A lump formed in my throat the morning I had to wave goodbye to my mom from the red bricks of Academy Street. She pulled away in her rental car, waving in the rear view mirror, and I turned around and joined my other Landsea participants and soon-to-be classmates in Hicks. I remember feeling all at once wide open and tightly closed.

When I arrived at K, I thought that by now I should know what I wanted to study but in reality I was just as confused as ever. When people asked, “what do you want to study?” I outwardly responded with a smile, thoughtful nods, and “probably psychology” while my insides swelled with panic and guilt.

I was grateful for K’s open curriculum, which allowed me to spend my first year shopping around in different departments to see which one might be a good fit for me. I eventually landed on Anthropology and Sociology because the classes interested me the most and the major requirements were flexible. After years of being forced to take certain classes even if I had no interest in them, I felt empowered by the ability to choose exactly what I wanted to take.

The Anthropology and Sociology classes I took as well as my introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality class challenged me to unpack my ideas of social justice. These classes completely transformed my worldview. It was like I had been walking around with foggy glasses for my whole life – sort of being able to see the picture in front of me but only seeing clearly once they had been wiped clean.

Some of my most cherished memories that K provided me include anything that revolved around experiential learning. From my externship to the many service-learning classes I took to my study away program in Chicago to the CBI summer internship I had, I was allowed to learn through community engagement, which I have found is the most impactful for me.

As I neared the end of my sophomore year, I was grateful that K offered domestic study away opportunities in addition to study abroad. I was more interested in getting experience in the work force and figuring out what sort of professional work environment worked for me than doing a study abroad program, so the Chicago Program really appealed to me. I truly believe that the internship experience that I had in Chicago prepared me to be highly qualified for the internship with the YWCA I completed last summer that I ended up basing my SIP off of.

My SIP wasn’t the first time that I had conducted an independent study project at K. During the winter of my junior year I designed and completed an independent study in the psychology department centered on self-compassion, vulnerability, and shame. I first heard of the concept of self-compassion from one of the therapists at the counseling center; I can quite safely say that because of this resource offered by K, my life changed completely.

I’ve continued my practice of self-compassion and now that I am a co-facilitator of a new student organization on campus called K Team that focuses on mind-body wellness and empowerment; I am so excited to grow a community of self-care here at K.

As I think back to that farewell moment right before Landsea, I remember feeling so uncertain and afraid. If only I had known what incredible experiences were waiting for me. In a lot of ways I feel like K has given me all that I need, and now I am in a place where I want to give back.

From one nostalgic K College senior to you, reader: I hope my experience has offered you some clarity or comfort.

-Savannah Kinchen ’18

Landing at K with a Sea of Relief

In today’s society when you think of camping, you usually think of luxurious RVs or spacious tents, barbequing your dinner on a grill while the kids swim in a pond nearby, lawn chairs around a bonfire, and licking s’more residue off your fingertips as the moon ascends in the sky. We don’t tend to think about the kind of camping that involves sleeping under tarps, drinking water from a nearby stream that’s been filtered clean, swimming and bathing in lakes, waking up at 4 in the morning to climb the sixth tallest mountain of the Adirondacks, and stumbling up a hill in the dark with the assistance of your headlamp in order to find the perfect area of soft ground to dig a hole and relieve your bladder. Even though the latter idea seems incredibly strenuous, and slightly insane, I can personally say that it is one of the most rewarding and refreshing experiences one can partake in.

Landing at K with a Sea of Relief
One last beautiful day at Lake Massawippi before heading home

When committing to K and signing up for the LandSea program— an 18-day outdoor pre-orientation program in upstate New York— I convinced myself that it would simply be a way to pass the time as I anxiously awaited the first day of school. Little did I know that it would actually be one of the most meaningful moments of my time thus far at K. Spending 18 days in the wilderness, especially with no prior camping experience, is definitely intimidating, but personally, I enjoyed the challenge it posed. Though I knew nothing about how to pack a hiking bag, how to set up a tarp, or what a bear canister was, I soon learned all the ins and outs of the “backcountry.”

After a 14-hour bus trip, I arrived at the Lake Massawippi Boy Scout camp with about 50 other incoming First-Years. Exiting the bus, we were quickly surrounded by 20 leaders, chanting and dancing, welcoming us to the start of an entirely new adventure. We were split up into eight different groups, about five to six participants in each with two leaders, and were taken to our own specific base camp location to start our journeys. I will admit I was nervous and very hesitant the first day of the trip. I was worried I would be terrible at camping, that I wouldn’t get along with the members of my group, and that the entire trip would be something I would regret. Good thing I was wrong.

Landing at K with a Sea of Relief
The best deep dish pizza comes from the backcountry

The days seemed to turn into seconds after the first day passed and the entity of our group transformed from strangers into a family. Days spent hiking up mountains, canoeing across lakes and ponds, cooking various meals in a Dutch oven (including the best deep dish pizza I have ever consumed), and spending nights reflecting around a bonfire ended up giving me new friendships, skills, and a new confidence and sense of relief going into the school year at K. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity that K provided me with that allowed me to grow not only on an individual level, but within a group setting as well. Take it from me, check out the LandSea program here at K. Don’t let price or lack of experience discourage you. I guarantee you it will be the first step of obtaining more in your four years here and more in your lifetime.

– Karina Pantoja ’20