A Lex-tastic summer

Reid Gaede

As we get underway with the 2015-2016 academic year here at W&L, the summer months are quickly fading into the memories of each and every student. Even my sister’s graduation in front of Lee Chapel seems like it occurred a millennia ago, when in fact it was only this previous May, or perhaps the beginning of June – my recollection is already waning.

The case in point here is that our experiences over the summer are no longer at the forefront of our minds, and we are completely occupied with what is happening around us at this very second.

By the end of the first full week of classes, the fall sports season is in full swing; extracurriculars have had their info sessions, recruited new members and are now gearing up for normal operation. I have already had a test and completed two papers, and I witnessed some of my fellow classmates sleeping in Leyburn out of exhaustion.

Yes, school is in session, ladies and germs, but before you get too deep into the world of Lex Vegas, I want to talk to you about my experience staying in Lexington for part of the summer and why you all should consider spending some time here at W&L during the dog days of summer.

I was in Lexington for roughly half of this previous summer as an intern on campus. This was to be my first internship ever and like most people, I was anxious in the face of the unknown and what I perceived to be my taking another irrevocable step towards adulthood.

However, I was comforted somewhat by the knowledge that instead of working in a place where the pace of life is decidedly breakneck, such as New York or Washington, D.C., I was taking this step in a setting that was familiar.

To be fair, the vast majority of my friends would be gone, but I knew my way around town and rested easy in the knowledge that I could easily make a Sheetz run whenever I felt particularly inclined towards ruining my metabolism for the next week.

I was relatively at ease with devoting part of my precious summer toward working in a town that I perceived to be a wispy shell of its usual self. I am happy to say that my time in Lexington was everything I expected it to be and more.

Yes, it is absolutely true that Lex Vegas is a very quiet place in the summer with the majority of students back home or working. However, there is a surprisingly large population of students still here.

Staying in Lexington gives you a tremendous opportunity to meet and become acquainted with students that you may never have crossed paths with otherwise. For me in particular, these were science majors and people from other Greek organizations.

It is also important to note that it is not solely other students with whom you will connect in new ways: You will find that those you work with – particularly if you are working with faculty or staff on campus – show a different side of themselves during summer.

In my experience, it was not out of the norm for my fellow interns, superiors and I to take time out of our still-busy day to get lunch and just chat with one another. It is truly amazing how having the opportunity to simply sit down and chat with others around you can so immensely broaden your understanding of others’ experience as well as your own.

One worry that I’ve heard from classmates about staying in Lexington over the summer concerns the astoundingly decelerated pace of life in the area. Yes, things are a lot slower in Lexington over the summer, but the hidden beauty of this is that you get to take time to do things that you almost certainly never would have done before.

For example, I was able to take the time after work to go and walk a vast portion of the Woods Creek Trail one day – something I simply would have been unable to find the time or motivation to do during the school year.

If long, quiet walks aren’t your thing, you can head on over to Lime Kiln Theater where it seems like every Friday night they have the newest hit folk group in the house.

Are you a foodie at heart? Take the time to enjoy a meal at each of Lexington’s fine establishments, from Foothill Momma’s to Haywood’s (if you’re a high-roller with the money for that sort of cuisine).

Have a Saturday where you and your other friends that stayed in town literally have nothing to do? Summer in Lex is the perfect time for you all to take that trip that you have been talking about since sophomore year but have always had to put off because someone had a paper to write, or a meeting to go to or was too hungover to function.

The point that I am trying to make here is that by staying in Lexington, the possibilities of what you can do with your summer are virtually limitless. The amount of determination that you have to get out there and explore Rockbridge County really factors into it.

It matters not whether you consider yourself a run-of-the-mill W&L student who will go into investment banking right after graduation, or a total hipster who is always down for an anti-oppression poetry slam. When you spend your summer in this quiet little town, all of Blue Ridge is at your fingertips to experience (responsibly, of course) as you see fit.