Chapter 7: Home for the Holidays
(Editor’s Note: Jeremy Johnson ’12 and Katlyn Lee ’12 are writing monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their own post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!)
It seemed to take forever to get back home. The way out to State College felt like a lengthy trip, but the return to Wisconsin somehow felt longer. As soon as we hit the Wisconsin border between Chicago and Milwaukee, things felt better. Getting to Minocqua at nearly midnight didn’t even seem like a problem. In this case, the journey was as lovely as the destination. Even the cold and snowy weather was just right. Pennsylvania just isn’t Wisconsin.
The first two weeks of December were largely a swirl of classes and writing papers. When all was said and done, I had written about 75 pages for my term papers. Thankfully, I’m really proud of what I wrote this semester. Reading back through my papers, it was clear to me how much I have progressed even since the spring at Ripon. There was something strangely cathartic about printing out my papers, putting binder clips on them, and dropping them in my professors’ mailboxes. From the feedback I’ve gotten so far (and the grades that are posted), it looks like my professors were likewise impressed by my work. I suppose grad school is treating me well so far.
I finished my papers in time to have a visitor, my long-time roommate and friend from Ripon, Bryant Vande Kolk ’12. Bryant spent three days at our place in Pennsylvania, during which we saw The Hobbit, played a bunch of board games, toured State College, and made a trip to Hershey to see the chocolate factory and park. The trip to Hershey, unfortunately, was not as fruitful as everything else, given we visited outside the park’s limited winter hours. We were still able to do a couple things, though, so it was fun nonetheless. After the day trip to Hershey, the only thing that remained was to pack our bags and make the trip back to Wisconsin. That trip was much nicer in my new car, a 2006 Hyundai Sonata; my previous car probably would not have made it, so I suppose anything would have been an improvement.
Having been dropped off by a friend, Bryant joined us on the trip back. The halfway point being right around South Bend, Indiana, it worked perfectly to stop overnight at Bryant’s place. Bryant is a grad student at Notre Dame, so he gave us a brief tour of campus before we left in the morning. The basilica in particular was magnificent, but the whole campus was wonderful. After seeing campus, we jumped in our own cars and again hit the road, headed toward West Chicago, Illinois to visit our friend Bill Heinze ’13. Seeing Bill was fantastic—we met at his house and went out for lunch at a local restaurant. Following the visit in West Chicago, Emily and I parted ways with Bryant and drove to Oconto, Wisconsin to visit Emily’s former roommate Ariel Dickinson ’12. Seeing Ariel was a blast, but it was late in the evening so we sadly could not stay too long.
We finished the drive and arrived in Minocqua, where Emily’s family lives. I had originally planned to visit the Ripon area on my own the next day, but that ended up being the day of the large snowstorm in the southern part of the state. Delaying my trip one day, I did eventually make it to the Ripon area, which had been covered with over a foot of snow. I met with Professor Deano Pape, Professor Henrik Schatzinger, and a bunch of my friends who live in nearby Brandon. I also got to see Honey Zaw ’13 and Nyi Nyi Aung ’12. Seeing so many of my friends from Ripon was awesome.
We stayed in Minocqua for another week or so. Emily’s family is wonderful, so I felt like I was at home. We celebrated Christmas with her family, got to see her father’s adorable puppy, and enjoyed the town. We were only able to stay for a little over a week, which wasn’t as long as we would have preferred, but business in Pennsylvania called to me. We drove back to Pennsylvania, having a reasonable journey until we hit heavy snow in the mountains in the western part of the state. Arriving on the evening of the 30th, we were back just in time to celebrate a quiet and happy New Year’s. As I wrote on Facebook, every year seems to be better than the last for me. I’m not sure how I can top 2012, but I’ll keep up my hopes. Here’s to a wonderful 2013—for you as well!
Jeremy D. Johnson ’12