For the past fifteen or so years, whether suffering through a sick day at home, carefully crafting my summer reading list or craving a heart-melting romance, British films, period dramas or historical novels influenced nearly every aspect of my life. So when my study abroad process began, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d travel to somewhere in the UK.
Months passed and I was accepted into a program in Bath, England.
Weeks passed and I was giddy at the thought of applying for a visa.
But here at Kenyon, only states away from home, on the move-in day of my junior year, I’d never been more stressed. My mother asked again an hour later, “Are you sure you’re okay? You seem really tense.”
I’d been asking myself these same questions, confused at my own anxiety. But a small thought that had been bubbling at the back of my mind burst.
You’ll only move in one last time here.
This was something I didn’t fully conceptualize until weeks into the fall semester. At the time, it was enough for me to stop heaving boxes up a dim staircase, take a shuddering small breath and keep going.
I think it was my new location that brought on these feelings. The past two years I had been in the routine of descending upon campus from the north side near Lewis or Caples Hall. A year ago, I would have already been perspiring on Middle Path under the escaped rays of light peeking through the leaves. Caples felt comfortably familiar to my routine of freshman year– nothing major had changed.
Now, my morning walk looks very different. I immediately am faced with a concrete mountain of steps that hold me in momentary coolness rippling my skin before I’m thrust into the winding road of speeding cars coming around the bend. Hiking up one last staircase to Peirce, my heart heaves with exertion before I even reach my first class.
At first, I hated it. More than anything, it reminds me more and more of my temporary time at Kenyon– that this morning walk is less permanent, as I won’t be trekking it during the cold winter months. I never thought I’d admit to being wary of leaving Kenyon for study abroad, but this easy familiarity will be surely missed. Especially with Kenyon’s specific location and small campus, such a drastic change in location will bring a whole host of changes and challenges, hopefully for the better.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to appreciate the fleeting woodland sanctuary that I pass through on my daily walks. Especially at dawn or dusk, deer sometimes will waddle across our small hill of idyllic green, a near-perfect image through my tiny window. Mid-September warmth has waned and doesn’t pervade my room with humidity anymore.
The earlier fear that paralyzed me on move-in day has dissipated. The realization still strikes me in a sort of laughing disbelief, and fears of the impending logistical chaos in organizing and preparing for my time abroad lurk in my mind often. But in the refuge of my cozy apartment, I indulge in more time spent cooking or baking with friends, watching my favorite British rom com with my housemates at night, and allotting more time to reflect and write things like this as deer prance outside my window.
Things still feel weird as a junior on campus. There are even more unfamiliar faces around campus and normally that would scare me. Change can sometimes seem like an impossible thing on this campus that’s so tightly packed and interconnected. But as the air shifts to autumn, ushering in Kenyon’s peak season on campus, I am reminded to relish the small joys of my daily life here instead of worrying about when it will end.
So now I anticipate the small joy of walking out of my apartment into a chilly October morning and climbing my way up to main campus through brilliant leaves of red and gold. Even more so, I eagerly await the first morning when I’ll have an entirely new perspective in Bath, traversing different routes, finding new sanctuaries and joys in my daily life there.