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Amicitia Pulchra Est

January 12, 2018

Ruth Bieber-Stanley ’21

Do you like my Latin title? It is funny because I am super pretentious. The previous sentence is paraphrased from a beloved high school friend of mine. In the notes pages of my trusty ol’ iPhone 5 I have a delightful file entitled “Quotes notes.” This entertaining reservoir is a running document of funny and/or out of context things my family and friends say. Some favorites include:

“Purgatory is my safety school.”

“Fish are weird and scary. Where are their arms?!?!?!!?!”

“I had a dream that I murdered thousands of sentient eggs.”

and one of my all-time favorites: “There are no cheat days on the no boy diet.”  

Looking through that page is the proverbial walk through memory lane, and it makes me smile and laugh just to look at it and appreciate the wonderful friends I have in my life. Reading through this file from beginning to (current) end is a journey. I usually remember the context of when the quotes were said, whether it was while eating lunch in an English teacher’s classroom (Hi, Heather), a late night silly movie session, or a stroll through the narrow streets of Cáceres, Spain. One fascinating feature of the quotes notes is the visible transition from Albuquerque to Oberlin. I am now proud to say that many of my Oberlin friends feature prominently in the quotes notes.

Before I left for college, the prospect of having to make friends made me want to climb into an elaborately engineered blanket fort with no chance of eventual emergence. I was PETRIFIED. I went to the same school for seven years pre-Oberlin, and while I had friends in middle school, it took me awhile to really find my “crowd,” the people I consider to be my true friends. This is especially interesting considering the fact that my class consisted of only 65-70 people for those seven years. Essentially, I hadn’t needed to make a new friend in seven years. But at Oberlin, I knew NO ONE coming in, except for one kid who went to the same high school as me, but we weren’t really friends so much as acquaintances. If you've read any of my writing, you may now know that I am not an extrovert. I hate small talk and crowds.  When thinking of Orientation, burrowing my head into the sand like some sort of weirdly short-legged ostrich seemed more and more attractive. If left to my own devices, I could easily become a hermit and build some ostentatious palace in an idyllic location like the Bavarian King Ludwig, a known misanthrope who was found mysteriously drowned in a river with his senior official after depleting the country’s funds building aforementioned castles.

Luckily, any misanthropic tendencies were evaded as soon as I moved to Oberlin. The thing about college is that it really forces you to interact with other humans. Honestly, making friends happened much more naturally than I expected it would. I credit the college to some degree for helping me out with this. Events during orientation and the PAL program, which put me with my 1st-year seminar literally on the first day, gave me a few footholds early on. Here’s the thing: colleges want their students to be happy and have friends. That means that they're more likely to stay. So, thanks, Oberlin, for forcing me to get to know some humans during my first week.

Lots of people told me before I left for college that the people I met during orientation would not be the people I remained friends with. While this is the case for some, or even many, it was not for me, surprisingly. The core of my good friends at Oberlin are people I met within the first week of school, and I have gotten very close with these people; it’s hard to remember that I didn’t know them seven months ago.

Meeting and making friends in college happens in strange yet natural ways. Some you become close with by virtue of being in the same classes and bonding over the difficulties (Chem OWL sessions are a surprisingly good place to make friends) that come with that class, or shared interests. Some of the people I am friends with at Oberlin I would have never thought I would be friends with, either because I misjudged them at first or just because we are very different. One of my closest friends is someone I didn’t even like the first time I met them; turns out, they didn’t like me either, but now we are super close (I’m convinced we didn’t like each other at first because we are secretly the same person. I think it's a government conspiracy). Needless to say, I did make friends (!!!), and I needn’t have worried so much about it in the months preceding college.

I am spending my winter term at home in Albuquerque doing an independent project in German (stay tuned for a post about WT in the next month), and that means that by this point, the majority of my non-Obie friends have already gone back to their out-of-state schools. This is callous ABANDONMENT, I tell you. Rude. Anyhow, some of these friends expressed an unwillingness to return to school. This has not been as much of a problem for me, since in many ways I still feel like I’m on break; but the longer I’m here, the more I want to go back to Oberlin. Don’t get me wrong; being in my house and seeing my family and a blue sky is wonderful, but I really miss my Oberlin friends. I also miss who I am at Oberlin.

In a way, it’s a good thing that I miss Oberlin. I remember before fall break, I was talking to my grandma, and I mentioned that I was getting homesick. She said that was a good thing, because it meant that I loved my family. The same is true of my Oberlin friends. It’s good that I miss them, because it means I care.

One of the (main) reasons I came to Oberlin was because of the people. I knew that the type of people Oberlin attracts were the type of people I wanted to be with; to live with, to learn with, to grow with, to love. And so far, I have loved the people I have met. Obies are passionate, curious, intelligent people who want to make the world they live in better. I love my school, and I love the people in it. I chose the right place, and I’m extremely grateful to anyone and everyone who helped me get here and stay here. And if any of my Obie friends are reading this, watch out, it’s gonna be hug city when I get back. There is no escape from my tiny affectionate arms. 

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