By Michal Kennell, Junior
On the college pro-con list one thing that stands out as a definite ‘pro’ is the fact that St. John’s has two campuses in completely different parts of the country. We have one in Annapolis, a mid-17th century bayside town complete with cobblestone streets, sailboats, and plenty of seafood. Then there’s another in the high desert city of Santa Fe, appropriated by the Spanish in 1610 (although ancient images, called petroglyphs, inscribed into the mountain cliffs evidence people living around Santa Fe since 900 CE) full of red and green chile, breathtaking mountain vistas, and all the hiking trails you could wish for.
How to choose which campus for my top 10 things? Thanks to the unique opportunity, to transfer campuses, that the college offers – I have been able to attend both! The very simple answer is not to choose. So here are 5 of my favorite things from Santa Fe, and 5 from Annapolis.
- One of the first things I fell in love with about Annapolis is the gorgeous fall foliage. My first visit to campus was in late October, and I found that the yellows, oranges, and reds of the campus trees lent the whole school a feeling of warmth and festivity. The dining hall even had desserts decorated as little ghosts, witches, and pumpkins!
- Once I arrived as a freshman in Annapolis, I realized the beauty of the water. The only body of water I had ever lived near was the Mississippi River, which isn’t exactly fit for water sports. St. John’s boathouse and College Creek gave me the opportunity to try sailing, paddle boarding, canoeing, and kayaking. I spent every Wednesday afternoon on College Creek. It was a lovely way to relax and take some time out of my week for pleasure.
- I suspect that I’m a sucker for a good holiday, but one of the next things I loved about Annapolis was the city at Christmastime. Every street was lined with lights and wreaths, and one of my friends said that she had never seen a city look so much like a gingerbread village. The college has a recreational choir that practices Christmas carols all year long, and I got to join them to go caroling through the city. Even though the night was cold, the festive atmosphere and the good company kept the cold and the late hour at bay.
My second year in Annapolis was, of course, online. At the beginning of my sophomore year, I was worried that being online would ruin things, but even though I was stuck in a different state far away from all my college friends, I got a lot of value out of that time.
- One of the things that I really appreciated, even online, was the lengths that my professors (called tutors at St. John’s) went to make sure we not only had class but experienced our classes to the highest quality possible. I really appreciated how they were willing to reach out and spend time with me individually and help me through the class or even just spend some time talking about the program.
- Another good thing that came from my time online was that I was able to form bonds and make friends with people I never would have expected to! St. John’s College’s challenging and unusual curriculum always brings students together as equals, but something about being stuck online spread across the country (and, indeed, the world) made the friends I made my sophomore year even more important, and I treasure them all the more since we struggled and hoped and studied with one another through such a strange and uncertain time.
Now, I am a junior, and although this is my first year at St. John’s Santa Fe, I have found plenty to love about this campus!
- I know I have already mentioned the mountains, but how can I refrain from talking about them twice? These mountains form the lowest basin of the Rocky Mountains, and range throughout the state. Santa Fe is situated high in the mountains, resulting in sunny, cool summer weather, and sunny, cold winters. Whether it’s 80 degrees or 30 degrees, there’s always the shade to cool you down or the sun to warm you up.
- Santa Fe is a city replete with cultural significance. The city has been influenced by Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo-Saxon cultures and St. John’s students get the rare opportunity to experience and respect all different forms of these cultures and the unique way they blend to form one city. Because of this mélange of cultural influences, art is numerous and awe-inspiring. From interactive exhibits like Meow Wolf, to the Museum of International Folk Art, to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum there is plenty to discover.
- One thing I especially appreciate about the Santa Fe campus is its laid-back atmosphere. It feels like a place where it is extraordinarily easy to connect with others, be it students or faculty and staff. There is always a place for your unique interests and perspectives.
- Like any good Johnnie, I am extraordinarily thankful for a place where I can read, learn, and think freely with a multitude of others who have a variety of backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Earlier this semester, I watched a video on YouTube about the ballet by Igor Stravinski, “The Rite of Spring”. The next morning, I went to class and told my classmates about the wild story of the ballet and found out that one of my classmates was a former ballet dancer! A month later, we had created a new club and gotten funding from the student government to meet once a week and watch a recording of a ballet production. St. John’s not only allowed me to do this, but also understood why it was worth doing—even if not everyone likes ballet, most students will be able to think and understand why someone else might enjoy it.
- This brings me to my last point: how St. John’s teaches its students to look at things from multiple perspectives. Life isn’t black and white, sometimes you’re going to have to prioritize and in order to do that, you will have to understand how things connect and what makes some things more important than others. St. John’s has taught me to see connections that I never would have expected. I now understand how mathematics has formed the way we use language, and how language has influenced the way we believe and what we value, and how music influences the way we understand things like radiowaves.
In the end, any college experience can be valuable. An education is ultimately what you make of it. But St. John’s is in the unique position to bring together thoughts, people, and values that can combine to create something unique and beautiful.