1. Sometimes, when you're up to your elbows in work and stress, it's best to force yourself to do at least one non-academic activity every day.
I'm going nuts writing a 25-page paper for my senior English seminar and planning the Nicaragua delegation, and though I was planning to hole up in the library from dawn to dusk yesterday, a few key moments saved my sanity. It was unseasonably warm yesterday--t-shirt weather! My housemate and I woke up around 11 and had a little time to kill before attending our other housemate's meal at Old B co-op, where she's a head cook. I lamely suggested that we do some reading. Thankfully, she convinced me to bike around the Arboretum (or Arb for short) and take fall photos instead.
The Arb is the southernmost point on campus, past Old B and J-House (a stately, Jewish-themed dorm). It's a beautiful little bit of nature with trails, little creeks, and gorgeous trees. It's lovely to visit in every season, even in the dead of winter when it's covered in snow. Ohio is flat as hell, but there's a modest slope in the Arb perfect for sledding. Anyways, the ride, followed by delicious food (including lemon poppyseed cake!) cleared my head and got me geared up to write my paper.
2. It's okay not to go out every weekend night.
Yes, there may be a hot new student band playing at a party down the street. There may be a crazy experimental play being put on. But there's definitely something to be said for staying in on a chilly fall evening with a few good friends. I stayed in pretty much all weekend (part me being a homebody and part this monster of a paper I have to write) and will reward myself tonight by going to a tango dance in Cleveland with my favorite professor and some good friends.
3. Ask and ye shall receive.
A lot of Obies complain about a lot of things. Food, housing options, their homework loads, various injustices practiced by the powers that be... Yet not as many do something about it. I've found that the school administration has been exceedingly responsive to student input.
For example, I was poking around on the recently re-designed Oberlin website and I noticed something that bothered me. To get to any information about OSCA (the beloved co-ops), you have to either hunt in "student organizations" under "co-ops" where it's listed as equal to much smaller and less influential organizations like the photo co-op, or really dig in the housing and dining sections, where it's listed last even though it's by far the cheapest option. I wrote an e-mail to my bloggerboss Ben Jones, and after listening my concerns he made arrangements to put a more visible link to OSCA's website on the homepage. Badda bing, badda boom. Another co-op-related example came a few weeks ago, when students who had to practice their Spanish for class complained that there was an official "Spanish table" in the dining hall, but not in co-ops. Kim Faber, who teaches beginning Spanish among other things, listened and is currently setting up an OSCA Spanish conversation table that yours truly might lead.
I'm not saying the school bends over backwards for every student whim, but more often than not, airing grievances can be highly productive.
More unsolicited lessons to come! Any other Obies want to chime in on the discussion?