I’m a second-year now! I’ve been back on campus for a month, introduced myself as such about a thousand times, and it’s still a weird thing to say. Luckily, I’m finally starting to get used to it. It surprised me how much there still was to get used to here (other than the new “second-year” title, of course), after having a full year of experience under my belt. The surroundings, for the most part, are the same as they were last spring, and many of the people are too. Even so, there were so many changes, some of which I’m very excited about (and yes, I made a list!).
The first big change is that I’m living in a new dorm! As I mentioned in my blog about my first-year dorm, I have a single in Noah this semester, and I love it just as much as I thought I would. Having lived in a double before (where I had to live and make decisions with someone else), it was fun to be able to decorate and arrange everything exactly as I wanted it, and it’s so nice to have a space that’s just mine.
A lot of my fellow second-year friends made the transition from double to single life this year too, and those who I’ve talked to have felt the same way. The main disadvantage of living in a single this year is that I don’t get to see my former roommate (a very good friend of mine) very often anymore. I also haven’t experienced as strong of a sense of community here as I did in my first-year dorm, but I figured that would happen going in. The strong sense of community from my dorm last year is hard to beat!
Overall though, the advantages of living in Noah far outweigh the disadvantages of no longer living in the lovely Kahn. I’m a two-minute walk from my 8 am class in the Science Center (which greatly reduces the negative aspects of such an early class), right across the street from the gym, surrounded by beautiful trees, and not too far away from my co-op, which brings me to my next change …
I’m in a new co-op this year as well!
Last year I was in Fairkid, a dining-only co-op on South Campus. I’ve transitioned into Keep, which provides both housing and dining, and is located on North Campus. Wait, didn’t I just say I lived in Noah? Why am I all of a sudden talking about being in a housing co-op? Well, that is another great advantage of being a second-year! Unlike first-years, who have to live in a housing co-op if they dine there, higher year students can be dining-only members if they prefer. My switch to Keep wasn’t completely intentional; I actually put Fairkid as my first choice on the co-op lottery form. When I didn’t get placed there, I had the option to get on the waitlist but decided against it.
Even though I enjoyed my time in Fairkid, I figured I’d take the opportunity to try something new, and I’m so glad I did! The food in Keep is delicious (and usually well seasoned, which is very important in my opinion), and the environment is refreshing. In contrast to the cafeteria-style round tables in Fairkid, Keep’s dining area is more like a living room. The living room style means that people eat their meals while sitting on couches, living chairs, the stairs, and even the floor. My favorite place to sit in Keep, however, is out on the porch. The weather has been so nice for meals, and it’s early enough in the season that the sun still sets after dinner, so I’m taking advantage of it while I can and eating outside as much as possible. (The fact that we have a porch swing doesn’t hurt either.)
A non-food-related advantage of Keep is that it is the location of the Bike Co-Op! I admit I don't know too much about the Bike Co-Op, but I do know that it's unaffiliated with Keep's housing and dining, it's open to all members of the Oberlin community, and there are people there who can help you fix your bike. Speaking of which, I brought a bike with me to campus this semester that is currently not in riding condition, and although I haven't stopped by yet, I know the Bike Co-Op is there in a convenient place when I want to use it.
While dorms and co-ops were somewhat related, my next change is in a completely different realm: music. Specifically, my TIMARA studio class! While most majors in the conservatory start studio class in the first year, TIMARA majors don’t start until our second. This makes studio class a brand-new thing for me!
So far in TIMARA studio class, my favorite activity has been group improvisation, which we did last week. Among the six of us in the class (plus my professor and his beautiful, fluffy golden retriever), we had a decent mix of traditional instruments and other fun things that made sound. When we improvised, we turned the lights off and made sounds with our items and bodies based on different words and concepts (my favorite concept was a pool table on a train!). The dog even got in on the fun, ripping up some paper with my professor! I used my bass guitar for the activity, and since that’s a traditional instrument, I felt challenged to play it in non-traditional ways, which was so much fun. The best part is that’s just a small snippet of the possibilities that class holds! I’ll hopefully make a longer blog about studio class in the future, once I get more than just a taste of what it’s like.
The excitement of my studio class extends to my other classes as well. Other than TIMARA studio, though, my classes in the conservatory haven’t changed much from my first year. The lack of change here is mostly because both first- and second-years in the Con need to take music theory and aural skills. The TIMARA core class sequence extends two years as well, so I’m on my third semester (of four!) in all three of those categories. My classes in the college, however, are completely different than last year.
I’m a double-degree, so in addition to TIMARA, I have to choose a major in the college. When I started my first year, I had an idea of what I wanted that college major to be, but like many of my friends, I completely changed my mind. This struggle is something I want to blog about separately in the future, so I’ll leave it at that for now. I will say though that I am greatly enjoying both classes I’m taking in the college, and I can’t wait to talk about them later.
A huge change that I haven’t talked about yet concerns the people here in Oberlin. Particularly, we have a whole new class of Obies on campus. I’ve met so many wonderful first-years in places such as my dorm, co-op, classes, and even at Tendies Night (shout out to the first-years who were inspired to go to Tendies Night because of my blog). There’s one first-year in particular that I didn’t meet in any of those places, though, and that’s because I’ve known her for three years! I met my friend Sarah through a Twitter group chat in 2016, and since we lived far away from each other, we had only met up in person a handful of times. Now that we both go to Oberlin, though, we can see each other a lot, which is so exciting. We even managed to go on a trip together to see more of our friends from Twitter, bringing me to my final point …
One change that I’m deliberately trying to make this year is getting off campus more on the weekends, whether it’s a group trip through the college, with friends, or alone (which is hard to do considering my lack of a car). So far, I’ve been pretty successful. The first two excursions I had this semester were to Cedar Point in Sandusky and Edgewater Beach in Cleveland, both because of bus trips sponsored by college organizations.
Trips like these are one of my favorite types of activities provided by Oberlin. They’re often free or reduced cost, sign up is easy (typically through a Google form), and they’re an easy way to go somewhere new or fun without having to find your own transportation. Finding your own ride is certainly possible, though. Remember the trip I mentioned with my friend Sarah? A couple of weeks ago, we met up with our Twitter friends at a poetry, music, and art festival in Columbus, Ohio, which is two hours south of Oberlin. Neither of us had a car, so we reached out to a Facebook group of helpful Oberlin students who are willing to drive people places! For the trip there, we found a ride to the Cleveland Greyhound station, and took a bus from there to Columbus.
To get back to campus, we hitched a ride directly from Columbus back to Oberlin, thanks to a particularly helpful Obie who also happened to be in the city that weekend. One of my favorite things about Oberlin students is how willing we are to help each other out, which is demonstrated perfectly by the people from the Facebook group.
That’s it for the big changes from the first month of my second year, but I’m hoping there’s a lot more change to come (such as finally having a functioning bike with me on campus). Considering there are still eight more months until the year is over, I’m sure there will be. Even after that, I still have three more years to go at Oberlin, so who knows what will come about. No matter what ends up happening, though, I’ll probably end up blogging about it.