Adjusting From Suburban to Rural Life

In my hometown, driving 30 minutes in any direction takes you to a shopping complex. In rural Ohio, doing the same delivers you to a small town, if not just an open field. Growing up in the suburbs, I never truly wanted for anything—but I pretended I did, and so did everyone else. When I told people that I was coming to Kenyon, they were shocked to find out it was in such a rural area. My best friends would ask me why I wanted to live like that, how I thought I was going to survive without easy access to the upper-middle class lifestyle, etc. I told them it would be no big deal, I wasn’t that far removed from society, and dropped the conversation.

Reflecting on my first month at Kenyon, I realize that the adjustment period was tough, and it continues to be. My friends and I were desperate to find excuses to get off campus after just two weeks, and we continue to long for the lifestyle we’re used to. In high school, I would study at a Starbucks or a Panera all day. I would hop in my car and pick up Noodles & Company or Chick-fil-a whenever I was hungry, shop at Forever 21 if I decided I wanted a new top. Everything was commercialized, and I had no real understanding of what a life without chain stores was like. But, there is an inherent simplicity to rural life–one I’m learning to embrace.​In more ways than one, being on a rural campus has lessened the pressure I once felt on a day-to-day basis. There’s a more leisurely pace to life here. I used to stress about where my friends and I would go for dinner on a Friday night (which practically counted as an activity), but that question no longer eats at my brain. At Kenyon, I can pick up my phone, call a friend, and join them within five minutes. I felt obligated to always be busy in high school, always with someone. Now, I’m discovering how to be alone and how to take time for myself, and it’s been incredibly refreshing.​ The most stark and consistent difference I’ve observed, though, has been in community warmth. People will stop and talk to you on Middle Path, say hello even if they’ve never seen you before. Despite Kenyon being a rigorous academic environment, it is not so cutthroat. Being from the Washington, D.C. suburbs, so many people get caught up in the stress of the region, whether that be the result of endless traffic or increasingly terrifying politics. It can become a cold, isolating place when all anyone wants to focus on is themselves. Everyone wants to be “better” than someone else, no matter how subjective that term may be.

While I know I still have a long way to go in terms of adjustment, recognizing and embracing all the changes coming at me have helped to make the process smoother. For now, though, the Amazon Prime packages will continue to roll in.

Image Credit: Feature,1,2