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Life Lessons from Melissa: Summer in Athens stifles energetic student life

I don’t claim to know any more than others about the surprising and often disconcerting speed bumps that life so graciously provides us, but I do seem to struggle with quite a few of them.

Strange things and strange people seem to flow endlessly into my life; some are frightening, some are beautiful, most are hilarious, and all are interesting.

In my past two years at Ohio University, I have learned more about human nature than I could have ever hoped.

I have been shocked and appalled, amazed and awed at the things we, as citizens of this earth, are capable of doing. Luckily, the realizations I have come to are shared knowledge between us all.

I know that I am young and ignorant; I have obtained just a small fraction of the knowledge that will occupy my mind at the time of my death (I hope).

I am searching incessantly for any insight into our astonishing existence in our world, so I hope to provide other seekers entertaining anecdotes, advice and postulations from my own small-scoped perspective.

As a cliché, I must acknowledge the start of the new school year. I am entering my junior year here and feel slightly underwhelmed by the thought.

I stayed in Athens during the summer, which proved to be wholly and honestly disappointing, but incredibly enlightening.

Moving into my first apartment was exciting for about a day and a half — until real-life came in the form of broken ceiling fans, grocery shopping and lack of cable.

I read 11 books, scraped a lot of lasagna off trays and took a theory class.

Athens seemed relatively empty, but it was not until the return of the entire student body that I realized just how much this town needs its students.

In the summer, businesses close early, the streets are quiet on “Thirsty Thursday,” and walking all the way up Mill Street is even less enjoyable without the addition of the nice people-watching it normally provides.

Needless to say, I was uncharacteristically antsy about starting classes, which so far has proved to be futile.

Since I was here all summer, I have not experienced the joy of coming back to our Southeast Ohio haven and am finding myself more than slightly annoyed with all the sidewalk traffic and nighttime noise.

I have found either a new insight into the feelings of native Athenians, or I am becoming prudish and crotchety like an old woman who lives next door to a drunken frat party — oh, wait ...

Either way, I don’t enjoy it.

Life-lesson number one: Living in a small town basically alone for three months will make you irritable.

I was once as fun-loving and rowdy as the average Bobcat. But now all I want to do is sit on my sectional in my bathrobe and watch Mad Men all weekend.

Athens has become quite the paradox for me. A place that once obliterated my shell has now forced me back into it. This rut that I am in has not been common amongst my friends and roommates that stayed here with me.

I am hoping that I am not somehow ruined forever by the trauma I obtained while watching a grown man go up an escalator for the first time in his life (in Baker University Center in July, he told me he lived on a farm, even though I didn’t ask).

My mindset has changed significantly from living here this summer, and I do not wish to repeat it. This is a negative review, but it is an honest one.

It’s not the same here without the students, and I am sure that it suits the native residents beautifully. For me however, I came to this university for the student interaction, and having it taken away and replaced again has thrown me off my 22-year-old track.

So students, do your scholarly and Ohio-ly duty and help a sista’ out by being exactly the same as you were when you left last spring.  

Melissa Knueven is a junior studying communications and a columnist for The Post. If you can rewind the clock and give her the summer she expected, email her at

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