The shimmering San Francisco Bay spread out before me, becoming one with the hazy silhouette of the Oakland hills as my plane took the final turn towards the runway. Walking out of the airport I was greeted by two things that had become almost alien to me--my smiling family and the 80-degree California weather. Our house had that strange nostalgic smell and my old room still had many of my belongings and, aside from the lack of dirty clothes on the floor, felt untouched since I left it.
The place where I was once busy with school, work and friends is now quiet and lethargic. It's a bizarre feeling to be back after the dramatic departure to college at the end of summer--didn't I just leave this place?
I've been at Oberlin for an eventful and exciting half-semester. Now that it's fall break for us, I have a little respite from schoolwork and activities to get some rest and reflect on my start at Oberlin.
Some thoughts and memories that stick out:
The first night when all the first-years in co-ops gathered around a campfire in "the arb" for sing-alongs. ("Rock me momma like a wagon wheel, rock me momma any way you feel, heeeeey")
That time during the first week of school when I came back to my co-op, worn out from a long stretch of studying in the library only to be greeted by warm raisin bread, the Black River Belles band practice on the porch, and happy co-opers.
The numerous times when I come out of class buzzing from the discussion we just had.
Listening to two philosophy majors duke it out in the Keep Co-op lounge about the existence of the coffee table they were sitting in front of.
There's live music everywhere here. Walking around campus: music coming out of dorm windows. Typical Friday night: concert at a student apartment. Afternoon at Keep Co-op: classical or jazz session in the lounge. Eleven-thirty on a Thursday night: Bluegrass jam on the porch. There's no escaping it--music is part of the day-to-day life at Oberlin.
Realizing that I can't say yes to everything. Yep, some concerts, speakers, student organizations and activities, which I would normally love to participate in, must be turned down due to the limitations of the 24-hour day.
Coming from California, the weather is going to take some getting used to. And from what I hear, it only gets worse. My plan of action is to soak up enough vitamin D this week to last me through spring and bring a couple pairs of long underwear back to Oberlin.
I've easily learned as much from other students here as from the professors--that's one of the best parts about going to a school where other students are curious as I am (e.g. I can now play the musical saw with some success).
I don't know how to accurately describe the Oberlin student body with the English language--I propose that a new adjective be created to describe them. It would combine motivated, unique, friendly-but-awkward, eclectic, eccentric, excessively-politically-correct, passionate, open-minded, engaged, spontaneous, crazy, rational, and juglandaceous. Ok maybe not the last one. But whatever this Oberlin adjective is, I've found out during my first half semester that it describes me too.
So while it's great to eat my mom's food, sleep in a queen-size bed, and go outside in a t-shirt and shorts, I am looking forward to taking that final descent towards Cleveland International Airport, eating co-op food once again, and going on a long bike ride through the Ohio countryside.