In the senior year there is constant talk of the next step–where we’ll all go from here and what we’ll do after we leave Middlebury. But those are scary thoughts no one likes to think about. Instead, I think we should all spend our last year (and maybe even all four years) moving out, not moving on.
As a Vermonter, I know many different Vermonts. What does this mean? It means the Middlebury way of life is not the only way of life you find if you drive around the state, especially to those areas that are far more rural. There is so much to be enjoyed about Vermont, so many different people from different backgrounds. You don’t always expect that from such a rural location, but I think getting to know the greater Vermont is an essential part of the Middlebury College experience. It would be a shame to spend all four years in only one kind of Vermont when there are so many with which to fall in love.
The Middlebury College community recently came back from Fall Break. Because Fall Break isn’t a full week, only Saturday through Tuesday, many students don’t go home and decide to stay at school and enjoy Vermont without quite as much homework. Some students take this time to explore Vermont more fully. Whether it’s spending three days in the Green Mountains surrounded by Vermont’s four-legged residences, going to a small B&B in the southern part of the state for a night, or finding a Vermont friend with whom to go home for the weekend, there are endless ways one can get to know the greater state. A day trip to Montpelier can show you what it means to be the only U.S. state capital without a McDonald’s, or a trek up to the Northeast Kingdom (a personal favorite of mine) can show you firsthand what almost 1.5 million acres of farmland looks like when covered in autumn leaves.
Middlebury is a beautiful place filled with people who have lived and worked in Vermont their entire lives, people who are only here for four years, people who thought this was temporary but absolutely had to make it home, and everything in between. It’s a diverse place filled with thousands of unique stories, and that only gets more exciting and more varied as you move around the state. If you meet a Middlebury student from Vermont, you’ll likely find he or she has a lot of other Vermont Middkid friends, because we like to revel in our shared experiences, but you’ll also find that our upbringings are very different depending on the region of Vermont in which we grew up. Where I’m from, we have farms on farms on farms, but I have a friend from Burlington–the largest city in the state–who thinks of Lake Champlain as home. We grew up in two very different versions of Vermont, but we love it all the same.
So in this time of thinking about what’s next, I like to remind myself, and those around me, to think about what’s right now and how we can spend this time enjoying and exploring the beautiful state Middlebury students call home.