Over Hill, Over Dale, to Dutch Country We Go

Last weekend was Fall Fest at Arcadia, a time for students’ families to visit and do fun activities together. Although it was nice to see a bunch of happy families walking around campus, it did make me feel a bit homesick being so far away from Oregon and my own family. Luckily, I have a wonderful roommate, Kristen, whose parents and sister wanted to turn the day into an adventure by visiting Kitchen Kettle Village in Lancaster County. They invited me to go along, and I excitedly agreed. I haven’t ventured very far away from campus yet, so I was elated to see more of Pennsylvania.

It was rainy and cold that day, enhancing that wonderful musty scent of fall. As we drove through Lancaster County, I could hardly believe my eyes as I saw a horse and buggy gallop past. Tick-tock, tick-tock, the horse’s hooves raced down the narrow street. Kristen’s parents informed me that that’s how people of the Amish culture travel. I didn’t know much about the Amish religion and way of life, so I learned a lot that day.

Leaving the college environment filled with leggings, short skirts, crop tops, and muscle shirts, and spending the day surrounded by Amish culture was quite a change of pace, as you can imagine. The Amish dress in simple, humble clothing because they believe that God has called them to live a simple life of faith, discipline, humility, and dedication. They really believe in helping out neighbors in need, which is reflected in the value they place on composure, privacy, and calmness. I learned that this area of Lancaster County is called “Dutch Country” because there is a high concentration of German, or deutsch, inhabitants. Many people of the Amish faith immigrated to Pennsylvania from Germany and Switzerland to escape religious persecution and poverty.

Excited to learn this history and culture, we pulled into the village. When we stepped out I saw a large display of colorful pumpkins and squash, and bales of hay sat in front of a “Welcome to Kitchen Kettle Village” sign. People walked around with mulled apple cider, and everyone seemed to be smiling.

I gawked at where I was standing: a cold and foggy cobblestone street teeming with crinkling blue and gold corn husks, charming pudgy pumpkins, and the smell of candied apples and kettle corn swirling in the air. The road was lined with shops with wooden framing and low ceilings filled with jars of pickles, jams, and dried beans. Pies, cakes, and pumpkin goodies stocked the shelves and baskets. Other shops held Christmas lights and paintings, holiday decorations, and Amish souvenirs, such as little dolls and hats.

Seeing the Dutch Country was fantastic; it was so interesting to see a place where people lived a lifestyle that I had only heard about in books and shows. Of course it’s still a bit of a mystery to me, and there’s still so much that I don’t know. My mom has always wanted to see this area, so I was sending her pictures and videos all day to make it seem like she was there with me for Fall Fest weekend.

When we arrived back on campus I had time to reflect on the day, and also my experiences in Pennsylvania so far. It hasn’t been the easiest journey to venture so far away for school, but being in this state and experiencing all that it has to offer has been wonderful. I often get asked, “You’re from Oregon? Why did you come here from so far away?” I don’t always know how to respond, because part of the reason was because it just felt right. I also say that I came here to experience a different culture with historical places nearby.