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October 14, 2012

Tess Yanisch ’13

My dear readers:

This is not a regular blog post. This is a chance for you to talk to me!

Recently I've had a couple people tell me that they read my blog as prospies (actually, they each mentioned the Sci-Fi Hall one in particular) and that it did its job--convinced them to come to Oberlin. This made me very happy.

I love hearing from people who read my blog. (It's the only way I know people actually do, for one thing!) So I'm leaving this post open to you. Drop me a comment! I get e-mailed every time anyone does and I usually reply, so this would be a good opportunity for you to ask any questions or give me any suggestions you might have.

This is open to anyone--prospective students, prospective students' parents, alumni, even current students. If there's something you think I should write about, let me know. If you have any questions about life at Oberlin (or psychology, or Doctor Who, or herding kittens . . . anything, really), feel free to ask me. If you think I should write my posts as sonnets from now on, make that suggestion. And so on.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Responses to this Entry

What do students do on the weekend at Oberlin? And are most students from Ohio/the Midwest?

Posted by: Ryan on October 14, 2012 5:01 PM

Hi, Ryan!

Oberlin draws from all over the country--I think the two largest feeder states are California and New York, specifically the Bay Area and NYC. There are lots of people from the coasts here--well over half. And, of course, there are a good number of international students. According to this official webpage, only 9% come from Ohio, although 21% come from the Midwest total.

What do students do on the weekends? Well--everything! There are always five zillion things happening in the evenings--Conservatory shows, student bands (everything from folk to metal), visiting singers or poets or lecturers, student comedy shows, movie nights, D&D campaigns, or, in some cases, participate in live-voice-over playthroughs of pigeon dating sim games (Sci-Fi Hall has an odd sense of humor; so does Japan). On the first Friday of every month, there is a contra dance--a lively, low-pressure line dance (lessons start half an hour before the dance proper, but you can pick it up quickly without them). During the day, people study, go to brunch at the Feve, sleep, watch Community with people, have D&D campaigns... We do in fact have sports, so some people do those and some people go to them.

Here are my last two weekends, pieced together from my memory, journal, and calendar.
Last weekend
FRIDAY EVENING: Go to Homestuck party from 6:12 (a significant time for Homestuck fans...long story) until 7:45; run get changed; go to Contra in Hales gym and dance two or three dances; at 9:00, run through the building to the Cat in the Cream for the OBehave improv show, which was hilarious; go back to Sci-Fi Hall at 10:30 to watch Gurren Lagann, the anime that has become known as "Sci-Fi Hall Basic Training."
SATURDAY: Go to Farmers' Market in the morning; do homework; go for a walk; go to a show in The Cat In The Cream with a friend.
SUNDAY: Take the day off. Go to brunch hosted by Burton RAs. See Hotel Transylvania and play with kittens at Ginko Gallery with a friend. Nice long walk. Finished a book.

This weekend
FRIDAY NIGHT: Study for Psychology GRE subject test. Watch an episode of a cartoon called Gravity Falls with a friend who thinks I'm studying too hard. Bed early.
SATURDAY: Take GRE Psychology subject test. Lunch. Lab meeting for a class. Walk, homework, etc. In the evening, I saw Thrill Me: The Leopold and Loeb Story, a musical about the circumstances surrounding a murder that actually took place in the 1920's. It's about two upper-class teenagers, one of whom is obsessed with the other, who in turn is obsessed with Nietzsche and is probably a psychopath. It was disturbing, but extremely well done. I knew some of the people involved and they did a great job.
SUNDAY (TODAY): Breakfast. Read (homework). Lunch. Take out compost, because I'm one of the Compost Captains for my dorm. Go play with kittens and go to the library. Since it's nice out, climb a tree and read in it. Call home. Do homework. That brings us up to now.

Every weekend posters go up announcing "What's happening this weekend." This appears to be the online version. Also, here's a link to the events calendar. This is very partial, however--it leaves off less formal things or events people forgot to publicize that way.

Also, I know there are parties sometimes. I'm the kind of person who rarely if ever hears about them by virtue of my Shield of Wholesome Obliviousness. I'm an introvert--my idea of "party" is "group of four to eight people playing board games and watching movies," not "mob of people dancing to loud music." I'd have fun with that for about twenty minutes, then hit my saturation point. But if that's your thing, it exists.

Does that answer your questions?

Posted by: Tess on October 14, 2012 6:21 PM

Dear Tess,

Why are you so cool? (This is not a rhetorical question, I expect at least three paragraphs describing all your excellent elements in response.)

Or another set of questions, if you'd rather answer these:

- What made you want to write for the Oberlin blogs in the first place?

- You've been blogging for such a long time (yay veteran bloggers!): what's your favorite part of the job, and what is your favorite post?


Posted by: Ma'ayan on October 15, 2012 8:42 AM

What is one lesson you will take away from your Oberlin education? I know that is sort of a terribly huge question, but I've been making a list of broad lessons I learned/ am learning from my Oberlin education, and I'd be interested to hear your reflections on the matter.

Posted by: Nora on October 15, 2012 10:56 AM


I heard about the Oberlin blogs either from the job listings on the Oberlin Classifieds page or from my mom looking at the Oberlin Classifieds page--I don't recall which. I do remember thinking that it would be really fun. I kept a journal already, so I was used to writing about my life. I enjoyed writing and was realizing that my favorite kind of nonfiction was the personal essay, especially comic ones like Dave Barry's humor columns (they count!).

But basically, my overriding thought was "I could get paid for writing? I could get paid for writing? Like a writer>!?"

At that point, I was still considering being an English major and writing fiction for a living (still might do that on the side). I had recently submitted something to Spiral, the genre fiction magazine on campus, and gotten it published, and I was occasionally doing reporting for The Oberlin Review. I'd had fiction published in print; I'd had non-fiction published in print; if I could also write, even online, and get paid for it, if people valued my writing enough to actually give me money for what I created--that was the big leagues. It meant I was a Writer, an almost-professional one. It was almost too good to be true.

I still feel that way, honestly; I get paid for writing often-silly vignettes or rambling stories about my life. How lucky is that?!

I guess that, in a way, answers the second question. I like to talk/write about my life and I find it sort of unbelievable that so many people seem to want to hear/read about it.

My favorite part, though, is when they talk/write back and I get a discussion going. I really like it when people comment on the posts, especially prospective students (hence this post, created especially for that purpose). People have recommended books to me or applauded my choice of nerdy t-shirts. I've had a few people e-mail me with questions or comments, which was great. One time I had an alum contact me and ask if I could find her housing for commencement week!

I wish people commented on each other's comments more. That can be really fun.

I don't know if I have a favorite post. There are some that were particularly fun to write, like the Homestuck parody and the My Little Pony April Fools' Day post. There are ones about things I really enjoyed doing, like my visit to New York and the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear and the crazy-busy part of my sophomore year. Then there are useful posts and ones where I talk about important things. For "favorite" I'd probably have to re-read everything and pick the one that I feel was best-written. It may very well be one of the above.

Try things! If you want to write for the paper, act in a show, play a sport, be in Circus, have a job, take a class, talk to that person down the hall with the Firefly poster on their door, be a research assistant, plan an event, take trombone lessons, learn to juggle--there's a way to do it, you just need to reach out. Don't wait too long before doing it, and don't be too cautious. You are not committed to anything for life, remember: you can drop a class, leave a club, hang out with different people once in a while, if you want to try something else. No one will think the less of you.

This applies to people, too. The best part of my Oberlin experience, and what I have learned the most from, rests in the interactions I've had with people, in and out of class, professors, students, or citizens of the town. Learning how to interact with people, how to read them, how to give people what they need but make it clear what you need, how to communicate clearly why you feel the way you do, how to tactfully point out others' blind spots and how to identify your own--these are things you pick up from having serious discussions with people. College is a great place to have these serious discussions (over silly things as well as major issues), but you often won't have them unless you trust the people you're talking with and raise the issue yourself.

Posted by: Tess on October 15, 2012 11:57 AM

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