dr. Askew, has gambled on me.

Leah Tood is a 3/2 engineering major at Kalamazoo College.

Lights! Camera! Filmmaking at K

Ximena Davis promotes the Filmmaking Club at K-Fest
Ximena Davis promotes the filmmaking club, the Kalamazoo College Filmmakers’ Society, at K-Fest.

One of the most exciting events as a first-year at Kalamazoo College is the K-Fest fair that happens during the second week of classes fall term. K-Fest is a student organization fair where all of the student organizations set up tables and advertise their clubs. First-years and upperclassmen alike migrate toward the lower quad to sign up for any club that interests them. I remember roaming around the tables and finding multiple clubs that attracted me such as the Kalamazoo College Democrats, the Zoology Club, and Cirque du K, the circus troupe. However, there was one particular hobby that was a true passion of mine: filmmaking. Kalamazoo College has more than 70 student organizations and I signed up for so many; however, I couldn’t find one for filmmaking. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop my curiosity, and I decided to start my own club with another passionate and interested friend of mine.

K made that process very easy and once I spoke with the Office of Student Involvement, I soon found myself the co-founder and president of the Kalamazoo College Filmmakers’ Society my junior year. Helping to run the club had many components, and the first order of business was to generate interest and gain new members. My senior year was our first chance to advertise at K-Fest and I remember excitedly making our cardboard cutout for our table to entice future members. We had more than 50 people sign up for the club and it was so invigorating and validating to find other people who were just as interested in filmmaking as I was.

Throughout the fall term, we developed a very close group of dedicated members, and as an early club, we all bounced ideas off of each other as to what we wanted the club to focus on. We decided that creating our own films was the thing that interested all of us the most, so the other experienced leaders and I taught our new members some of the basics of filmmaking. During our winter term, we collaborated with Balderdash, the creative writing club, on a script and ended up shooting and editing our first film! The script was finished in the first week, the actors had a week to memorize, and we shot everything on one Saturday! It was such an exciting experience and it was fun being in charge and making sure every shot got done. We woke up before 8a.m. and began shooting in the dorm lounge at 9 a.m.. Even though we kept having to apologize to residents for the noise, everyone in the building was supportive and intrigued by our project.

As we switched shots, we also switched roles, giving each member the opportunity to learn different jobs on set. We scrambled at the end to finish, the light beginning to change around 4 p.m., and yet watching everyone come together as actors, camera people, and sound was such a rewarding moment. Calling out that last cut just in time—it was so gratifying to see how focused and unified everyone was. Editing was completed within the next couple of weeks and before the term was over, we had a finished film! Inevitably, however, it was time to graduate, and passing the torch at the end of the year to our new first-year members was a bittersweet moment. While it was hard to say goodbye to something I’d created and grown along with, it was ultimately rewarding to see it continue on with such wonderful and passionate people.

Being a student at Kalamazoo College means being a part of an active and interconnected student body. I found many welcoming spaces and one of them was my own Hollywood oasis. Learning and finding other people with my same interests led to so many great moments, and I found that there is always the opportunity at K to create your own spaces and communities.

Ximena Davis graduated from Kalamazoo College in June after majoring in English and minoring in anthropology and sociology. She also had concentrations in media studies and American studies.

Senior Project Focuses on Passion for Film

Ximena Davis holds senior project titled "Culture You Can Eat"
Ximena Davis presenting her senior project before she turns it in.

As a current senior, I am completing my Senior Individualized Project, or SIP, in the English department this year and often look back to when I first learned about what the SIP was. I first heard about this requirement while touring Kalamazoo College four years ago, and I imagined the hours spent writing a fifty-page research paper. However, I soon learned that at Kalamazoo College, this senior project can be creative, as well as research-based, depending on what interests you. Once I heard about the creativity I could have with my SIP, I immediately scheduled a meeting with the head of the department fall term of my first year here. While I was told I was way ahead of the game, I was still excited about the possibility of doing a film, something I have been very interested in for a long time.

As I came to the end of my junior year, I was planning on doing a documentary, and I was having trouble coming up with the topic. Knowing that this project was supposed to be a culmination of what I have learned at K, I thought back to all of the opportunities the college has given me. I recalled the externship I was able to do after my first year of college in New Orleans. An externship is a competitive opportunity where alumni of the school offer to let one or two students shadow them at their jobs and see what it is like to live a few weeks in their shoes. My placement happened to be with a college professor and filmmaker in New Orleans. He was shooting a full-length, independent feature film and on that set, I was given the hands-on knowledge of what it is like working on a film. I had the opportunity to perform many jobs on-set, which helped cement my love of film and commitment to a career in the industry. I was able to be behind the camera and create shots, download and back up footage, clap the slate in front of the camera and call shots, and even had a small cameo in the film itself!

Sandwich with french fries for senior project
While filming her senior project, Ximena Davis enjoyed trying the different food found in New Orleans.

My senior project therefore, led me back to New Orleans where I shot a documentary on the unique food culture of the city. I spent two weeks down south over the summer developing my story, choosing restaurants, shooting footage, and gathering interviews. I met so many interesting people and ate more beignets, muffalettas, po’boys, and sno-balls than I could count! I was able to enjoy the Southern Decadence festival in the French Quarter, see baby alligators in the wild, and visit the friends I made while down there for the first time. I was able to explore the intricacies of the city in a way I had been unfamiliar with before because of the independence I had when filming my SIP. Learning about the importance of the city and the people through its food helped me gain a deeper understanding of how culturally unique it is. Now that I am back at K, I have been editing my film under the guidance of my SIP advisors. I couldn’t be more excited to premiere my film for the college community and take another step toward my chosen career. Now, to book a room for the screening…!

Ximena Davis is a senior majoring in English and minoring in Anthropology and Sociology. She has a concentration in media studies and American studies.

Tower Bells Declare Day of Gracious Living

Today is what we call the Day of Gracious Living—DOGL for short. It is one of K’s most cherished traditions: a surprise, chosen day off in late spring when classes are canceled and students can take buses to Lake Michigan for a day at the beach. There are a lot of remarkable things about the day, and one of the most remarkable is the way it’s announced to the campus: with a set of very special tower bells.

Students ringing the tower bells to announce the Day of Gracious Living
Ian McKnight practices ringing the tower bells for the Day of Gracious Living.

When I decided to come to K, I never imagined that I would become a bell ringer. I stumbled upon the hobby almost by accident—walking past Stetson Chapel on a Monday evening during my first week on campus and poking my head in to investigate the strange ringing from the tower. Expecting to find a machine, I was surprised to discover a group of eight people standing in a circle and pulling on ropes to ring tower bells that were far above them. This was my first introduction to the world of change ringing, and I kept coming back.

Change ringing is a very old, very British way of ringing bells. The chapel bells are heavy (our largest is just a hair over a thousand pounds), yet they are hung in a way that makes them easy to ring without any electronics (and, disappointingly, involves much more time with both feet on the floor than most people imagine). Rather than songs, the bells ring in preset mathematical patterns, which was the whole reason that T. Jefferson Smith, a math professor, worked to bring them to Stetson Chapel in the 1980s.

Our bells were cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, which cast, among others, the Liberty Bell, Big Ben, and the bells at the National Cathedral in Washington. Though they are common in Britain, there are only about 50 other sets of bells for change ringing in all of North America, which means that K is, oddly enough, known as a sort of powerhouse in the world of American change ringing.

Outside the Church Bell Foundry, which constructed K's tower bells
Ian McKnight visited the original manufacturer of the Liberty Bell, which also constructed K’s tower bells.

My ringing journey started on the Quad on an otherwise ordinary Monday evening, and it did not stop there. In fact, it has stuck with me through my whole K experience. A Capitol Hill internship in Washington meant ringing every week in a tower above Pennsylvania Avenue. Ringing was part of what led me to study abroad in Aberdeen, Scotland, which is home to another tower and a band of ringers that welcomes K students with open arms. Ringing has taken me from a tower high above Wall Street in Manhattan to tiny British villages and from the shadow of Edinburgh Castle on Christmas Eve to the streets of Chicago in the spring. I never saw it coming, but ringing has been one of the highlights of my K experience, and it is a perfect example of the way that the K-Plan lets you find your niche—even if it is a bit esoteric.

The highlight of the year for K’s student ringers, however, is the Day of Gracious Living. The exact day is always a surprise, yet everybody knows that it must, at some point, come. This can lead to disappointment if a promising weather forecast raises hopes. Occasionally, people will gather on the Quad in anticipation, and, after the bells sit silent for the evening, sulk back to the library to finish their homework. If it happens later than expected, the tension on campus is palpable.

Finally though, on some glad afternoon, at a set time known only by a select few people, one of the ringers gives the traditional order to the others in the tower: “Look to! Treble’s going! She’s gone!” and sets the whole spectacle in motion.

Outside, people cheer. For those out of earshot, word spreads fast. Minutes later, bells still ringing, the email arrives, full of information on the coming picnic on the quad and bus trips to the beach. The first line, though, is the one that really matters:

“The bells are ringing! The wait is over! The Chosen Day has come at last!”

Ian McKnight is a senior student representative at Kalamazoo College.

Carve Your Own Path at K

Ynika Yuag Talks About Carving Her Own Path at K
Sophomore Ynika Yuag acts as John in Fun Home. The theatre department is where Ynika learned to carve her own path at K. Photo by: Katherine Nofs.

As a tour guide at K, I tell all my tours that my favorite students to interact with are the ones who have no idea what they want to do once they get to college. For someone who has always considered herself a forward-thinking and detailed-oriented planner, it may prove surprising to find out that when I was a high school senior, I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to study in college, either. In the middle of my senior year of high school, I was newly admitted into K and felt ecstatic about the prospect of starting a new chapter of my life, despite not knowing what I would do once I got there. Luckily, K is the perfect place to carve your own path.

Of course, as a high school senior I knew what subjects I was interested in. I loved writing, acting, and trying to understand human beings and their relationships with each other. I can probably guess what you’re thinking, because it’s also what I initially thought: those interests sound kind of random and unrelated. When I got to K, I soon found out that those interests were more connected that I ever thought, and they were appreciated and welcomed by our theatre department. My first year, I auditioned for the fall main stage musical Fun Home and had an incredible experience playing John Bechdel. K’s theatre department strikes a wonderful balance of welcoming students of all experience levels and teaching them that theatre is not just flashy costumes and sustained belting into eternity. The faculty and staff of the department are committed to helping students explore aspects of the craft outside of their comfort zones, as well as helping students excel in whatever field of theatre they may eventually focus on. While I entered our theatre department with a comfort zone of only acting experience, performing in my first show has propelled me into a career of other theatre roles that have never felt slow or dull.

Carve Your Own Path at K
Ynika Yuag shows what it means to carve your own path at K. She performed as Natalie in the Festival Playhouse production of Student Body. Photo by: Katherine Nofs.

Since my first-year fall show, I have participated in several roles that have pushed me beyond my interest in performance; besides an actor, I have been an assistant stage manager, usher, wardrobe crew hand, scenic shop helper, playwright, dramaturg, teaching assistant, and properties master. I quickly learned that K’s theatre department valued my interest in acting and performance, as well as my interests in writing and trying to understand the human condition—I was curious about how peoples’ personalities develop, as well as the motivations behind their interactions with others. I eventually incorporated these interests into dramaturgical work for Student Body, a show about sexual violence on a college campus for which I was both an actor and the dramaturg. As a dramaturg for this production, I was tasked with conducting background research for the play and discussing with the cast and other crew members how this research may inform the production. For our production of Student Body, I conducted research about sexual violence, focusing on college/university campuses. As a high school senior, I had no idea what a dramaturg was. This year, as a sophomore, I was awarded a Certificate of Merit for Dramaturgy from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Two years ago, I didn’t see myself pursuing a degree in theatre arts. Now, I see myself pursuing a career in it. Thanks to the guidance of the faculty and staff within the theatre department, I discovered that my interests are not only valuable, they are inherently interconnected in ways that prove beneficial to my current work in theatre. As a student who previously had no idea what I wanted to study, I remain incredibly grateful to the opportunities provided to me from the faculty as they guided me and encouraged me to try various disciplines and carve out my own path.

Ynika Yuag, a sophomore, enjoys performing in Festival Playhouse productions at Kalamazoo College. 

Living Learning Houses: A Home Away from Home

For students who want to live on campus and are seeking an alternative to a residence hall, K has options. Living Learning Houses allow you to live in one of eight homes on campus with a handful of friends or people who share a common interest.

Two students in a bedroom of the Living Learning HousesThree students in a Living Learning Houses KitchenSpeaking of kitchens, Living Learning Houses are also great for people who enjoy cooking their own meals. Dining Services offers a variety of meal plans that can accommodate students who live in Living Learning Houses. This means you are still able to visit the dining hall while also having the opportunity to make your own culinary creations.

Six Students and a Giant Inflatable Unicorn in a Living Learning Houses Living RoomSix students outside at the Living Learning HousesBack when I was a young sophomore, I lived in a Living Learning House themed “Film House”. We all had an interest in movies and wanted to be able to host events that would allow us to explore this interest. During the first quarter I was elected house liaison, which meant I attended weekly meetings with the Living Learning House residential advisor and the other liaisons from the other Living Learning Houses. This was a great opportunity to gain leadership skills early on in college.

This year, there is a whole new crop of Living Learning Houses, one of them themed “Intercultural Unity House”, the members of which include international students and domestic students with heritage from around the world. One of the residents, Mansi Dahal ’20, reflects on what her experience has been. “Living Learning Houses are not just about learning about each other’s lives but living them together. I love how I have grown together with my housemates and seen different perspectives to tackle the same problem.”

Mansi brings up a great point about how living together with six to eight other people can really be a great learning experience in terms of understanding what you need from a living space and how you interact and solve housing conflicts with other people. “Celebrating each other’s cultures in this new place makes me feel like I have formed a new family here,” Mansi explains. “I feel like this has become my home away from home.”

Here at K we are proud to offer housing options. Living Learning Houses really are a wonderful option for students who are looking to build a small, close-knit community. Who knows, you might just find your home away from home.

Savannah Kinchen ‘18

Nine Reasons Why Spring Quarter is the Best Quarter

Springtime means the academic year is almost over. The weather is warmer, flowers are blooming and at Kalamazoo College spring events are popping up all over campus. In the fall, all the student organizations are acquiring new members and making plans for the rest of the year. Then winter term hits and everyone retreats indoors to the comfort of a fireplace. But then, the frost melts, the sunshine peaks down, and students flood the quad for some much needed fresh air. Spring is an explosion of events, both on K’s campus and in the broader Kalamazoo Community. Check out some of the highlights!

  1. World Night

One of the annual spring events is hosted by the International Student Organization (ISO). World Night is an avenue for students to express their culture for the K community to celebrate. A mixture of song, dance, poetry, food, games, and much more, World Night is always a big event on campus and one that everyone looks forward to in the spring.

  1. Frelon

Frelon is a student-run dance company that is one of the largest and most popular spring events on K’s campus, and their annual show is in, you guessed it, spring quarter! Student choreographers and their selected dancers prepare for weeks during winter quarter to be able to perform for the campus community during spring quarter. There is a mixture of experience levels and anyone who wants to can be a part of a dance. Frelon is such a fun way to get involved with a student organization and try out dance in a supportive environment. As a veteran Frelon attendee, I can vouch that it is a terrific show every time!

  1. Monkapult

During winter quarter getting out of your pajamas and trudging through the cold to go to a campus event can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task (especially when the sun sets at five o’clock sharp). But in the springtime, going to late night campus events feels like a fun way to burn off some spring fever. And there’s nothing that burns spring fever (or calories) like going to Monkapult – the campus improv group. It’s always fun to see your friends (or strangers, for that matter) make fools of themselves for comedic purposes, and Monkapult always delivers on that front!

Fun fact: Steven Yeun K’05 (Actor on AMC’s horror drama television series The Walking Dead) and Jordan Klepper K’01 (correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) both got their acting start at K through Monkapult!

  1. SIP Symposiums

On a slightly more academic (but still fun!) note, the springtime means something a little different for seniors – it’s SIP Season, baby. The Senior Individualized Project (or SIP, as the kids call it) is a graduation requirement for every K student that can range from writing an original play or conducting your own lab experiment. Then, throughout spring quarter seniors present their final products at various departmental SIP Symposiums. This is an awesome way to see what kind of work your fellow students are doing and if you’re an underclassman, it’s a great way to get some inspiration for your own SIP. Plus, there are usually always snacks and who doesn’t love free food?!

  1. Burgers and Blues

Nothing says springtime like barbecued food, music, and sunshine. Every tenth week of spring quarter the Kalamazoo College Jazz Band plays some tunes out on the quad while students, faculty, and staff grab food off the grill. This event is a great place for everyone to enjoy the outdoors, some music, classic barbecue food, and of course, the quarter almost being over!

  1. Farmers Market

The Kalamazoo Farmers Market hosts dozens of farmers and local vendors at a weekly market starting in May and going through October. The market is a twenty-minute walk from campus, or a ten-minute bike ride, and boasts a lively scene with food trucks, live music, picnic tables, and of course, beautiful locally grown produce!

  1. Pride Ball

Every spring the Kaleidoscope student organization hosts Pride Ball, an event designed for attendees to dress and express themselves however they please! Kaleidoscope is one of the LGBTQIA+ groups on campus, and Pride Ball is their largest annual event. Complete with food, dancing, photo booths, contests, and performances, Pride Ball is always a fun time for all.

  1. DOGL

Every school has its traditions. Day of Gracious Living, or DOGL, is one of K’s oldest and most cherished. The night before DOGL an email is sent out by the president of the college announcing that classes will be canceled for the following day. What ensues is NOGL (Night of Gracious Living), a night of food and fun on the quad to kick off the festivities. The following day the school sends shuttles out to South Haven for K students to enjoy a day at the beach! The speculation leading up to DOGL about which day it will be is surely a pain in all professors’ necks but for students is practically half the fun.

  1. Cultural Awareness Troupe

The Black Student Organization (BSO) puts on one of its largest annual spring events, Cultural Awareness Troupe or CAT. This event gives students of color a stage (literally) to express themselves through poetry, song, dance, and even film. There’s also a dance competition and local food vendors during intermission! Some of the most stunning and powerful performances that I’ve witnessed during my time at K were during CAT performances – this is definitely a springtime favorite!

If this hasn’t convinced you that springtime at K is loaded with fun events, I don’t know what will! You can rest assured that every weekend will have at least one entertaining ongoing for you to attend. And with a few weeks left of the quarter, I’ll be sure to take advantage of all the fun!

Savannah Kinchen ‘18

More (Friends) in Four. More (Friends) in a Lifetime.

Here I am at the end of my sophomore year feeling sentimental because three of my closest friends here on campus are graduating soon. This may seem like something that is completely irrelevant to some but I think that this particular situation speaks to how the dynamics at Kalamazoo College work in terms of creating friendships and relationships, and maintaining those connections. During my first year here at K, my friend group primarily consisted of other first year students due to participating in LandSea, orientation week, First Year Seminars, and living in one of the all-First-Year dorms. This wasn’t a bad thing by any means. I was very comfortable within my group of friends and was glad I had a stable and strong group of individuals that made my transition from high school to college seem so smooth and comfortable. However, I’ve been able to connect with more people this year for various reasons.

Being a sophomore is very different from being a first year student, and I’m sure that is not a surprise to anyone reading this. When you’re a sophomore you have a year of college experience and have become familiar and more comfortable with the college environment. Yet here at K, the sophomore experience is a little different since you and the seniors essentially run the school. Due to a new wave of first year students and practically all the juniors being on study abroad, student organizations and events typically come down to the responsibility of the sophomores and seniors. This dynamic serves as a catalyst for communication and connection between the two different classes. I have been lucky enough to really get to know seniors in the student organizations and classes I am in because of this dynamic.

Specifically, I have gained three senior friends that I am so grateful to have gotten to know. The three of them have helped guide me through sophomore year (which can be overwhelming because of the responsibility you now have). Through them, I have gained more confidence in certain areas of my life (such as writing and leading) and have been reassured that I don’t have to have everything figured out. One is a Psychology major that will go to medical school, one is an English major who has actually graduated early and will pursue her MFA at a graduate school in northern Michigan in the fall, and the other is an English major who will attend a publishing program at the University of Oxford in England from September to December. The three of them through their own experiences, challenges, and triumphs have taught me that even though their post-grad plans sound so sure and concrete, it took time and effort for them to fall into place. I am beyond thankful that I have had the three of them to serve as friends, mentors, and supporters. That’s the thing about this weird dynamic here at K, it can expose you to some of the most influential people, and I hope one day I will pass on all that they have given to me.

Karina Pantoja ‘20