A Student Perspective: Surviving the Solitude
A couple of years ago a classmate asked me where I was going for fall break. I told her I wasn't going anywhere. It was too much of a hassle and I had work to catch up on. She told me how she couldn't wait to get off campus. The fact of the matter is, unless home is too far, you're hiding from your parents, or you're broke or in love, there's not much to hang around for. And as almost any student can tell you, a big part of being at Oberlin is plotting how to get out of Oberlin. But despite this migrational urge, some students always stick around. This summer I was one of them.
RIGHT: Catherine Mayhew
It's common Obie knowledge that to maintain academic focus or even general sanity, you have to leave town. I'm sure the desperate need for escape is a feature of most rigorous academic environments, but I'm also sure the claustrophobia is not as intense at a larger school or in a larger town. The sad truth is that there's not a lot to do in Oberlin. Even during the school year there are relatively limited opportunities, a list of activities that shrinks significantly with the onset of summer. I'm an enthusiast of lazy summer days as much as the next student, and I certainly appreciate the down time, but a little excitement never hurts. No matter how much you love your job, it ends at five, and there's nothing quite so demoralizing as secretly dreading going home.
During the school year you're surrounded by people who are just as bored as you are, and you can commiserate or band together to find something to do. There's no such teamwork among summer residents. At least I haven't seen it. The weird thing about Oberlin in the summertime is the lack of people. Tappan Square on the weekend draws a few people relaxing or chasing children, but not near as many as you would expect. And if you are easily discouraged, initial social difficulties may propel you back into your apartment, further damaging convivial opportunities. Of the people I saw this summer, the majority traveled in middle school circles and frequented the sidewalk in front of Gibson's, a definite shift from the school-year downtown population.
There are a lot of kids here in the summer; camp kids, genius kids, cheerleading kids, basketball kids. And earlier in the summer during Scottish days there were a lot of bagpipes. That pretty much sums up what I witnessed during those three months, kids and bagpipes.
From what I understand, a lot of the students who stay through summer are involved in faculty-sponsored research. I imagine a lot of students were here for the same reason I was-a good job. And I'm sure there's a good segment of the summer student population escaping parents or finding true love. It's a ragged bunch. I'm guessing; I haven't seen anyone.
CATHERINE MAYHEW '99