Oberlin Blogs

City Kid Thrives in Ohio

October 30, 2019

Ish Houle ’23

For all 18 years of my life until now, I lived in the same house on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. I had my great city in front of me, and never knew anything other than it. When I went into the college process, I knew I wanted to change my environment from where I grew up. I’ve usually thought I’ll be living in a city for my adult life, so I walked into looking for a school that would be a good fit knowing that I was looking for a change of pace. When I found Oberlin, I thought to myself “When else in my life am I going to have the opportunity to live in Ohio?!” I had never even been to Ohio before I started the college search, and the longest I had spent away from a city was 2 months each summer working on an island in New Hampshire. There was something charming, intriguing, and compelling that drew me to the Buckeye State, and I excitedly decided to attend Oberlin. 

I knew I was swapping out traffic-crazed streets for beautifully clear and less chaotic streets, DC’s jam-packed-with-tourists Smithsonian museums for the Allen Memorial Art Museum, downtown for cornfields. I was so excited to see what life was going to be like; I was excited for all the change. But I knew that I didn't know what I don’t know, and a small part of me was pretty nervous for when I would encounter what I didn’t know.

Admittedly, I had one big moment of stress where I realized I might have bitten off more than I could chew transitioning from a metropolitan area to rural Ohio. I was at a dance party night in DC, “90s Music Night,” and was dancing with friends having the time of my life. In the middle of my night, jamming to Nirvana and *NSYNC, I thought for a second about how much fun I was having and was scared I wouldn’t be going to concerts like this for my years at college. I could never find anything that resembled DC’s famed concert venue the “9:30 Club” in Oberlin, OH! I shook it off, assuaging myself that change was good and necessary and that I was going to be just fine. 

On my 6-hour drive to Oberlin, I did a lot of nature appreciation. I looked at cows and horses, power lines stretching into the horizon, with the midday sun illuminating everything and making the small highways of America glow. When we got to Ohio, I saw the endless expanses of cornfields and I knew I made a great decision to shake up my living environment. I kept seeing more and more plus-sides: lower light pollution = more stars, I don’t have to fear for my life when biking on the road, there would be numerous beautiful ponds near campus for me to finally learn how to skip rocks! 

However, I still had that “90s Night” gnaw in my stomach. I thought I wouldn’t have the experience I had in DC again, and I would have to wait for breaks to have that back. That feeling remained until one day before classes started, and I was walking through the basement of Wilder, our Student Union, with some friends. I passed for the first time our dance club, “the ‘Sco.” Later, I learned that the ‘Sco is constantly hosting great events, artists, student DJs, and more. I was rushing when I first walked past it, but something caught my eye and I abruptly stopped in my tracks. In colorful, bubbled chalk writing, I saw an event advertised for the next week: “90s Night at the ‘Sco!”

I audibly let out my breath and smiled. I was going to be just fine. 

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