In these final weeks of summer, as freshman blood pressure rises everywhere, I remember how I felt this time last year.
I was petrified of Oberlin, mostly by the composition department, because I had never dreamed I would be accepted into the programme and thought (and haven't stopped thinking) that I had somehow slipped through by mistake. I had nightmares about desperately trying to write harmony exercises in class on manuscript paper the size of my thumb with a pencil covered in slippery goop and arthritic fingers - write some notes down, for God's sake, any notes will do! - while rave music played loudly in my ears and all I could see was rainbow spirals, amidst the looming shadow of an underwhelmed professor, who, with a kindly smile, would look down on me and say, 'Well, what a shame.'
So here's my advice to first-years: NO WORRIES! I invented so many things to stress about last summer, and all of them disappeared as soon as I got to Oberlin. Packing: it's Sod's law. Bring it, and you won't need it. Leave it, and there's Ben Franklin's (they will have what you need, even if it's a ninja sword). Anyway, you need very little to survive here - some don't even bother with shoes. Friends: there are hundreds of lovely people here waiting to meet you. It's that easy!
Classes: shop around during add/drop period and don't settle. Do you really want to be studying whateveritis for a whole four months? Maybe you do...sounds a bit generic to me...but anyway, find the best classes for you. I was told so many times to take a first-year seminar, I didn't take a first year seminar, and I do not regret it at all. I took what was my favourite class (on The Odyssey) instead. It had tons of discussion and it didn't matter at all that there were more than 14 people in the class. It just meant we had more points of view. My advisor recommended it and I would never have thought of it myself (thank you Dan Stinebring!). Can I put a plug in for Prof. Van Nortwick's The Iliad and Myths of Tragedy class coming up this fall, MWF at 11am? It's his last time ever teaching it, it's 100-level and I guarantee that even if you have no prior interest in the subject, you'll LOVE it. Anyone would.
Here is a picture of Oberlin professor James Helm, suspected author of the Iliad and Odyssey, and Homer, founder of the Oberlin Classics department's annual 24-hour live reading of the Odyssey or Iliad, which has been happening for years now. I like it much more that way round. People volunteer to read a book each (i.e. just one of the books within one of the books) and there are many snacks. It's brilliant!
And be prepared for orientation, cos this might happen to you:
I think I am third from right?
After giving you all that advice, my final advice is: never take advice. I mean, unless you've made the decision for yourself too. Don't take classes you think you should take, whether it is something that fulfills requirements, pleases other people, or is needed for a prospective major - there's plenty of time for that later (if ever). If you're worried about those things, just think of me, with no idea what I am doing, and no real plans except to walk more dogs in the future... Take what you really want to take. That's what a liberal arts college is for, right? You might end up finding something entirely unexpected that you love. That's what I was told, anyway. Is there a money back guarantee on this?
So for now, listen to some Bob Marley, eat a mango and just be excited! Or don't, it's your decision. But I challenge you to freedom of expression in the face of a ripe mango.
Oh, just look at that juicy drip rolling down the side! I can smell it from here!
Rare Animal Featurette 4: The New Addition
This is Dandelion Turok-Squire (middle name still to be decided), pictured in his natural habitat. I literally got him as soon as I got through border control. He is a fluffball. He loves grapes, apples, carrots and broccoli (a kindred spirit), running very fast in his wheel (we think it must feel a bit like flying for a hamster), being stroked (one time I even heard him snore! It was this little clicky noise), grooming and exploring.
He also loves a good sand-bath but is a bit camera shy.
Last semester, I felt a serious lack of life and cuddly things in my dorm room during all those crazy studying sessions (not happening again). I was on the verge of investing in an imaginary puppy. Next semester - fish? Terrapin? Ant farm? Something. More frequent dog walking and Ginko kitten visits at least.
Now I have created a massive dilemma. Should I come back to Oberlin in the fall, if it means leaving Dandelion?? God, why aren't there hamster passports?