Why Getting Outside the “Kenyon Bubble” Can Be Refreshing

The “Kenyon Bubble” is a phrase I’ve heard repeated over and over during my short time at this school. It’s true that the school is not only small but also so inwardly focused that it can feel like Kenyon is the entire world. This is especially true because to leave the campus, you need a friend with a car and a high tolerance for cornfields.     

This can be a good or bad thing, and for many students here, it’s a positive. I, myself, definitely saw the benefits of having an undergrad experience focused just on learning, forming a tight-knit community, and making a life within this tiny, rural space. We all knew what we sacrificed by coming here—there are no impromptu shopping trips when the mall is an hour away. And, it’s not just the distance. Every time I venture further than Mt. Vernon, a panic creeps up. Am I missing out on the quintessentially Kenyon experience by going outside the bubble?

My boyfriend goes to school at Ohio State, and, despite their proximity, the schools could not be more different. Ohio State is in a city with every chain restaurant you can imagine within a convenient bus ride or even a short walk, and with half of the tens of thousands of students living off campus, it could never be called a bubble. A week ago, I drove up to Easton with my friends and then visited him, and despite having an amazing time, a little piece of me wondered what Kenyon experiences I was missing. I’d been warned by everyone from my mom to upperclassmen that at a school like this, you stay on campus and immerse yourself in that experience.​But being trapped in the bubble doesn’t allow much room for reflection. My first month of school, the only time I went somewhere I couldn’t walk to was a dinner in Mount Vernon, and as exciting as it was to be swept up in all things Kenyon and to truly focus on learning to live and be a student here, it was also overwhelming. The problem with having a life that is so focused on one central place is that it can quickly become the only thing that matters. Getting “outside” made me realize that little annoyances or embarrassments that were such a large part of my world really didn’t matter that much. Not only that, but it made me realize what I love about Kenyon, and about this unique experience. Never again will I have the luxury of being completely absorbed in such a small world with the ability to dig deep into a place and be free of all obligations except for school. After all, we will have to face the outside world at some point or another.​

Venturing outside the bubble also showed me all the benefits of being aware of the larger world around us. It’s easy, when you’re here, to think that campus politics are life or death, but we miss out on some of the real issues in the world. We also miss out on new perspectives, beautiful places, and fascinating people, other than the ones we see every day and know so well. As hard as it can be to leave this insular life, even for a weekend, it’s vital to be uncomfortable and get away from what you know so well.

Plus, that great big world has some pretty good food.

Image Credit: Feature,1,2