Oberlin Blogs

A Day in the Life of an Obie

December 9, 2012

Dara Lehrer ’16

For those prospective students out there, I wanted to write a post that might help to answer the question, what do Oberlin students do on the weekends? Personally, I think the social scene here is pretty different from most other colleges and universities, in large part to the fact that we don't have any sororities or fraternities. Oberlin students are also (in my ever so humble opinion) pretty unique in terms of their interests and how they spend their time in general. Anyways, here is my weekend in words and pictures.

I typically don't start my weekend on Thursday nights, but this week was an exception. If you've ever heard about Oberlin dances, then you've probably heard of Safer Sex night, which just happened to be this past Thursday. Essentially, the Sexual Information Center (a student run organization on campus) puts on a week's worth of informative lectures on various subjects, followed by a dance, where the rule is that all genitals and nipples must be covered, but the rest is fair game.

A guy in a bowtie with no shirt holds up an event ticket. The sign on the wall says, 'Nipples and genitals must be covered at all times.'
My friend proudly posing with the rules for Safer Sex night, which were strictly enforced.

It's a pretty uniquely Oberlin experience, and thus as a first-year I felt obligated to go. I was surprised by how normal I felt—I guess I've never been one to care very much about seeing other people almost naked (which is one of the reasons I think I could stomach being a doctor). If you're interested in reading another person's take, click here [this link is no longer active] for a critique of the whole idea of Safer Sex night.

A group of friends in skimpy attire. Their faces have been photoshopped to be the characters from the PBS children's show Arthur.
A picture of me and my friends, who shall remain anonymous, before the dance. As you can see, I (on the far right) am decidedly not naked.

After classes on Friday, the weekend is at its prime. I love Friday afternoons—they are undoubtedly the best time of the week. The world is at your leisure and Monday morning seems eons away.

I spent my Friday night having pizza (gluten-free pizza, that is) and dancing. Friday night is always pizza night in the co-ops (a place where students eat and cook, instead of going to a dining hall), and the pizza head cooks usually tend to get really creative with toppings and such. This semester, our pizza head cook has started making calzones and all sorts of other yummy pizza-related goodies.

Baking sheets full of pizza
Homemade pizza. Yum.

After dinner, my friend and I went to contra dancing, which is similar to square dancing, but way more fun. I admittedly forgot to take a picture while I was there, so the picture shown below is from the Oberlin Contra Dance website.

People of mixed ages contra-dancing in a gym.
Look at all these people having a good time swinging their partners.

I love contra dancing because it's super easy to learn, the music is always really folky and upbeat (and live!), and everyone is always so smiley. My mouth usually hurts more than my feet by the end of a contra dance.

My favorite class this semester was taught exclusively on Saturdays. Although the idea of devoting three hours of precious weekend time to a class might seem daunting, it was actually the easiest thing I've ever done. That probably has something to do with the topic of the class, which is officially called "Alternative Medicine and Healing: Theory and Practice." The class isn't offered through the college, nor is it an ExCo, something that you can read more about here. A Chiropractic Doctor in town teaches the low-key course from the comfort of her own living room to a small and attentive group of students eager to learn.

Students in front of a fireplace with notebooks.
Pictured above are a few of the students, intently listening to Jen (far right) talk about that intangible yet essential life force that comes with birth and goes with death.

Over the course of the semester, she taught us the very basics of energy work, homeopathy, herbal remedies, detoxification, food as medicine, meditation, Chinese and ayurvedic medicine, natural births and deaths, and the holistic lifestyle in general. The flyer for the class reads, "If you have always wanted to know more about or are considering a career in holistic medicine, or just want to focus in depth on your own health and well-being, this is the class for you," and indeed it was. I loved every second of that class, and couldn't believe my luck that I had stumbled upon something so cool that I enjoyed so much so soon after arriving to Oberlin.

The rest of Saturday afternoon was devoted to helping my friend cook dinner. Saturday night was the first night of Chanukah and, as such, latkes were in order. If you don't already know, latkes are potato pancakes traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream during the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. Like most traditions, I'm not sure where it originated or why.

A co-op kitchen in action
We made carrot-radish-potato latkes to spice things up.

After dinner, we went to a folk concert in the basement of Keep Cottage, where I live most of the time in my friends' rooms. It was really nice. I personally love folk music more than most other kinds of music, because you can understand what the musicians are saying, they usually harmonize, and there is always at least one stringed instrument involved, if not more.

A bluegrass group in a festively decorated basement.
I think the christmas lights help set the mood.

Sunday morning should always be devoted to sleeping in and eating yummy food, and the rest of the day to homework. I work at a little yoga studio in town called SolaLuna where I cover a class (meaning I mainly stand at the front desk and greet people as they sign in) on Sunday afternoons, which is a great place to get homework done or, if I'm on top of my work, take the class myself.

Large room with yoga mats. There is a stain on the ceiling.
I love this room. It has such character, especially the ceiling. It's a great space to practice yoga in.


Dara with a skeleton
Me chilling with my buddy at SolaLuna. He's missing his tibia and fibula on one of his legs. He's pretty self conscious about it but I've helped him talk through some of his unresolved anger issues during our many sessions together.

In the evening, I had a screening of a movie to attend for my first-year seminar class. We watched Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a movie about a man who lives in East Berlin and gets a botched sex change operation, then ends up as a want-to-be rockstar in Kansas. Sounds like something you wouldn't typically be watching for a class, right?

Punk singer in a long blond wig.
Hedwig rocking out in angst.

It was a cool movie. Funnily enough, I'd already seen it before when I was a freshman in high school (although on my own accord, it wasn't for a class back then). It's interesting to me how differently I responded to the movie each time I watched it—just goes to show how much learning and growing potential people have to comprehend things as they get older (and exposed to more new things).

So that's my weekend in a nutshell*. I hope from this you (whoever you may be) have gained a bit of insight as to what Obies do with their time.


*if you have two pecans with nutshells of equal strength and you squeeze them together in your palm, they both break and you get to eat both of the goodies

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