For a campus that is so large, I am amazed by the silence that one experiences here. Sometimes I turn my chair in the Listening Room toward the window to catch sun and watch the miniature people below walking from class to class...silently. Sure, there are occasional groups of friends, turning to one another in animated conversation. But mostly, everyone seems to be going to their own destination, at their own pace, with their own thoughts. It's an interesting contrast to Bethel, which felt almost like a small town. It was always difficult to get to class on time - not because of sheer distance (as it is here at Kent), but because we couldn't resist stopping to talk to at least 10 people on our way. Unless my brother and I meet up, I go through my days here saying less than 100 words. This is absolutely mind-boggling, given my personality, and given the fact that the average female says at least 7,000 words a day. I'd say when I'm with friends or family, I speak twice that -- or at least it probably feels that way to my listeners. When I'm here at school, you can't imagine how many times I have to clamp my mouth shut to keep myself from bursting out with a cheery, "Hi, I'm Kate! What's your name?" every time someone gives me a slight smile or even just makes eye-contact. Maybe I'll start doing that...but not yet. I have to get a little more comfortable with Kent culture and state school etiquette, first.
Mostly, I find the independence and quiet to be good for me. Good for studying, good for resting my eyes when I have a free moment, good for thinking, and good for listening. Listening for that still-small voice that I can only hear when I start blocking out the noise of life. It makes me think five times more before I speak -- a good change from my usual word vomit that I can't seem to control. Basically, the silence is a lesson in self-control: listening to the whispers and waiting for the nudges. Soon, I'll start making friends and things won't be quite so quiet. But for now, I'm looking at the stillness as a blessing and an opportunity.