Illustration By Emily Aslanis
The first time I visited campus was in the spring. My mom picked me up from school early, and we drove the hour to Kent down the winding country roads. It was early April and just warm enough to walk around campus without a coat but just cold enough that I was excited to enter the warmth of my mom’s minivan once again.
We started at the Student Center and worked our way across the sprawling campus. My parents used to live here before I was born. My dad got his master’s degree at Kent and then worked for the university. My parents got married here. They bought their first house here. My mom started working on her master’s here, and then they moved to New York where I was born. My mom showed me the building where my dad’s office once was.
This all sounds great in retrospect, but at the time, I hated Kent. And I said that to my mom, loudly, as we passed Taylor Hall where the daffodils were just starting to bloom. I asked her about this recently, and she rolled her eyes and talked about how painful it was to drag me around campus that day.
The problem wasn’t that I didn’t like Kent State. It just wasn’t my first choice, and I resented the university for that. I didn’t even think about going here until my mom made me visit campus after I got accepted. I never went on a campus tour. I never bought a shirt at the bookstore. I didn’t even commit to Kent until May 1, the last possible day I could. I was in denial. But as the financial aid packages came in, it became very clear that Kent was my only option. I had such a clear vision of what I wanted my college experience to look like, and since it wasn’t at Kent, I didn’t think I could ever be happy here. The idea of attending Kent State magnified my perceived failure to reach my dreams on a major level.
My senior year of high school ended with academic highs and mental health lows. I didn’t have the coping mechanisms to work through my resentment and disappointment. I spent that summer in therapy slowly working on myself, all while dreading the major change I was about to experience.
I continued to put off college that summer. I went to Destination Kent State the last weekend it was being held. I didn’t apply for housing until after that even, meaning I was stuck in transitional housing with three other people. I’m not going to lie, my first semester here was really terrible. I hated my classes, didn’t make any friends and rarely left my dorm on the weekends. I felt stuck dwelling in what I perceived to be my own mediocrity.
Then, spring came around. I had started seeing a new therapist on campus in the fall, and the things she said finally started to stick. I got a job and made friends that gave me a reason to leave my dorm on the weekends. I took more classes in my major and realized how lucky I was to be going to a school with such incredible faculty. I shifted my perspective. Kent wasn’t what I thought I wanted, but it’s what I really needed. I thought I wanted to live in a city far from home. Kent’s small town feel and being so close to home are reasons why I never considered it as an option, but I would be lost anywhere else. The things I hated before are what keep me grounded now.
Spring is my favorite season on campus. I love watching it come to life, both with students creeping out of their winter gloom and with flowers as everything starts to bloom. I can’t tell you how many pictures are in my camera roll of the dogwood trees with the white blossoms by Eastway or the early bloomers slowly coming to life. They give me so much joy and hope. Last year, when everyone went home because of the pandemic, I spent countless hours walking across the deserted campus, taking in spring in all its glory.
It took a lot of work to get to where I am today, a lot of therapy and a lot of time. It was well over a year after I started seeing my therapist that I fully came to the realization that I was genuinely happy here. Not just happy, but in love with my campus, the city of Kent and my life. But looking back, that change started in the spring when the daffodils began to peek out in front of Taylor Hall.
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Hi, I’m Holly Liptak, a senior journalism student from Akron and the editor-in-chief of The Burr this semester. My staff and I are committed to bringing you interesting, humorous and hard-hitting stories that tap into current events, trends and the lives of those who have made a home in Kent, Ohio. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate.
Abigail Bottar is a junior at Kent State University. She is pursuing a major in political science with a concentration in American politics and minors in history and women’s studies. This is Abigail’s third semester working for The Burr and first as copy desk chief. She also is an intern at WKSU. In her free time, Abigail enjoys going to Trader Joe’s, rewatching “Gilmore Girls” and reading. You can follow her on Twitter at @AbigailBottar to see more of her work.