Life After Ripon – Sophia Kaounas ’14
Chapter 4: A Transplant
[Editor’s Note: Nathan Held ’14, Sophia Kaounas ’14, and Ariana Myers ’14 are writing rotating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]
Spring has sprung! And thank goodness it has…
After winter, it’s time for all of us to emerge from our cave and embrace Mother Nature with our shorts and sunglasses on. Albeit seasonal allergies and spring showers, I’m so happy to stretch the legs and embrace my community with the sun shining and flowers blooming.
Per usual, a few things have changed and revelations have been made. Circa February, I began the new endeavor of becoming a paralegal for an incredible law firm, Krooth and Altman LLP. The job opportunity seemed like the next sturdy lily pad to jump to, so I took the leap (after all, life really is just about jumping from one lily pad to another). Thus far, the Firm has been nothing short of wonderful. Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP will always have a place in my heart, but I am thrilled to continue down the path of my professional career.
Living and working in our nation’s capital has opened my eyes to a lot of, for a lack of a better word, woes. Calling Washington, D.C. my home while really embracing the word “home”, took longer than I thought.
I live in an architecturally beautiful city filled with historical monuments, houses are that hundreds of years old, and museums that continue to defy the odds. I live in a city filled with diversity (in all senses of the word), food from countries around the world, and bike lanes. Even though I was surrounded by all of these beautiful amenities, I had a hard time truly embracing the community. After all, one can certainly be aware of the environment they will be living in, but it is an entirely different story when you actually live in said environment. Despite traveling around the world and the United States, I am still in awe of the ups and downs of our nation’s capital.
*To preface, it may seem as though I’m about to rain hate down onto Washington, D.C. This is simply not the case. I am merely making an effort to depict the real world, as best as I can. I love the city that I live in. Through the ups and downs, my sense of discovery never expires, adventures are always just around the corner, and I live 1.5 miles away from the White House. It’s all fine.
Moving on then…
There are incredible amounts of gentrification occurring in Washington, D.C. With this urban renewal, those who once called these neighborhoods home are quickly shooed to the streets, leaving them filled with remorse and anger. This affects a community’s cleanliness, safety, and overall “ideal and comfortable” advertised feeling. Sometimes it seems like everyone feels like they are owed something. May it be a homeless man defecating in someone’s garden because that person has disposable income or the woman who shoulders you because you have to move, not her, people everywhere have lost a sense of kindness and respect. I was on a public bus and whilst sitting at the bus stop, aboard the vehicle, someone whips out a gun and shoots a man in the thigh for moving too slowly. [Note: There are some truly amazing people out here in the District. This is just the uncandid version.]
Folks, these moments of human interactions and governing are eye opening.
So, how do you survive in a new environment? I bike or run to work every day. I work at a yoga studio for two hours every Saturday morning and in turn get free yoga classes throughout the week. I hike, sit outside on my patio for no particular reason other than to just sit, and I surround myself with good company. I know that being outside and active, as well as any opportunity for me to find my Zen, allows me to truly embrace the beauty in everything and everyone (including the man yelling at the metro officer for not letting him have a free ride).
You find your pocket of true and good friends. Unlike the Ripon lifestyle, you’re not friends with everyone. You’re friends with 5-10 people who you know will have your back no matter what. You must also slow down and stop to smell the roses. Instead of walking as if you’re in a speed walking competition, stroll through your environment and find beauty in the things that you may have overlooked for months. Most importantly, you must hold your values of kindness and respect close to you and make sure you never lose them.
I sometimes take a step back to remind myself of how thankful I am for everything that I do have. The ability to bike to work using bike lanes, the ability to walk into a museum for free and spend hours indulging in natural history, a supportive family that misses me on a daily basis, friends, the ability to live and have a job…all of which I treasure.
My hope is that every one of you is content. I do believe that life is what you make of it, so as cliché as it may sound, you gotta flip that frown upside down ☺
Cheers to spring, happiness, and being home.
Sophia Kaounas ’14