Opinion: Undeniably authentic


Samantha Karam is a sophomore journalism major. Contact her at [email protected].

Samantha Karam

When I lived on-campus last year, I was accustomed to the fast-paced lifestyle of a college student. I was surrounded by kids buzzing around just as much as I was. Having moved off-campus this year, I became exposed to the relaxed life that comes with living in a tiny town like Kent. Even though the university brings a lot of attention to this area, Kent really is a quaint town with quaint people, and I have a new appreciation for that now.

I currently live in an off-campus apartment and as expected, this experience has taught me a lot about responsibility. I buy groceries and pay monthly bills, whereas last year I had a meal plan at my disposal, and my living arrangements were secured with a single deposit at the beginning of each semester. That being said, living in the city of Kent has taught me a lot more than I expected to. I became a part of the community that exists beyond the campus grounds and get to see the authenticity of Kent every day.

The local restaurants—and I don’t mean Subway and McDonald’s—are amazing. Places like Rise and Shine Café and Pufferbelly have delicious food and are all so unique from one another. Eating at some of the restaurants in Kent is like getting a home-cooked meal from my grandmother. From my personal experience, business is done with a smile, and a quality experience for the customer is priority.

The local people are a breed all their own: They’re real. College is about finding yourself, and over the course of my years here I’m sure I’ll wear many different hats. I already have. Every student does. However, Kent locals seem to know each other on a deeper, more personal level. I never lived in a small town, so I wasn’t used to picking up on another person’s daily routine and getting to know them to the point where their routine becomes a part of mine. It’s been a privilege learning that there’s Wally who goes into Wild Goat’s Café as often as he can and Debby who orders the same thing from Dairy Queen multiple times a day. They all have their routines and they stick to them. I wouldn’t get to pick up on these little details of their lives if I still lived on campus.

I never realized how much of Kent I was missing out on. I spent so much time on campus looking for something to make me feel like I’m home, when I never thought to look outside of campus. I can feel like home sitting in the corner booth of Mike’s Place.

This week, The Kent Stater is focusing on this year’s “Best of Kent” contest. Take a minute to check out some of the places nominated for the various categories. Each location had a unique atmosphere and a lot of locals are regular customers, so you can get a glance at those amazing individuals.

Just because we live on campus doesn’t mean we aren’t a part of the Kent community as well. More students should take advantage of experiencing Kent’s undeniable authenticity.

Samantha Karam is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].