Oberlin Blogs


October 29, 2019

Ilana McNamara ’24

As a first-year student, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what Oberlin was going to be like before I got here. Some things turned out to be true, but there were also many things I didn’t expect about Oberlin. Here’s a short list:

  1. People don’t take themselves seriously all the time. I thought that Oberlin was going to be a bunch of liberal granola-loving idealists, and while this is true, Oberlin students also know these things and are able to make fun of themselves, which is really gratifying.
  2. Signing up for classes is hard. Most people don’t get all of the classes they want, and add/drop, which is when people are still sorting out their schedules, can be very stressful because lots of students are trying to get into classes that just don’t have room. However, you do have four or five years, so there’s time to take most classes that you want to take. 
  3. You don’t need to bring all of your clothes from home. I did, and my roommate just stared at me while I unpacked it all, taking a good couple of hours longer than her. It feels nice to have all of my things, but our closet looks really odd as it’s 75% my stuff. Granted, I also have a lot of clothes, but still. Limit yourself.
  4. Co-ops can get super technical. I’m in the Kosher-Halal Co-op, and it’s not a bunch of kids trying to figure out how to eat. There are many set procedures, and a lot more organization and bureaucracy than I expected. It usually works really smoothly, and I love eating with and spending time with my fellow co-opers.
  5. If you’re in the Conservatory, you will actually spend ALL OF YOUR TIME in the Conservatory. I’m a double-degree student, but I get to the Con every day at 9:00am and basically don’t leave until 9:00pm, except for meals, and some people don’t even leave for that. Between practicing in Robertson, taking classes in Bibbins, and having rehearsals just about everywhere around the Con, I find myself studying in the Con library or the Con lounge most of the time. Although those are nice, I’ve been trying to branch out and find other places to park myself while I do work. Some suggestions: the Art Library (it’s comfy and there’s a window that looks into the museum), Asia House Library (on the second floor, it looks like Hogwarts), or the porch outside of Wilder, the student union (when it’s nice out). 
  6. Everything is on Facebook. All the events, every single club or organization on campus. No idea why. 

This is what I’ve noticed so far in my first few months, but I’m sure even more surprising and unexpected things will happen in my time at Oberlin!

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