Section: Opinion

The first fortnight: field notes from a first year

By Gabrielle Healy

“Where are you from?” “What’s your name again?” “Where are you living?” “Welcome to Kenyon!” These snippets are probably something that most upperclassmen remember from conversations of the distant, awkward past.
However, I’m a first-year student, and as a result, each question is a common part of nearly every conversation I’ve had with individuals in recent times. Sure, being a first year can be challenging (I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to the girl carrying a drink whom I bumped into in Peirce a couple days ago). However, I feel that this experience is not quite as terrible as I had anticipated — almost everyone here is in the same (new) boat.
First of all, Kenyon seems much bigger than I expected. Although none of my class rosters exceed 40 people, the streams of people walking along Middle Path in the afternoon indicate that there are tons of people to get to know — even though the student population is small in comparison to other colleges.
The College also seems more diverse than website reviews lead people to believe. Just in my first two weeks, I’ve met people from Zimbabwe and China and learned about student associations focused on far-flung locations around the globe.
As for classes, my professors seem to be as engaging, friendly and knowledgeable as advertised, which is absolutely excellent. The Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) is also wonderful but, as one professor commented, sometimes looks like it was beamed down from space when compared to nearby Old Kenyon.
I feel like it’s way too early to be disappointed about anything, except for the campus feature dubbed “Middle Gash.” [ed. note: “Middle Gash” refers to the now treeless section of Middle Path under construction] However, I hear that the construction is for its benefit and Middle Path will be returned to its former glory quite soon.
In addition, a few things surprised me upon my arrival to campus. One example, which might seem a bit basic, is that actress Allison Janney ’82 is a Kenyon alumna. She portrayed one of my favorite TV characters, C. J. Cregg, on The West Wing, so hopefully I will be granted some of her wit and charm by extension. Also, the Horn Gallery is a great space to hear fellow students’ work and outside bands. I was excited to “discover” it, because although I spent a night here as a prospective student this past spring, my host and I didn’t speak about the Horn at all. I had a great time at the show last Friday, and I’m definitely looking forward to more events.
While being a first year sometimes isn’t easy, it’s definitely not boring, and I’m looking forward to what the future might hold on the Hill.

Gabrielle Healy ’18 is undeclared from Fairhaven, Mass. She can be reached at


Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at