Sophomore year is over. At Last.
This past semester was, hands down, my hardest semester at Oberlin. I had been depressed, slumped, and nihilistic; I felt trapped, and I absolutely couldn't wait to finally get out of Oberlin, and get to my exciting summer and fall 2017 plans.
See, for my summer, I'm just going to pursue movement arts. For the first three weeks, I'm going to go to New York, live with Ben (an Oberlin alum now into stunts and acrobatic performance) and others, and train my tricking and tumbling all day, every day at the Brooklyn Zoo.
For the next six weeks, I'm going to attend the American Dance Festival, and take six hours of dance classes every day of the week.
And finally, for next fall semester, I'm going to Budapest to study Computer Science.
If those plans all sound sparse on the details, that's because they are. Even now, I've done just the barest amount of planning to make them actually happen; during the last few months, they've felt like little more than dreams, and it was hard to imagine actually going and doing all of that.
And now? Well... I'm actually going and doing all of that.
I'm finally done with sophomore year.
An Uncertain Finish.
Finals and Commencement just felt weird this year. Rather than the exciting fever and fervour of the end of freshman year, sophomore year just kind of... stopped. Without observance, my relatively easy finals were over, and the extra Commencement week just breezed right on by.
Alumni moved into the dorms, parents came to town, and the college became the place that you see on all the brochures. Smiling faces, beautiful sunshine (mostly...), a thriving and crowded downtown, and more events and performances than you can count. It's the best Oberlin ever gets, and it's true that I did have a good time.
I returned to Swing and Blues on Friday night, performed with Koreo on Saturday, and then had the main event and absolute highlight of my week (and my biggest reason for staying) on Sunday - The OCircus Show.
At The Observatory, Teddy Ment
Finding your friends, Max Reinisch, Linnea Kirby
Finding your Co-op, Anika Lindsey
Juggling College Life, Teague Harvey
Super Smash Brothers, Teague Harvey, Max Reinisch, Paul Lawrence
Final Bows, Circus Style
(Photo credits Justine Gonzales)
And with that, it was finally Sunday night. Illumination. My favourite Oberlin event ever.
I might have had a relative misfire of a Commencement week, but that was ok; this was the event that I had been really waiting for.
Basically, every Sunday night before the seniors graduate, Oberlin celebrates with outdoor performances, pie, and a whole bunch of lanterns in Tappan Square. During freshman year, I had no idea what it was, and ended up being absolutely blown away by its vibrant energy.
This year, however, it was supposed to rain - so they moved it to the tent in Wilder Bowl. It didn't even compare. I was devastated.
Illumination is Commencement, and without those lanterns throughout Tappan I was feeling a restless lack of closure.
It didn't feel right.
Unlike last year, I got to watch the ceremony. I listened to some very long speeches, watched as the graduates collected their very expensive sheets of paper, and waved as they filed out for smiling photos with their families.
And just like that, Commencement was done.
On Monday night, I said some final goodbyes, and on Tuesday morning, I got in a car for New York.
Sophomore year is over. Somehow.
Someone older and wiser once told me, 'going abroad is like saying your first real goodbye to Oberlin. Sure, you come back, but you're gone long enough to put your time there in perspective, and reflect on the brevity of your college career.' (artistic license liberally used)
This past semester may have been my hardest semester at Oberlin.
But still, there were a lot of things that I truly loved about this semester; things that profoundly invigorated my life, made me feel present in the moment, and held me together when I felt like I was falling apart.
Above all, I think I started to learn what really matters to me, and I learned to start practising gratefulness.
And so (in no particular order) here are some of the things I'll miss at Oberlin:
- The big, beautiful Hales Gym, forever and always my home training gym.
Photo reused from this blog.
- The warm, welcoming Warner Main Space, with its alluring wooden floors, air of creativity, and sense of peace that I can't find anywhere else on campus. I'll miss all my dance classes and performances that I got to be a part of here, particularly the Student Dance Showcase.
- Tappan Square, and the vibrant colors of Oberlin in fall. I guess I'll only get to experience that one more time, my fall of senior year. Wow.
Photo reused from this blog.
- The Oberlin Capoeira Community. It was new to me this semester through taking the class, but I fell in love, and even took part in the Commencement roda. With a combination of acrobatics, music, and dance, it's right up my alley.
- Of course, I'll miss the heart and soul of my Oberlin - Tumbling Club, and all the silly shenanigans that we get up to.
- Having great relationships with my professors; Roberto, Alysia, Nusha, Bob, to name a few - professors that engage me in the classroom, and then ask me to come to their home and help them move their piano. These professors really made me love my classes, and in particular, I'm really going to miss Algorithms with Bob, my favourite academic class I've ever taken in my life.
He took class OUTSIDE when the weather was nice in February. Look at us CS nerds burning in the sunlight.
Believe it or not, this was a really neat proof. Understanding this diagram made me feel smart, which seems to happen less and less the older I get...
- And finally, I'm going to miss all the people that make Oberlin Oberlin. Beyond meaningful friendships, I'm going to miss having a community of people around me driven to make beautiful performance art, committed to excel in all that they do, and compelled to challenge, change, and create in the world around them.
There have been times in this past year that I've felt that community energy lacking; but it's always there, just broiling under the surface - if you have the energy to find it.
With all that being said - if I didn't get permission to study away this fall semester, I might have just taken the semester off anyway. I need a break from Oberlin.
But who knows what I would have done? I hate hypotheticals. I believe that we can either be stuck in the past - the 'what ifs' and the nostalgia - or we can look ahead.
I know that it should feel like I'm at some pretty important Crossroads. Whatever coping strategies I develop, where I place my values, and the things that I invest in now will have a great effect on my future, and who I become. I know that a year ago, that uncertainty and instability would probably have intoxicated me.
But you know what? Give me those two roads in a yellow wood already, and I know how I'll choose my path.
I'm deciding to spend my time doing things that I love, and with that, I know that everything will work itself out.
Peace out, Oberlin. I'll see you in eight months.