A Day in the Life at Oberlin
April 20, 2014
Brendan Nuse ’17 and Frances Casey ’17
Back when I was still barraged by an endless stream of college mail, there was one kind of mail that I liked the best - the kind written by students. Often this was in the form of interviews, but I distinctly remember getting mail from more than one school in which students gave a schedule of what they did on an allegedly typical day along with descriptions of the activities themselves. In my effort to become an idealized college student in a brochure, I decided this would be a good idea for a blog post.
So here's my allegedly typical day - I admit that there were a few atypical things about this day, but this was a fun day so I decided to do it. Also, since I came up with this idea over a week ago, this day is a little outdated, so the details are fuzzy, but I'll do my best to describe it - just keep in mind the "allegedly" part of "allegedly typical day."
8:30am: Get up
I have an alarm clock that beeps pretty loudly, but doesn't seem to wake up my roommate, which is weird because his alarm is a radio broadcast that is pretty quiet. Anyway, after turning off my alarm I go to the E-system bathroom across the hall and take a shower, then get dressed and leave the dorm. I hope the descriptions of this day get more entertaining as they go along because I don't even know why I typed this paragraph.
9:05am: Get to breakfast at Dascomb
We'll probably have a post about dining later, but I'll say a little here too. I try to get breakfast most days (though meals are an especially sensitive topic on campus at the moment), and I prefer Dascomb for breakfast, though many of my friends eat at the Science Cart. I like Dascomb better because the food is less processed and they aren't as strict about what you can count as a meal, but the Science Cart is quicker, so some people prefer it.
9:30-10:50am: ECON101: Principles of Economics
I actually have this class with Frances! The class probably started a few minutes late, because, frustratingly, most people in this class get to class late (this is not the case with most classes at Oberlin). Our class only has about 15 people, which is odd for an intro econ class, but I like it. Economics is super interesting, so I usually enjoy this class a lot. For some reason I've been having breakdowns about animal rights during this class recently, which not only makes no sense, but also kind of detracts from my class experience. I promise I was crazy before I came to Oberlin...it's me, not the school.
11-11:50am: CHIN202: Intermediate Chinese II
This class is great. I've had three Chinese professors so far at Oberlin, and I love all of them. Anyway, I specifically remember the class this day, because it was a rollercoaster ride. We were supposed to go around and share something that we learned about China today from talking to a Chinese international student here at Oberlin. Things were going normally until I had to go. I asked if it was true that barber shops in China doubled as brothels, and apparently many of them do. That was interesting. Then, one of my classmates said something about Tibet, which is apparently an issue that my professor is very passionate about, as he went on a 10 minute long rant in Chinese that we couldn't understand. Then he asked if anyone else had anything, and another student said that she found out that dumplings started having meat in them after the structural reform period. Yeah, it was a pretty wild class. Count that as an atypical thing in this allegedly typical day.
12pm: Go to lunch at Stevie
Some people think Stevenson's (we call it Stevie) food gets monotonous. I will fight those people to the death.
12:40pm: Walk to high school
I do work with the Environmental Dashboard that would take me more than a whole blog post to explain, since I don't really understand it myself (I usually just tell people that I "do research with a professor"). Anyway, for some reason on this day I was going to Oberlin High School to visit a classroom and write down quotes about the environment and the Dashboard. Unfortunately, I had never been to the high school before, so I got lost, and it was raining, so this walk wasn't a very pleasant experience. I still managed to get there early, and ended up asking someone where the bathroom was while I was standing directly in front of it. Yeah, I was awkward before I came to Oberlin, too.
1:20pm: Take down notes in high school math class
I think it's really cool how many opportunities there are to work in the community here at Oberlin. I was happy to meet high school students in the community, since that was not an experience I expected to have when coming to Oberlin. There are a lot of other ways you can get involved with the schools here. Lots of students tutor students, or participate in the SITES (Spanish in the Elementary Schools) program. Hooray for community!
2:20pm: Get back to Barrows. Do homework.
The amount of homework I got done at this time is questionable, as I was probably pretty tired and also probably got distracted thinking about what classes I should take next semester.
3:15pm: Choir dress rehearsal
I would normally have a class at this time, but I had a dress rehearsal for a choir concert. Don't worry, this is the only time I've had to miss a class for another activity. Anyway, we had a concert the weekend before last. We played with the chamber orchestra, and there were some upperclassmen voice majors who served as soloists. It's always great getting to do music with conservatory students!
5pm: Dinner at Stevie
I always go to dinner at 5 P.M. I think one of the best parts of college is getting to decide when and what you want to eat.
7:30pm: POLT212: Political Economy of Development in Asia makeup class
So I had to miss this class earlier in the day for choir, but luckily this happened to be the day that we had two classes in order to make up for one that our professor cancelled because he was in China (I think that's a pretty good excuse to cancel class). Anyway, this class is pretty intimidating because a lot of the other students are upperclassmen Politics and/or East Asian Studies majors who like to casually drop into conversation that they have first-hand experience in China. The intimidation doesn't really detract from the class, though, as it's a pretty cool topic. Anyway, I remember being frustrated that this class ended 18 minutes late when it was already late at night, but otherwise I think the class went well. We were learning about Japan's development...did you know that the Japanese government told companies what they were allowed to produce, set the prices, and gave them all the resources they needed so that the only things that companies could compete on was quality? That's why Japanese cars are so great. Genius.
9:05pm: Get back to Barrows
Time for homework!
9:30pm: Get to Mudd, do homework
The 4th floor of Mudd is my favorite study spot. That should be another future blog post. Anyway, Thursdays are relatively light on homework for me, except that I have Chinese quizzes on Fridays, so I have to study for those. I probably wasted a lot of time looking at the Oberlin Confessions page and/or defending Frozen on the internet.
1am: Get back to Barrows, go to bed
Thank god for sleep. Great way to end (and start) a day!
Even though it snowed earlier this week, spring may have finally arrived in Oberlin. Am I happy about it? Let's just say I'm cautious. Am I terrified of the earthworms that are practically the size of small snakes that keep appearing outside Barrows? Absolutely. Am I still hopeful that spring will arrive, this time permanently? Barely.
In the midst of this weather, I am reeling from the speed at which my first year at Oberlin has flown by. It's crazy to think about how removed I am from the admissions process--seeing prospies traipse by on All Roads days serves as a reminder of where I was a year ago, and how far I've come since I first arrived at Oberlin, at least in terms of familiarity. When you tour any college, a ton of information is thrown at you about basically every department, program, and extracurricular activity it has to offer. Because of this, it can be difficult to ascertain what a typical day is like for an Oberlin student. Brendan and I have decided to give y'all interested in Oberlin a run-down on what a typical day would be like for us
It's Monday. This probably means that I stayed up really late on Sunday night, where my homework tends to pile up higher than usual. I'm never a morning person, but Mondays are when I'm least likely to rise at dawn and go for a brisk five-mile jog (I'm not sure what type of day it would take to make me do that). I usually drag myself out of bed at some point in the mid-morning. Because of the ridiculous unreliability of Ohio weather, I always look out my window and try to ascertain the temperature by looking at what the people walking by are wearing. This has provided mixed results in the past.
I then head to my 11:00 class, Middle East and North African History 1800 to Present. I could write paragraphs about this class, but that's a topic for a different time.
By 11:50, I'm starving, and head over to Stevenson Dining Hall for lunch. One of my favorite parts of going to Stevie is saying hi to the lovely ladies who swipe your card before you enter the main food area. They always address students by name and love to chat. They are seriously the nicest people in the world and I highly recommend befriending them.
On this particular Monday I'm describing, I was thrilled to see that I got a package from my parents! Usually their packages are filled with granola and candy and things I left at home over the last break. One time they thought it would be really funny to send me a package filled with half-eaten things from our kitchen that they didn't want anymore. I was not amused.
On the average Monday afternoon, I usually head back to my room in Barrows to relax, check Facebook, and read the news. Then, I either go to the gym or do some reading for class. It's a real thrill ride.
On Mondays at 4:35 I have Environment and Society. I know of no other class in the College that is scheduled at this time. There's a reason for this--it's exceedingly difficult to focus when you haven't been in class for five hours and all you can think about is food. I'm usually armed with a ton of snacks to noisily eat while contemplating the destruction of the earth at the hands of humans.
It's time to work. Wow. So reading. Much study.
At 10:00, my friends and I usually trudge over to Dascomb for Fourth Meal, which usually consists of a wide range of unhealthy foods that you can eat ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Corndogs. Soft pretzels. Tater tots. Nachos. Ice cream. Get it all, everyone else is.
Fourth Meal is especially important because my friend Emma and I have our WOBC radio show, "Folk the System," at 4:00 AM the next day. After some trial and error, I have found that the most efficient way to deal with this unfortunate schedule is to stay up until 4:00 and sleep after the show. This is mostly because of the extreme soul-crushing feeling that comes with waking up to an alarm at 3:30 AM.
After Fourth Meal, Emma and I make our playlist for the show and try to work. This usually devolves into playing "2048" and stalking people on Facebook.
At 3:30, approximately 15 minutes before we need to leave for the station, Emma and I play Kanye West's Yeezus in Barrows' third floor lounge and "exercise" (half-hearted squats, lunges, and jumping jacks) in an attempt to "get pumped up" for our show. It's a good time.
It's time for "Folk the System"! We play traditional protest folk music from the 1950s and '60s. These parameters are pretty loose; we have been known to play Arcade Fire, Celtic Woman (I apologize to our listeners), and Corbin Bleu's "Push It to the Limit" from the Disney Channel original masterpiece, Jump In!
Finally time for bed, about 4 hours before I need to get up for Econ the next morning.
So that's my Monday. It's a little long, but rewarding. For all you prospective students out there, trying to choose a college, come visit Oberlin! Choose Oberlin! LET US LOVE YOU.
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