Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Why I Went Abroad (and Why You Should Too)

Phillip Gray Clark
December 20, 2015

Around half of Kenyon students will study off campus at some point, and with just a few days left in Russia, I think now is a great time to talk about why I went abroad. Kenyon is a magnificent place. I call it my home and I feel like myself there, but that being said, Gambier, Ohio, isn’t the center of the world. I wish it was, and I think everyone on the Hill wishes it was, but simply put, in some ways Gambier isn’t the real world. You can’t leave your backpack lying around in the real world and expect it to be there when you return from getting a coffee. You can’t sleep with your door open in the real world and expect for there not to be consequences. You won’t know everyone’s face in the real world.

After sophomore year I was somewhat tired of Kenyon, the same routine, the same places and the same things, and the stress that comes with studying at a prestigious liberal arts college was really weighing in. I wanted to get a different experience than what the cornfields of Kenyon could give me, just for a semester, and that is exactly what I got. These past four months have been incredible for me. Living in Russia with a host family has exponentially increased my Russian language skills. I have made friends with people from different universities, of different nationalities and with different stories than my friends at Kenyon. One of the most important things to me personally was the perspective that this time has given me. At Kenyon, at least for me, it was so easy to sit in Olin Library at 1:30 a.m. on a Monday thinking “woe is me” and worrying about things that I couldn’t control. Here, that is not the case. I no longer find myself stressing out about frivolous things, but now find myself worrying about important things for my day-to-day well-being. Studying abroad has really made me into more of an adult. I think the growth I have made while here could not have been achieved at Kenyon at this rate.

Now please don’t get me wrong and think that I am against Kenyon now. Being abroad also comes with its fair share of difficulties. It is a challenge every day while abroad not to miss the memories of home: great nights in the Bullseye with my brothers, having a delicious iced vanilla latte at Wiggin Street Coffee, stopping into a professor’s office just to catch up with them, Peircegiving, and just feeling that indescribable sense of place and belonging while walking down Middle Path. These are just a few of the hundreds of things I miss, but I know that soon I will be back to all of that.

To sum it up, these past four months abroad have been incredible for me. I have not only achieved great academic stride with my language, but so much personal stride too, and for sure could not have done it without the great adventure I have had. Soon enough, I’ll be back on the Hill, and I couldn’t be more excited to be reunited with my friends, my brothers and my professors, but I would not trade anything in the world for the experience I have had.