Kenyon's Foreign LegionGAMBIER, Ohio (August 1, 2007) At any given point during the academic year, and often during the summer, you can find a Kenyon student on at least six continents (sorry, Antarctica). About half of the junior class studies abroad, scattering from Paris to Oman to Santiago to Beijing to, yes, Exeter. Statistically speaking, it's unlikely that these two-hundred-odd students would run into each other at airports; but this is Kenyon, and we're more interested in stories than statistics.
Rising senior Nate Grover, for example, spent the spring semester in Cape Town, South Africa. He roomed with a stranger, a "Tim Callahan," who, Grover soon discovered, is also a rising senior and English major at Kenyon. The two spent some time together--most notably as two of about 40,000 cyclists competing in the 109-km Cape Argus Cycle tour, the world's largest individually timed race.
When he wasn't training by riding his bike straight up Devil's Peak mountain, teaching a weekly, after-school environmental science course, fending off baboons, or, well, studying, Grover was traveling, often by himself. He headed to Gaborone, the capital of the Republic of Botswana, and Durbin, a village on South Africa's east coast. When he talks about his time abroad, he likes to mention that he lived under Devil's Peak. Impressed for the first few weeks, he gradually stopped noticing it. "Now it's the thing I just kind of tell people, 'It was wonderful, I lived under a mountain, I'd see it every day!' But I'd see it every day, so I didn't care at the time," he said.
The anecdotes and tall tales of returning students heighten anticipation of underclassmen, like Lucia Pizzo '09. She was initially skeptical of the apparently obvious nature of the Kenyon-Exeter program: "I mean, really, an English major going to England? Yeesh." But after talking to several Kenyon-Exeter alumni, including Sarah Heidt, assistant professor of English, Pizzo found the enthusiasm infectious.
Many of Pizzo's fellow Kenyon Review interns spent their junior year at Exeter. "They always wanted to whip out Exeter scrapbooks," she said. "After they'd answered my questions, one of them would usually say, 'Seriously, thanks for letting me talk about it.'"
For now, Pizzo is working in a bakery just around the corner from her home in Lakewood, Ohio, and saving money for her five-week spring break. There, in the Bavarian Pastry Shop, Pizzo ran into her first Exeter story. During her job interview, the owner mentioned that his son also attended Kenyon. She discovered that the baker's son was Clay von Carlowitz, another Kenyon English major. "I'm going to Exeter with him," she told his father. The job was hers.
To the insistently independent: Never fear. There are enough programs and square kilometers in the Kenyon-abroad-world that you can go an entire year without seeing another Gambier denizen, as rising senior Katelyn Johnson did. She literally took the plunge into her abroad experience in the Dominican Republic and Bolivia, jumping into Lake Titicaca hand-in-hand with newfound friends.
Some suggest that it's best to head into an abroad experience with no specific expectations, but it's safe to expect this: At the beginning of the fall semester, while rising seniors make slideshows and try to reconnect with the friends they left in Gambier, another crop of Kenyon juniors will head out into the wide world. Expect them to come home with stories. - Lauren C. Ostberg '07