Oberlin Blogs

Fall Break: Round Two

November 6, 2019

Claire O’Brocta ’23

I love Oberlin immensely, but even so, a seven-week countdown began in my head the moment I stepped foot on campus in August. This countdown was for Fall Break, the week off we get in October to mark the halfway point of the semester. There are three main ways Oberlin students tend to spend their class-free week: staying on campus, traveling, and going home. I was particularly excited for this Fall Break because I had plans to do a little bit of each of those things!

Staying on Campus

There’s some debate over the official beginning of break. Is it on Friday after classes end? When the clock strikes midnight on Saturday? Or maybe it’s as soon as you submit your last midterm! For the purposes of this blog, I’m going to use the first definition: Friday after class ends. This makes my on-campus segment of break stretch from Friday at about 4:30 pm to Sunday at 8 pm, which is the longest I’ve stayed on campus during a break so far.

Some of my friends were fortunate enough to leave campus on this sunny Friday Fall day, but I’d say I was equally fortunate to stay there. My co-op was closed for break shutdown, so I was able to tag along to the dining hall, Stevie, with some friends for dinner. This group of friends is one I haven’t had as much time to see this semester as I would have liked, so it was especially nice to have the opportunity to share a meal with them.

After dinner, we all chilled together in my friends’ dorm room, listened to The B-52’s and The Beach Boys, and finally had the opportunity to relax after a stressful midterms week. Even those of us who were still finishing up our last assignments had a sense of relaxation, because the home stretch was in sight at last.

We finished up the evening by enjoying a YouTube musical on someone’s laptop, and saying our temporary goodbyes to those who were leaving in the morning. A few more friends left after lunch on Saturday, and by Sunday, it was just those who were staying on campus for the whole week, and me!

Saturday and Sunday were both in the 60s temperature-wise, which is beautiful for late October in this region. The sun was shining, so I spent a good portion of my weekend outside, doing everything from lounging on a yoga mat on North Quad, to biking through neighborhoods south of campus, to sitting under a tree, enjoying the vibrant seasonal colors in Tappan Square.

Since I was leaving Sunday night, it also meant my break weekend on campus was filled with packing and laundry! I usually don’t have too much trouble obtaining an open washing machine when class is in session, but having only a fraction of the usual people on campus makes doing laundry that much easier. As soon as all of my clothes, food, and miscellaneous items were bagged up and ready to go, it was finally time to make the trek to the Conservatory, where my friend (and fellow blogger!) Cait was waiting in her car to take us to the next section of break… travel!

Colorful Fall trees line the road on the edge of Tappan Square
A view of Tappan's beautiful Fall trees on the first Saturday of break
Colorful Fall trees in the middle of Tappan Square
Some more of the Tappan trees, this time from the perspective of sitting under one of them!



My travel plans for Fall Break began to form in July, when one of my favorite bands announced a new tour. There weren’t any dates close enough to Oberlin for a day trip (the only Ohio date was 4 hours away in Cincinnati), and there was a similar predicament when it came to my hometown. Fortunately, I realized that the Cincinnati date was during the incredible Oberlin Fall Break, when I actually had time to make the four-hour trip on a Tuesday. Or, more accurately, extend that trip into multiple cities and multiple days. First stop? Sunday night, Columbus, Ohio.

Cait was driving through Columbus on her way home for break, so she was conveniently able to drop off both me and my good friend Sarah, a first-year at Oberlin. Traveling with fellow Obies is one of the best ways to travel in my opinion, and I know it’s how a lot of us spend our breaks! Some Oberlin students use this time to visit each other’s hometowns (or maybe they live in the same one, and travel there together!), and others just go on fun adventures together.

My trip with Sarah definitely fell into the fun adventure category. We spent Monday afternoon exploring Columbus’ Short North arts district, where we got to visit cool trinket shops, record stores, galleries, and more. After a late lunch at Chipotle, we made our way to the Greyhound station and left for Cincinnati. Even with all of those afternoon activities, we still had time in the evening to attend a fan event for the band we were seeing the next day, and visit the National Steamboat Monument. This monument is a unique structure on the banks of the Ohio river commemorating the importance of riverboats in Cincinnati’s history. The memorial had an interactive sound component that reminded me a lot of TECH 202, my TIMARA class this semester that focuses on real-time electronic sound! It was cool to connect with my major in an unexpected place, and I’ll certainly be on the lookout for more interactive sound installations in my future travels.

Following our eventful Monday, Sarah and I spent the Tuesday of our Fall Break waiting in line all day for the concert, attending it, and driving back to Columbus afterward. Wednesday was our final day of travel, as we took one last bus from Columbus to Cleveland, the last city on our four-day traipse through Ohio. In Cleveland, both of our moms picked us up and brought us home for the rest of the week.

A city street featuring a large metal arch extending over the road
Columbus' Short North arts district, featuring its trademark arches and typical Ohio construction
A bridge over a river with the sunrise in the background
Sunrise over the Ohio River in Cincinnati
A structure featuring a large steamboat paddle wheel replica and accompanying  pillars in front of a river
The red wheel and pillars below it make up the National Steamboat Monument. If you place your hand near certain spots on the pillars, they'll make sounds!


Going Home

Since my hometown is only a three and a half hour drive from Oberlin, I’ve been able to go home for (at least part of) each of my breaks so far. Going home during Fall Break is particularly exciting, because it’s the first chance I have to see my family and friends there since the start of the school year! I love my friends at Oberlin, but it’s always nice to catch up with my high school friends, and learn about the variety of things that they’re all doing in college.

The best part of being at home during break was being able to participate in my favorite Fall tradition, where my family goes up to Lake Ontario and gets popcorn, apples, and other seasonal treats. I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to participate in similar activities (such as going to Lake Erie or picking apples) through Oberlin, which has definitely made me feel more connected to my family in New York while living at school. Despite that, it’s even more fun to get to experience the real deal, and I’m glad that Fall Break gave me the chance to do that.

A golden retriever dog
Seeing my dog Zuri is one of my favorite parts about being home
Short stone walls and patches of grass in front of a lake
Lake Ontario on the second Saturday of Fall Break


Back to Oberlin

Wednesday night through Sunday afternoon at home was great, but eventually, great things must leave to make way for different great things. This time, the different great thing was coming back to Oberlin! One of my favorite parts of coming back was being reunited with the TIMARA studios (which I had missed tremendously during my brief time away), and of course, Halloween week, which is always filled with a plethora of exciting events around campus.

Perhaps the most important part of being back to Oberlin, though, is starting a new countdown until the next break, which is Thanksgiving! Four and a half weeks of classes lie between these breaks, and I’m very excited to see what comes of them. See you on the other side!

Sunset in the background of Cleveland's skyline
The sunset in Cleveland on my drive back to Oberlin at the end of break


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