March 13, 2022
Charlize Villasenor ’23
After about two and a half years, I am finally experiencing an Oberlin spring. In my first year, students were sent home as the severity of the pandemic grew, and I was not on campus for spring of my second year due to the structure of the three-semester program that was followed that year. So, as a third-year student, I’m finally experiencing my first full spring in Oberlin. The semester has been a bit hectic so far, but it’s been enjoyable. Controlled chaos might be the best way to describe the last few weeks. Let me give a recap on what my semester looks like and how my schedule and experiences lately have asked me to step up my organizational skills and start making “adult” decisions.
So, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m trying to graduate a semester early. For my specific situation, that means I’ve registered for 21 hours (or five full classes and a one-credit course) while juggling jobs, student organizations, and being part of a co-op. Of course, this is on top of trying to be a healthy, social, and well-rounded person, so I have a pretty packed schedule that’s had its surprises and conflicts. The first of my conflicts happened before I even arrived on campus. I was set to fly into Cleveland the day before classes began, which happened to be on a Thursday (sometimes the school schedule looks funky, but I promise it works out). I checked my bags at the ticket counter, went through TSA, then sat at my gate reading a book when I received a text informing me that my connecting flight had been canceled. Essentially, I would’ve been stuck at the Denver airport for a while if I had missed that notification. So I went to the customer service desk and asked about my connecting flight; I was hoping they would say the text had been sent out by accident or something to signify my flight wasn’t actually canceled, but I wasn’t that lucky. At the counter they told me there were no flights to Cleveland, Akron, or Chicago available that day, and the soonest I would be able to fly into Cleveland would be two days later on Saturday. I was nervous to make a decision about whether I should fly in on Saturday, just take the flight to Denver and figure it out there, or do something else. I just wanted to call my dad and ask what I should do, but I knew that dozens of others were probably rescheduling their flight at the same time; it was a time-sensitive matter and only I could choose what would be best for my situation. At that moment, I felt that I grew up a little bit more. I made an important decision without needing someone else to confirm that it was the “right” choice – something that’s been a little difficult for me over the years. And although I’d love to end there and say that was how this situation ended, that is not the case. My flight was moved again, this time by choice, because I wouldn’t have had a ride from the Cleveland airport to Oberlin. The only rough thing about that is that I bought tickets to see Farruko in Cleveland that Saturday, so I essentially threw away $50 since they were non-refundable and I didn’t buy ticket insurance. Lessons learned and remembered that week: I should think about buying insurance when I buy tickets, things don’t always go as planned, and I am capable of making decisions for myself even if they make me nervous. Quite the stressful way to start a semester, but I think it set the tone perfectly.
As I said earlier, I think controlled chaos is the only way I can truly describe how this semester has gone so far. In terms of classes, I’m taking the following: Latinx Art: Past and Futures; Seminar: Non-Market Valuation of Environmental Amenities; Latinas/os in Comparative Perspective; Introduction to Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies; Business, Finance, and Consulting Career Community; and Borderlands – three of which have two-hour-long classes. My course choices this semester are quite different from what I’ve taken in the past, but I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I often have an economics-heavy schedule with one class in a language or something else I might enjoy, but this semester I have only one economics class, three classes with a focus on Latinx populations and experiences, an intro course, and a career-based course. Having so much on my plate and wanting to graduate early has surprisingly made me a better student. I love being in bed before midnight, so I don’t mind doing homework between classes and saying no to events at times. I really love my 9am classes, so that has helped me wake up in time to go to class, and having a consistent schedule has been amazing for my quality of sleep. I’ve begun to organize my week every Sunday on my Google Calendar, and just overall settle into the rhythm of things. Since I have so many commitments, it was a struggle to schedule all of them into my week, but it’s gotten easier since week one. I even have time to complete all my readings and turn in each assignment on time (not a big deal for some, but I’ll take it as a win). I included a photo of my schedule for the upcoming week so you can have an idea of what my week typically looks like.
Even though I feel super busy, I also feel extremely grateful. Every semester, it hits me that I have been given the opportunity to attend college, and even more so that I have the opportunity to be at an amazing school in a completely different environment than the one back home. I feel grateful even when I’m tired and a little beaten down because my fatigue comes from being a student with many responsibilities and working towards a goal, rather than coming from being tired and unfulfilled in my daily life. I feel especially blessed knowing that I’ve grown so much in my time at Oberlin, I have had experiences made only available by attending Oberlin, and I will likely have opportunities waiting for me once I graduate. My personality, values, and beliefs have all been influenced by my time at Oberlin; finding and maintaining community is a formative experience that has impacted me for the better.
In terms of goals and opportunities this semester, I feel that I’m on a pretty good track at the moment. I spent my winter term working at an internship remotely, while also applying for dozens of summer internships. After applying to dozens of positions, and hearing dozens of no’s, I hit a lucky streak. Within a matter of days I had an offer to intern at KeyBank in Cleveland and interviews at Discover, Cognizant, and CitiBank all at once. I still have recruiters sending me emails and LinkedIn messages, so I’m glad I didn’t give up after the first few rejections. I am currently considering an offer and will likely accept it, but I feel that it deserves its own blog post so I won’t give too many details in this post. If you read my New Year's Resolutions post, you might remember that I had set goals to visit Mexico and New York. The way this semester is looking, I’m not sure I’ll complete those goals in the near future, but I have made plans to visit Chicago twice this semester which will in turn help me complete one of my other resolutions: go to a concert. If you know me, you know I absolutely love going to concerts and it’s one of the things I missed most when the pandemic was at its height. I figure that going to a concert is a great way to treat myself after this difficult semester, and a way to remind myself what I’m ultimately working towards: freedom to make choices that increase my happiness. With all that said, if you see me at the Rauw Alejandro concert or Sueños festival these next few months, know that I’m having a great time and I’m starting to live the life that I envision for myself. Even when things feel tough in the moment, I feel like I get reminders from the Universe to be patient and trust that things will eventually work out for the better. Remember the Farruko concert that I said I missed due to flight changes? He was added as a surprise headliner for Sueños, so I will see him eventually even if it didn’t work out at first.
All of the frenzy of the first three weeks of the semester has been simultaneously energizing and tiring, but ultimately I’m excited for what spring has to offer. Since I’ve been on campus, the days have gotten longer, brighter, and (somewhat) warmer. I’m a summer girl through and through, so I’ll be completely in my element when the temperature is regularly 60 to 70 degrees and there's enough sunshine for me to do my homework outside. This semester has reminded me that spring always comes, even if it’s a little later than originally thought; there’s still opportunities for me to experience some firsts at Oberlin, even if I’m only a few semesters away from graduating; and that my efforts are being noticed (by myself and others), even if it doesn’t feel like anything life-changing at the moment. For the high school seniors reading this, I hope you’re also able to reflect on what spring means to you, what you want out of your college experience, and who you hope to be in five years. Until my next post, enjoy the April showers and May flowers.
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