Oberlin Blogs

Blog Lookback: Second Year, part 1

March 29, 2023

Claire O’Brocta ’23

Back in November, I started a series where I take a look back at the blogs I’ve posted each year and respond to them based on where I am now. But where am I now, exactly? I’m a fifth-year, just over halfway through my final semester at Oberlin. It’s crazy to say that I’m graduating so soon, but according to my old blogs, I also felt like it was crazy that I was no longer a freshman when I started my second year, so it’s not that surprising that I feel this way. Speaking of my second-year blogs, let’s start looking back at them. Maybe it will help me take my mind off of graduating!


Second-Year Blog: The Prequel

Before we get into my actual second year, let’s start with the two blogs I wrote over the summer after my first year had come to a close. My first summer blog was about what my fellow rising sophomores were doing during their first summer break of college, what they missed about Oberlin, and what they were most excited about in the upcoming semester. I interviewed four friends for the blog, and gave my thoughts on each of their responses.

Reading over this blog, it’s not the interviews, but the end, that catches my attention for a reflection. I mentioned that there was “a general consensus among my four wonderful interviewees about missing their college friends and being excited to see them again,” and then I agreed with them, calling being away from friends the “hardest part of summer break.” Oh, if only I knew. The following summer was much harder; my non-conservatory friends and I had to go nearly eleven straight months without seeing each other due to early pandemic disruptions. Now, most of them have graduated and there is no new semester to all come back to anymore. My advice here is definitely to enjoy being with your college friends when you can. Being apart for summer breaks, unexpected world events, and graduation separation are all so challenging. I honestly need to take this advice myself, and spend more time with my friends who still go here before I graduate too. Classes and everything are great, but the friends you make are hands down one of the best parts of college. 

Another related thing I want to point out from that blog is that many of us were so excited to meet the new Oberlin students starting in the fall. I was surprised as a first-year how many friends I made outside my class year, and as someone who has now experienced being a first, second, third, fourth, and fifth year, I can confidently say it rings true throughout college. Some of my best friends here now are current sophomores and juniors! Being a fifth-year, I’ve had classes and extracurriculars with students who came to this school in 2014, students who will graduate in 2027, and everyone in between. In addition to great new friendships, getting to know people from older years can allow you to learn about what Oberlin was like before you got here (these blogs are also great for that, if I do say so myself), and friends who stay here longer can keep you updated on what it will be like after you graduate. I text updates to my graduated friends all the time, and I know I’ll be reaching out to my younger friends next year to see what’s changed.


(actual) Second-Year Blog #1:

The second blog I wrote the summer between my first and second years was about chicken tenders. The last blog I wrote my second year was also about chicken tenders. Because of that, I’m going to wait until the end of my second-year posts to do one final mega-reflection on chicken. For now, let’s get into the first blog of my actual second year, which I called “Changes.” This is the entry that I referenced at the beginning of this blog, where I mentioned I was still getting used to calling myself something other than a freshman. I was also getting used to all of the other parts of Oberlin life that were different from the year before, leading me to write about all the things that changed.

If you think about it, this lookback series is an even further into the future version of the now three and a half-year-old Changes blog. In fact, I started that blog by talking about my new dorm and co-op, which are both topics I wrote about in blogs my first year, and therefore already reflected on. Second year is an interesting point in my college journey to read about; there was already so much to reflect on at the time, but there was even more that foreshadowed the future. Later in the Changes blog, I mentioned taking my first studio class, and how much I loved the improvisation exercises we did. That was my first foray into music improvisation at Oberlin, and now I’m minoring in it! Definitely a huge foreshadowing moment. Another change from that blog was my longtime internet friend and concert buddy Sarah starting at Oberlin a year after I did. Though the pandemic slowed down our off-campus concert adventures, we still make time to hang out in our busy schedules. In fact, Sarah just came over the other day! We listened to the new 100gecs album, and talked about the ways we’re preparing for life after we graduate together this May.


Second-Year Blog #2:

Talking about Sarah is the perfect transition into the next blog of my second year, which was about Fall Break. In that blog, I went over the ways in which I made the most out of my week off, which included staying on campus for a few days, traveling to Columbus and Cincinnati with Sarah, and wrapping things up by visiting my parents. 

Fast forward to today, it’s the end of March 2023, and I just finished Spring Break. This break was my final week off in college! Unlike fall 2019, I didn’t go on any fun adventures to concerts, but I did spend part of my week here in Oberlin, and part of it visiting family in my hometown. I agree with my second-year self in the sense that seeing my dog is one of the highlights about visiting family over break. Unfortunately the dog pictured in my second-year blog has passed away, but my family’s new puppy, Ginger the goldendoodle, has been the best source of entertainment and cuddles during my last few school breaks. I also still agree that being reunited with the TIMARA studios is one of the best parts about coming back to campus when break ends. In fact, I spent some time there today, playing synthesizers with some friends after my last class ended.

I like how I talked about activities of all sizes in my Fall Break blog, everything from big off-campus adventures to small things like sitting under a tree in Tappan. Oftentimes those small things have been some of my favorite parts about going to Oberlin, especially sitting under Tappan trees. Last summer when I worked at the Conservatory, I spent most of my lunch breaks under the Tappan trees, and I looked forward to it every day. I’ve had tree time in other ways in my Oberlin days too. Another classic favorite is the Arb south of campus, which I’ve gone on many walks through over the years, both alone and with friends. Now I’m just looking forward to the weather getting warm (and dry) enough for me to have some more tree time! I won’t be able to see the pretty fall colors of Oberlin again like I did in my Fall Break blog (unless I come back for a visit), but the flowering trees should be blooming in Tappan soon, and those are equally beautiful.


I wrote a lot of blogs my second year, so I’m going to split this reflection into parts. I’ll be back with year 2 part 2 soon, but until then, here’s a picture of Ginger from Spring Break!

A goldendoodle with curly white fur, sitting and looking at the camera. A few dog toys lie next to her on the floor.
Ginger the goldendoodle


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