By Nutchapol Boonparlit
Now that summer is here, I feel that it is necessary to discuss what Johnnies tend to do over this three month break. Most Johnnies return to their hometowns, where they apply for jobs or internships to gain a bit of work experience. Others simply go home to spend the summer re-reading some of the classics they had read over the school year. And some, like me, stay in Annapolis to catch our breath and make preparations for what we’re going to do after graduation.
It always surprises me how much St. John’s has influenced the way I perceive and think about things. As most of our rising sophomores will find out as they head home and visit their friends from high school, this education forces us to questions things that most people don’t even think about.
I remember the summer after my freshman year, when I met with a few of my friends with whom I attended high school. We were excited to see each other and shared stories about the stuff we did in college. One of my friends told me an exceptionally funny story about how his roommate woke up with his armpits on fire. Another described how he ran into a mountain lion in front of his room. I told them my story about a funny capsizing accident I had during sailing and instinctively launched into a discussion about why we found that our stories could be defined as comedy. Oblivious to their baffled looks, I ended up trying to dissect what humor was with multiple references to Aristophanes’ comedic plays and the Canterbury Tales. It took me a while before I realized that they had little to no interest in what I was talking about, so our discussion quickly changed to video games, sports, and politics.
One of the great things about St. John’s is that the discussions in class are usually so interesting that they continue even after class is over. Many come out of their classrooms animated and excited to share with their friends what they’ve talked about that day. After my first year at St. John’s, I became habituated into believing that people outside of the College would share the same enthusiasm to discuss what they’ve learned. I eventually had to shed that belief in order to avoid torpedo-fishing my high school friends.
Summer vacation is the time when Johnnies are forced out into the real world to see how their past nine months of education would play out with other people outside of the St. John’s bubble. We have to learn to balance the person we’ve become with the one we are expected to be. St. John’s is a window into a realm where the mind can contemplate and focus on high-minded ideas like virtue, beauty, tragedy, morality, and hope. But the summer is a time for people to remember that the world does not run on those ideas alone. During this time, we end up practicing how to maintain our love of learning while living a necessarily practical life. I look forward to achieving that balance and seeing where that sort of lease on life will take me.