After enjoying a month-long break during the holiday season, the Kenyon community has finally returned to the Hill. Many students have expressed gratitude for the four week respite from classes and are feeling refreshed ahead of the spring semester, and for the class of 2026, this break also marked the first extended vacation period in their academic careers. The time off allowed first-year students to engage in a variety of activities ranging from traveling to catching up with old friends. As a result, stories of adventure and intrigue are being shared all across the freshman quad.
Among the students who traveled abroad during the vacation was Tristan Lewis-Schurter ’26, who spent the break with his family in South Africa. “I stayed at [my family’s] home in the Limpopo Province, built a boat, went camping with horses and camped by the beach for a week,” he said. Lewis-Schurter also noted his surprise at the cultural differences between the United States and South Africa that he observed during his time there: “There are obvious political and ideological differences between our two countries, and in the three years since I last visited, those differences in beliefs on things like masculinity and education only got more severe.” Despite this, Lewis-Schurter enjoyed his holiday and had a “lovely time adventuring” with his family.
Others stayed close to home during winter break, including Hannah Ehrlich ’26, who returned to New York City for the holidays. “I saw some friends from high school and spent a lot of time with my family,” she said. “I stayed around where I live and visited my favorite parks and restaurants.” Ehrlich took advantage of the time off to process the first semester and recuperate from the stress of finals. “It was really nice to have some time to relax and reflect on what I did last semester. I was able to plan new ways to be more productive this semester. I think it was just the right amount of time to help me recover from last semester, enjoy being at home and get excited about [the] second semester.”
For some, the vacation from schoolwork meant an opportunity to pursue other types of work at home. Dalton Hastings ’26 returned to a restaurant job in his hometown of Wilmette, Ill., where he came upon a surprising new hobby. Having always heard co-workers complaining about the price of lettuce, Hastings began to consider growing his own. “I stumbled into something called hydroponic lettuce, which is where you grow lettuce in water,” he wrote in a message to the Collegian. “I went to my local hardware store and bought all the materials I needed to make this contraption, and after my first prototype, I kind of fell in love with the idea. The beauty of it is that it’s cheap and efficient.” After successfully growing his first crop, Hastings began selling the lettuce to local restaurants, and he hopes to continue to become a successful supplier.
Overall, first-year students seemed to enjoy their time off immensely and are eager to return to daily life in Gambier. Lewis-Schurter expressed it best: “I’m incredibly grateful to be back on campus. Now more than ever, Kenyon feels like a true home to me, and the people here are a family of my choosing.”