Oberlin Blogs

Crafting a Community

November 8, 2022

Kate Magnacca ’26

While packing for college, one of the last things I packed (and the first thing I unpacked upon arrival) was, strangely enough, a crocheted squirrel named Leslie. Some context here--I applied to Oberlin early decision last year because it was my dream school. Once I got in, my senior year was spent impatiently counting down the seconds until move-in day. Yet by the time summer came, all of that joy and excitement had inexplicably morphed into an ominous cloud of anxiety and doubt. I was in an absolute panic about college, I no longer felt ready to leave my community, and most of all, I was terrified of making new friends. And when I get anxious, I tend to crochet. So naturally, I crocheted a LOT this summer. Now here’s where the squirrel comes in. 

Photo of crocheted albino squirrel.
This is the squirrel my friend made!

As the end of summer (and what felt like my impending doom) approached, I crocheted everywhere I went. Someone saw me crocheting during a rehearsal and asked me to teach them, which led to what is now one of the most important friendships in my life. The last time we saw each other before I moved, this friend surprised me with, you guessed it, Leslie the squirrel! They crocheted an albino squirrel (Oberlin’s mascot) for me, who now resides in my dorm room. Whenever I start to feel homesick, alone, or anxious, I have this little tangible, comforting reminder of home to return to. The first week here, while talking to some people in my hall about our favorite things in our dorms, the squirrel came up and started a conversation about crochet. Before I knew it we had a group chat and plans to meet, and we formed a little craft group. People added their friends and it just grew from there--I may have accidentally started an informal club (love). We’ve met a couple of times now, and I already look forward to it a lot. I love to watch how everyone helps each other learn and problem-solves on projects together. It’s been a great way to relax and meet new people amid the stress of the first semester in college.

I also ended up finding a local yarn shop called For Ewe to volunteer at where I have met incredibly kind and welcoming members of the Oberlin town and college. My first day volunteering there, I met four alumni and a professor. Every time I meet someone here, they are so overjoyed to welcome another person into the community, and so generous in offering support and advice. Their love for this place is palpable. I have seen again and again how warm and tight-knit (pun intended) the community is here.

My point is this--Oberlin is a place with a niche for everyone. These first couple of months haven’t been easy by any means. My experience with starting college has been completely incongruous with my previous idealistic expectation of a perfect new life. But just when I thought I wouldn’t find a community here, a group of us created one of our own, and I found a place to meet people and get involved outside the college. Through a random side hobby I’ve already met so many amazing people here. My impression of Oberlin has always been one of uniqueness and togetherness, and living here has not changed that, it’s reinforced it. For any prospective students reading this, you can and will find a home here, perhaps in ways you don’t expect. There truly is no place like Oberlin.

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