My friend Kathryn is in Norway.

No, she isn’t on vacation, finding her roots, backpacking across Europe or on some nontraditional study abroad program. She’s working on an organic farm.

Let me give you a little background on Kat. She’s always been the epitome of a free spirit. While other friends did community service and studied hard to pad their resumes and prepare for college, Kathryn skipped school and rode her bike. It wasn’t that she was dumb, she was actually one of the brightest kids I knew. She took honors classes and had friends from every social group in school. She played the cello and was a prom queen nominee.

Doesn’t that make Kathryn sound like the type of girl you hated in high school? Well, she wasn’t. Her spontaneous lifestyle didn’t always result in the grades her brains warranted. She preferred improvising to doing what her orchestra conductor told her, and she was so amused by her prom queen nomination that she sewed a black feather boa onto an old dress and had her date drive her to the dance . in a wheelbarrow. I, on the other hand, did my homework every night and had my activities and chores on a schedule. I remember how Kathryn seemed to offer me a little window of freedom. In the summer, we would stay up all night talking and ride our bikes to Wawa when it opened to get coffee. She showed me an old rope swing in the woods and how the forbidden dam in the river was actually a wildly fun water slide. The times I had with her were so much more valuable than the hours I spent studying for the SATs.

Despite Kat’s intelligence, we never thought she would make it to college, but she pulled it together at the end of senior year and enrolled in a small college in Wisconsin, planning to study the environment and become a park ranger. But college was too restricting for Kat, and she left after her freshman year.

And now she’s in Norway. Hitchhiked there from Paris, no less. She writes about meeting a man who wanted to talk about nothing but Biggie Smalls, and another who wouldn’t shut up about Philadelphia cream cheese when he found out that is where she was from (FYI: it didn’t actually originate in Philly.) She’s hauling wood, digging potatoes, constructing chicken pens and feeding animals. One of the farmers has taught her to juggle. She got lost one night on a hike with a friend, and spent the night in an abandoned stone shelter. She’s learning how to communicate and live with all sorts of people, and how to survive on a farmhand’s salary. She doesn’t know where she’ll be going next.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s what all of us should be doing. College seems almost too safe. Have you ever had someone ask you why you went to college? For many of us, it’s hard to answer that question. College was a question of “where,” not “why,” or “how.” One of my professors described college as a warehouse, where we are being stowed until the workforce is ready for us. Sometimes I think that’s true. We spend hours studying in Lauinger, perking up our ashen faces with giant-sized lattes. We do this so that, in four years, we can drink even bigger lattes on our way to Wall Street and the White House. When do we really see the world? And I don’t mean the world you see on spring break in Jamaica or at your study abroad university in London or Paris. I mean the world with goat farmers and random new friends; where being on your own doesn’t just mean splitting the electric bills in your Northwest Washington apartment.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the education I’m getting at Georgetown, and I think it’s right for me – my practical sensibilities (and purse) probably wouldn’t let me choose otherwise. And farming in Norway is, quite likely, not for everyone. But sometimes, when I’m up until ungodly hours writing a paper, or dragging myself out of bed at 7:30 a.m. to commute to my internship, I wonder who is learning more. Maybe Kathryn had it right all along.

Ashley Fedor is a junior in the College.

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