Oberlin Blogs

(Another) Obie Bucket List

January 30, 2022

Charlize Villasenor ’23

There are so many moments that are quintessential to the Obie experience. Some of them are a little common and are part of the general college experience that many students have across the United States, but some are pretty specific to Oberlin. I feel that each Obie’s bucket list is different based on past experiences or factors like friends groups, major, hometown, etc., but I feel like this bucket list is representative of who I am, what I’ve done, what I would like to do, and who I surround myself with. I haven’t crossed off every item on this list, but I intend to get through it before I graduate. Without further ado, here’s my Obie bucket list!

  1. Shave your head - Sometimes it feels good to assert some form of separation from the past or do something to get a feeling of self reliance and doing what makes you happy without the approval of others. Sometimes this comes in the form of a haircut some might deem drastic, sometimes this comes in the form of a tattoo, and other times it's a little less obvious like restarting an instagram feed or unfollowing people you weren’t actually friends with in high school. If it isn’t obvious, I’ve done 3 of 4 of these things. So even if you don’t specifically shave your head, do something to assert the new chapter of your life that is college.

  2. Dye your hair - This goes hand and hand with shaving your head. Sometimes it takes more than one action to really feel like you’re in a new chapter of your life, or to remind yourself that you’re your own main character. For me, that meant shaving my head AND dying it a bright color, because I had done neither before. I mean, might as well go all out, right? I’ll tell you right now that I’ve never felt better than when my head was shaved and lavender or silver, and it helped me realize that I don’t have to stay in the shell of what I think I “should” look like or be like. Embrace change, especially when it’s something low stakes like this.

  3. Cook with friends in a dorm kitchen - Some of my favorite memories from the summer semester are of my friends and I preparing food and cooking all day on a Saturday and ending the day with a warm meal and good friends. There’s a good chance you won’t eat much of the cultural foods from back home, so it’s a great time to call up your parents or grandparents and ask them how they cook their rice or if they can send photos of the brand of chiles they use. You might need to figure out where you can let the cut of meat marinate, or if there are oven mitts somewhere in the kitchen, but it's a fun way to get closer with both friends and family.

  4. Be a guest on a radio show (or host your own!) - Over the summer, two of my friends had a radio show on WOBC that aired every Saturday morning at 9am. They talked about anything and everything, and played some music in between topics. They would invite friends to be guests on the show, and I happened to be a guest on one of them. Although I personally wouldn’t want to have my own radio show, I had fun being a guest that day and I can understand why people have their own shows for several semesters. Besides, after college, when will I get the same radio opportunities?

    Spray painted wall with the letters WOBC 91.5FM and a door to the right
    The wall by the entrance of 91.5 FM WOBC, the college radio station.
  5. Join a co-op - I’m sure if you’ve read a few of my posts or scrolled through the Oberlin blogs, you’ve read a few posts about the different co-ops at Oberlin Papers with the text "OSCA..." with various responses written such as "is accessibility, community, and friendship!" "The KEY Oberlin Experience!!" and more.and what they entail, so I’ll sum this up quickly. There are different types of co-ops at Oberlin: primarily interest-based, dining-based, and living-based. The interest-based co-ops can help you meet non-student members of the community, and the dining- and living-based co-ops can help reduce the cost of attendance. Obies join co-ops for many different reasons, so join one, even if it’s only for a semester. 

  6. Visit the free store - When I had first heard of the free store, I was a bit confused. When I had first visited the free store, I was also a bit confused. Students donate things that other students might have use for, and other students are able to take those things for free and keep them. Yes, it’s really that simple. The donations to the free store range include things like clothing, shoes, hangers, coffee makers, books, mugs, mirrors, and more. It’s a great way to save some money and help the environment if you need something and it’s available at the free store. I’ve personally sourced 90% of my hangers, a mini fridge, a rolling swivel chair, and some sweaters from the free store.

  7. Give to the free store - I love knowing that things I’m done using still have a life after I’m done using them. Many fabrics, plastics, and metals take years to break down, so the possibility of giving something a second (or even third) life is satisfying. Most of the things I can’t take with me after I graduate will probably go to the free store, so maybe someone reading this will take home my coffee pot, or lamp, or appreciate my favorite swivel chair as much as I do.

  8. Take a trip to the beach/lakefront - I grew up in the desert, so I’m always excited to see bodies of water. There are TONS of rivers and ponds in northeast Ohio, but I still get excited every time I drive past one. Going to the lakefront is something that every Obie should do if they get the opportunity. It’s extremely peaceful at night and you can see so many stars, especially near Sandusky. If you’re driving in the other direction, going to the lakefront in Cleveland is beautiful, especially seeing the city skyline light up as the sun goes down. My only word of advice is to bring a sweater, the lake effect is real!

  9. See the stars at the observatory - The first and only time I’ve seen the stars in the observatory was when I visited Oberlin on my MVP trip my senior year of high school, but it was one of the things that I felt drew me to Oberlin. Not every college has resources like this, so I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to see the stars and other planetary bodies on clear nights. I’m hoping to go a few more times before I graduate.

  10. See an albino squirrel - So the story behind the albino squirrel differs depending on who you ask. Some say seeing one means you’ll graduate in four years, some say it means you’ll graduate in general, and some say you’ll have good luck for the day. A photo of a tree with an albino squirrel sitting in it.Whichever version you believe, it’s generally a positive thing to see an albino squirrel in Oberlin. They’re so well loved that there’s a drink at Slow Train named after them. I didn’t see my first albino squirrel until summer 2021, or the second semester of my second year, but I’ve seen so many since then that I’m confident I’ll graduate within four years.

  11. Pet cats at Ginko - One thing that I didn’t expect before coming to Oberlin is how much people like cats here. Residents and students alike come to the art supply store Ginko Gallery & Studio for obvious reasons such as buying artA black kitten on a person's lap supplies or supporting local artists and buying their work, but many people also come to relax and pet some cats. The cats at Ginko are strays that have been taken in by the organization CATSS (Community Action To Save Strays) so these cats can have their needs taken care of until they are adopted. I wasn’t much of a cat person before Oberlin, but I’ll admit they’ve grown on me.

  12. Participate in the art rental - Even though art rental happens every semester, I have yet to participate in it. I intend to participate in the upcoming semester, but the only thing that holds me back is having to wake up early on a Saturday and not knowing where I would put it in my dorm. I’ve seen my friends rent beautiful pieces from the museum for $5 a semester, and I know I’m missing out. The museum rents pieces from artists like Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and more, and continues to buy new works of art regularly.

  13. Visit the koi pond(s) - The main koi pond is easily my favorite part of campus. It’s tucked in the conservatory courtyard and open to the public. Sometimes I’ll see parents with small children going on a walA photo of the main koi pond at Oberlin with 5 koi fish in view.k and visiting the koi fish, sometimes I’ll see professors or other students just taking a midday break to enjoy the serenity of the pond, and sometimes it’s just me. It’s a nice place to sit and just take a breath amid all the hustle and bustle of regular life, and just watching the fish swim around feels calming. There’s a second place on campus with koi fish that’s a bit more hidden that I love to go to as well. Next to Finney Chapel, there’s a World War II Memorial Garden that has benches, a wall with the names of Oberlin alumni who passed in World War II, and a fountain that houses two koi fish. I tend to come here more often since it’s closer to my dorm and it’s a bit more private. Both are great places for contemplation and to catch your breath.

  14.  Spend a break/holiday on campus - This one sounds a lot less fun than the other things I have on this list, but spending time on campus when there’s a lot less people is nice. My freshman year I couldn’t afford to go home for Thanksgiving, so I stayed here, ate some tamales that my mom had shipped from back home, and just enjoyed my days off. Sometimes flying back and forth can be a bit stressful and make the transition from vacation mindset to academic mindset difficult, so staying on campus for break has its perks. Campus is a lot quieter and more peaceful when there are fewer people on campus, so I’d recommend trying it at least once.

  15. Take an athletics class - Not everyone enjoys working out, but athletics classes are fun and available for credit, which (on top of the health benefits) was enough to get me to sign up for one. I know I feel better and perform better academically when I have my physical health in order, so that was my main reason for registering for an athletics class spring semester of my first year. I have a background in lifting already from being an athlete in high school, but I took Strength Training I to give myself a set time to work out three times a week and review what proper form looks like for different lifts. There are plenty of options like Couch to 10k, Vinyasa Yoga, Bowling I, and others, so there’s something for everyone. It’s a great way to meet new people and practice a skill.

  16. Take an exco - This past semester was the first time I had ever taken an exco. I was registered for two excos for credit: Home ExCo and Navigating White Language Supremacy Co (or WLSCo). The first was essentially a course in adulting where I learned things ranging from taxes, to how to properly cut a tomato or onion, to fire safety, to communication skills and more. The second was about what white language supremacy meant, how it appears in academics and in our daily lives, and how to address it. Both were very different classes but I enjoyed taking both of them and learned a great amount from them. Something about being taught by your peers really helps with feeling engaged in the classroom. The topics taught in excos range from language and culture, to religion, to dance, and much more. Part of me regrets not registering for One Direxco, the exco about One Direction. I plan on taking more before I graduate, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to broaden my horizons in topics I hadn’t previously considered.

  17. Attend a performance at the ‘Sco or the Cat in the Cream - The performance spaces at the ‘Sco and the Cat in the Cream are extremely intimate and that’s why I love them. There are concerts pretty much every week with artists from different parts of the United States like New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, and more. My first concert at Oberlin took place my first weekend as a student, on my birthday, and I saw Dizzy Fae! The experience was telling of what my life at Oberlin could be like for the next four years. The genres that are performed vary, but it’s a fun space for live music once in a while.

  18. Go to Splitchers - Splitchers is the weekly special at the ‘Sco where beers and other drinks are half off. Though only students who are 21+ can buy drinks, it still brings in plenty of students who want to spend their Wednesday night dancing and listening to music with friends as a way to wind down. There’s often themes such as emo night, country night, and others. The best part is, anyone can host a Splitchers night, so if you don’t see a theme you like, you can host your own!

  19. Attend Solarity - I’ve written quite a bit about Solarity, so if you haven’t checked out those posts yet, go ahead. I think those posts by themselves can explain why Solarity is on the Obie Bucket List. We’ve had artists like Kota the Friend, Lizzo, Flo Milli, and more headline at Solarity. To sum it up, where else can you see a free concert in an intimate space where up and coming artists are performing? 

  20. Write for a student publication -  I write for the Oberlin Blogs, but there are so many different student publications at Oberlin. Some are interest or major based such as the Plum Creek Review, while others are cultural or background based such as As I Am. Many of them take different types of submissions such as poetry, short stories, or visual art, so there’s an opportunity to submit what interests you most.

  21. Take a language class - Some people might not be the biggest fan of language classes, especially since classes are held every day for the early levels of a language, but I think they have great value. I personally love learning languages, especially seeing the similarities between them and how it tells the history of interaction between cultures. I’ve taken Japanese 201, 202, and 301 and Arabic 101 at Oberlin, and part of me wants to take a Spanish course so I could improve my grammar. Learning a language at Oberlin helps open up the world (and our minds) a little more, and I would recommend it to anyone that has even the slightest interest. 

That’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll discover new things that belong on the Obie Bucket List in the future, but part of the fun is exploring it on your own and making the Oberlin experience unique to you. Even though Oberlin is a small town, there’s plenty to do–as you can probably tell if you’ve read all the way to this point. I still have a few semesters left, but I know I haven’t seen all there is to see or experience all there is to experience. Northeast Ohio is a beautiful place, and it should be appreciated in all its beauty. I’ve done so many things that were so circumstantial I couldn’t even really put them on this list, but believe me when I say, you make fun wherever you are. 

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