There are always certain attributes of any campus that make it unique and personal to the students there – that make Kenyon “Quintessential Kenyon” as the admissions office loves to say. The rural setting, Old Kenyon’s gothic architecture, small classes, Middle Path, and Georgia Nugent are all examples of things that are quintessentially Kenyon. Studying abroad this semester in Cape Town has introduced me to the attributes that are quintessentially UCT. So why not see what happens when we throw down the gauntlet on the two schools and go quintessentially head-to-head, Hunger Gamez style, to see which school triumphs on just how quintessential it is (say quintessential again). May the odds ever be in your favor, betches!
1. Overall Campus Beauty
This one has been a challenge for me to come to grips with ever since I arrived in Cape Town. Kenyon was memorably was named Most Beautiful Campus in the World by Forbes magazine two years ago – a tidbit I like to consistently rub in my friends’ faces who have to endure attending school at somewhere as fugly as Colby or Middlebury (#eyesores). And honestly (when your back is facing the library, and Gund Commons is out of eyeshot) there really isn’t anything that’s not beautiful about Kenyon. But, at the risk of alienating the Kenyon population, this particular showdown goes to UCT in my book. I tried to fight this realization for as long as possible to avoid feeling like I was two-timing Kenyon, but now I’ve come to accept UCT as my chick on the side, #letitburn. There is absolutely nothing that is not epic about UCT. The campus is built into the side of Devil’s Peak and looks over the entire city of Cape Town. The buildings have gorgeous red tiled roofs and the landscaping is unbelievable. Sorry Kenyon, imma let you finish, but UCT has the prettiest campus of all time. Watch da throne, Gambier.
Winner: University of Cape Town
2. The Cove vs. The Kove
I'm driving along the coast of Cape Town on my first weekend here when, out of my periphs, I see the one thing that could make me miss Gambier in wintertime – a sign for The Kove. Embarrassingly, my first thought was that the Kardashians had opened up a branch of the Cove in Cape Town, but then I remembered that they probably haven’t even heard of Ohio, let alone Gambier…and possibly not even South Africa. I hoped against hope that the Kove would be a bar or a club that I could go to with the four other Kenyon students studying in Cape Town this semester when we felt nostalgic for fried mac & cheese triangles and PBR. To my dismay, it turns out the Kove is a decently fancy seafood restaurant that would definitely be a hot spot for 60-70 year olds who frequent Cape Cod and complain about "hooligans." Shame. While the menu looks delicious and I’m always game for some surf & turf, the Cove trounces the competition in this round. No fried mac & cheese, no quesadillas, no bouncer who pretends he cares if you’re 21…in a nutshell: no Cove O’Clock. And what is a cove without a clock?
3. The KAC Hill vs. The UCT Hill
The KAC Hill is the bane of Kenyon existence. I don’t actually go to the KAC (oops), but when I really want a smoothie or have to watch a movie there for class, there is some serious internal debate over whether Berry Berry or my 10% attendance grade actually outweighs having to walk back up that hill. For those who actually use the KAC for its purpose, that hill is the last thing you want to endure after a work out. Among my friends, it has been appropriately dubbed “The Hill of Death.” However, like I mentioned before, UCT is literally (or with a South African/Chris Traeger accent: LIT-trally) located on the side of a mountain. Meaning that my morning commute to school consists of: 5-minute spurts of walking; pretending that I'm purposefully getting hit by the sprinklers; sweating profusely; and being so embarrassingly out of breath once I reach the top that UCT students actually laugh at me. The first third of my journey is equivalent to the length of the KAC Hill…so imagine three of those in 80-degree heat. To be fair, there is a shuttle system, but it’s so far out of the way of my house that it’s not even worth it, so this analysis is from specifically my experience. On the bright side I’ll probably have a really toned caboose by the end of this, but even the allure of a fit booty doesn’t make me feel better when I’m sucking wind and only halfway there. UCT takes gold in this round.
Winner: University of Cape Town
4. The Shuttle vs. The Minibus Taxi
“Back to Gambier?” How I miss hearing Frank’s drawl when he picks me up from a rousing shopping spree at Walmart. “CAAAAAPPPEE TOWNNN?” “WYYYNNNBERRRGGG?” The different areas of Cape Town constantly shouted at me have replaced the sweet serenade of the shuttle man’s voice. At first it scared me when the minibus attendants would try and usher me into their (semi-broken down) vehicle while calling me "beautiful lady," but now I’ve learned to love it. In terms of reckless driving, the minibuses only outdo the shuttle driver by a small margin. I’ve feared for my life just as much on the streets of Cape Town as I do when the shuttle whips down the hill on Yauger Road – you know what I’m talking about. Minibuses are only mildly more terrifying because there are dozens of them on the road at any given moment, and all of them are competing to reach pick-up points first, so there’s a lot of driving on the wrong side of the road and cutting one another off. While both modes of transport are dear to my heart, the minibuses take this round because of their convenience. They run constantly (unlike the shuttle) and they get me into the city for the equivalent of less than a dollar (unlike a legitimate cab company, which costs about $10). Also, they’re constantly bumping Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Akon (people here LOVE Akon), so what’s not to love? (Minus the whole potential of getting robbed or killed in an accident.)
Winner: University of Cape Town
I don’t know if anyone else has heard this, but apparently most students who study abroad don’t actually do a lot of studying! But surriosly, it’s obviously no secret that most students who go abroad tend to do a lot more partying and tourist-ing than actual studying. Part of it comes from really wanting to get to know the city you’re in and experience the culture, and part of it is that you just don’t want to do work, especially if your grades don’t count towards your GPA (sorry I’m not sorry, Kenyon in Rome). At UCT you do have to attend a certain amount of classes in order to be able to write the final exam (which is worth about 80% of your final grade here) so I go to class fairly regularly and really enjoy what I've been learning. It’s also been a bit of a cultural experience in that my class sizes are about 10x the size of the biggest class I’ve taken at Kenyon. I’ve also gained some serious insight from the constant hating-on-America theme. In my experience, professors here are generally uninterested in seeing you outside of class time and rarely ever email you back. I could go on, but I think it’s pretty evident that it’s nearly impossible to compete with the academic program at Kenyon. Going to a big university has only reassured me that a small liberal arts college is the perfect fit for me. I like having professors who I know and who are interested in my life outside of class. I like knowing most of the people who are in my classes and who I see walking around campus. I like the comfort of being a part of such a small and intimate community. I LIKE KENYON, OKAY? #kenyonsick. Without a doubt, Kenyon takes the cake on this round.
Clearly, both UCT and Kenyon have a lot to offer in many different areas. While my affair with UCT has been nothing but a good time, Kenyon will always be #1 in ma heart. I’d like to think if Katniss had to choose between the two, she would choose Kenyon, if only because the surrounding wilderness would feel homey for her. Peeta would definitely work at the Deli. (Side note: the movie hasn’t been released here and I’m DYIN.')
Toast one for me at the Cove ya’ll!