Oberlin Blogs

Frequently Asked Questions: What is an Average Day?

April 5, 2009

Aries Indenbaum ’09

Note-- Dear Readers: Write Comments. No matter how inane, they make me feel better.

Congratulations, Class of 2013!

You've worked hard, you've studied lots, you've kicked ass and taken names, and now you're in college! And now comes the hard part: you need to choose where you're going.

As one of the Admissions Interns, I'm spending the next few weeks answering questions, clarifying problems, and trying to help you choose. Here follow some of the good questions...

Who doesn't fit at Oberlin?

You're right--Oberlin isn't for everyone. We don't have frats or sororities. Sports games are on the same playing field as violin recitals and dance shows. If you live in a first-year dorm, a program house, or a co-op, you will know everyone in the house by the year's end. You will feel guilty if you don't do your homework; people in your seminar know if you don't read for class. We aren't a party school, but we aren't a bookworm school--people don't spend all of their waking hours in the library.

If you dislike music, you will like Oberlin less. If you are unfriendly or boring, you will like Oberlin less. If you don't care about the environment, or social justice issues... you will like Oberlin less. If you don't take chances, you will like Oberlin less.

How far away is Oberlin?

Carpooling is your friend.

Does weird stuff happen at Oberlin?

What kind of weird stuff?
I've got a pretty high weird-o-meter, so I'm probably not your best bet.

You're very unhelpful. Then what's average?
One of the questions I get on tours is "What's an average day like, for an Oberlin student?" This is, of course, one of the most difficult questions ever. Most Oberlin students are crazy overbooked, in whole new ways. My friends tell me I do too much, but I think they are far worse.

I don't remember average things. I remember humans and events. But nothing "average." So here's non-average average:

-- I'm in the women's locker room, changing from pants to shorts. As my jeans are clean off one leg but still grasping to the other, I hear the women's lacrosse team getting ready. They've got a game, so they're psyched to wallop the stuffing out of their rivals. As I'm sliding my shorts on, I hear a weird burst of sound, like an elephant howling for a lady-elephant. Of course, it's not an elephant, but a bagpipe. Of course. The lacrosse player with the bagpipe, goggles rested on her head, led the team in a parade out to the field.

-- Do you know the Mountain Goats? They're an amazing band, started by John Darnielle, who sing about all the saddest things in life. Meth addiction, lost love, the first time in years that you made coffee for only one person... sad stuff.

Sample lyrics from No Children:

And I'd hope that if I found the strength to walk out
You'd stay the hell out of my way
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

or "This Year," which sums up my thoughts on getting a job in this economy if you ignore the alcoholic aspects of the rest of the song:

I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.
I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.

Darnielle played a show here the Monday after break. It's was Monday night and the Sco was full, each person reaching towards the front. Most people sang or mouthed the words to the songs; many shouted requests for songs despite the set list at John's feet. He was an amazing singer and storyteller who rendered an amazing stillness and raptness from the crowd. He blew me away.

Also, he gave Kate the best autograph ever:

"7:00 a.m: curse the patriarchy
7:30 a.m: fight for pay equity
8:00 a.m: bemoan the suppression of women's history
8:30 a.m: breakfast

Kate is the raddest prospie ever. I am sorry, Other Prospies. I can still love you, just in a different way.

-- I was on the radio today! WOBC, Oberlin's college and community radio, hosts a zillion different kinds of shows. For my first two years, I was way into The Dead Hear Footsteps, a radio noir show, before other things started eating my time. Last semester, I did some Sisters Grim shows with Amanda, telling stories about werewolves. I've sat in on world music shows, I've listened to alternative hours... djs play everything. Today, I did Saturated Facts, WOBC's only quiz show game!

It was an Admissions Challenge, so I browbeat Kris into playing with me. She, of course, trounced me. The Jeopardy-style categories were... Faberge; (You Shouldn't Have!); Weird Animals; Henry the VIII; Banned Books; World's Fair. I demolished Henry the VIII, as a Quiz Bowl veteran is wont to do. Kris creamed me in Weird Animals, as she used to work in a pet store.

Barring my ruined pride, it was an awesome way to spend an hour.

-- Immediately after, I walked into a Korean Drumming performance--totally cool, totally unexpected.

So, pretty average. All this stuff, plus job-searching, writing, and working.

Responses to this Entry

This is awesome.

Posted by: Will on April 5, 2009 3:35 PM

Awesome, thanks for making me even more excited about Oberlin. I mean, I was already incredibly psyche, but that John Darnielle info just put it through the roof. So...did he play Woke Up New?

Posted by: Kira on April 5, 2009 5:07 PM

i love aries. this post is the best.

@kira: yes, he did play woke up new, with some amusing yet heartbreaking banter beforehand ("she blindsided me!"). bootlegs are available.

Posted by: Kate on April 5, 2009 6:13 PM

Haha, this is awesome. I'm excited about visiting!

Posted by: Marion on April 5, 2009 10:31 PM

@Kira-- Yes! He did! It was so sad! My significant other was not a fan and named the song "Woke up, meh."

@Marion -- Sweet! Warning, Oberlin's weather is being super-erratic...

Today -- Sundress
Tonight-- Raincoat
Tuesday -- Winter coat
Later -- Sundress!

Sundress days are the best days. I feel like the worst feminist ever in my desire for days in which I don't have to wear pants.

@Kate :: I want your bootleg! I want JD, and his sweet, floppy hair! I want to tell stories with him!

Posted by: Aries on April 5, 2009 11:36 PM

i chuckled aloud at "woke up, meh." (though most anything can make me do that at midnight)

i shall message thee. because i can't get over the fact that the concert was a week ago and it is time for me to continue regular, mountain goats-less life.

Posted by: Kate on April 6, 2009 12:51 AM

Awesome! I had really wanted to see the Mountain Goats (well, John) in New York, but I was away that weekend. I definitely understand the post-concert bummer. And yeah...bootlegs?

Posted by: Kira on April 6, 2009 12:57 PM

Yes, I know the Mountain Goats! Excellent band. My cousin is obsessed with them. Their only song that I own is "Jeff Davis County Blues."

Posted by: Anna V. E. on April 6, 2009 3:06 PM

@kira -- hm. I feel iffy posting them on the intertubes here. Where'd you find it, Kate?

@Kate -- my withdrawal was greatly improved by drag ball. It was so, so good.

@Anna -- listen to them when you are sad and you will love them for eternity. when I'm happy, they just don't get me the same way.

Posted by: Aries on April 6, 2009 7:18 PM

Totally unrelated to mountain goats, but one time in a Social Studies class, my teacher (also the football coach) stated that Texas was the biggest state in the US, and when we protested, told us to look at the map. It was the kind like the one you have pictured here, where Alaska is located where Mexico should be, about a third of what its size should be if it were to scale. And I've been in love with public schools ever since.

Posted by: Joe on April 6, 2009 10:32 PM

@Joe -- Yknow what's ridiculous? Greenland. In every kid's map, Greenland is huge, about the size of South America. Possibly bigger than Africa.
Greenland is not that huge, it just makes us Northern Hemesphere folks look awesome.

Also, Texas is huge. Crazy-huge. Your teacher's confusion is understandable.

Posted by: Aries on April 6, 2009 10:39 PM

@kira: yeah, linking to bootlegs on the oberlin blogs doesn't strike me as the finest idea, so i'd recommend that you venture over to the official mountain goats forums and find the thread on the oberlin show.

@aries: tell me about it! (not just using this as a meaningless phrase)

Posted by: Kate on April 7, 2009 12:03 AM

@Kate: Literally? Tell you about Texas?

Posted by: Aries on April 7, 2009 9:15 AM

@Kate: will do, thanks for the heads-up!

And I have pretty much always been geographically challenged, whether that is the fault of school-provided maps or my own lack of direction, I guess I'll never know.

Posted by: Kira Cohen on April 7, 2009 10:40 AM

Hi, cool post. I am so excited I got into Oberlin! So what is weather like in Oberlin?

Posted by: Harriette on April 7, 2009 1:13 PM

Dear Harriette,

Oberlin weather is hilarious. Right now, it's snowing. Two days ago, it was lovely. Weather patterns change every 3 days, so if you don't like one thing, it changes pretty fast. Very similar to the northeast, generally. Just a bit... funnier.

Posted by: Aries on April 7, 2009 7:00 PM

@aries: hahaha, no no not about texas! about drag ball. sorry for the confusion.

Posted by: Kate on April 7, 2009 11:49 PM

I did have one more question... what is public transportation like at Oberlin? Are there shuttles from airports and train stations? Thanks again!

Posted by: Harriette on April 15, 2009 12:08 PM


There's a shuttle to the airport- the LCT - that runs about 7 times a day. From the airport, you can get to the train station, West Side Market, University Circle or downtown Cleveland. It's 5$, but that's pretty good in comparison to taxis.
Also, if you're thinking of ways to get home... carpooling is big. It's a nice way to get home and make friends

Posted by: Aries on April 17, 2009 3:20 PM

Your how far away is Ohio picture is killer. If it were me, I would have definitely colored Alaska bright orange just for kicks.

I will also trade your average day for my average day. It sounds like you have more fun :P

Posted by: Sean on April 18, 2009 12:48 AM

To be fair, I do have more... uh... normal days, but they still involve something at least on the fringes of cool. Or so I hope.

Posted by: Aries on April 18, 2009 12:14 PM

So I'm going to assume everyone in Oberlin has your sense of humor, in which case it is my dream college. I took a tour this summer, and although this has nothing to do with your article, I noticed you're a creative writing major. Whats that major like?

Posted by: Jesse Steinmetz on August 29, 2009 10:41 PM


Thanks! I never really wrote about my major-- writing about writing is hard for me. That said, it's an incredible major! Do it!

Cool things about the CrWr Major:
1. You have to apply for each class.

Effects: department-wide fear, perpetually updated portfolios, no big egos, high quality writers in classes, understanding that writing is for an audience.

2. The professors are so, so cool.
CANNOT OVERSTATE THIS POINT. They are epically incredible: challenging on a writing level, friendly, accessible, creating all the time. They're all working writers. See:

3. You work really hard.

4. All types of writing are cool. I write mostly speculative fiction (ie. classy dystopian and technofetish sci-fi) and no teacher has ever been judgemental or cruel to me.

5. Your peers are so smart. Their critiques are priceless.

6. It's 100% workshops. All learning, all the time.

Posted by: Aries on August 30, 2009 6:31 PM

Also, if you visit, I'd love to chat about it at embarrassing length.

Posted by: Aries on August 30, 2009 6:32 PM

haha I'll let you know if I visit, I'd very much enjoy that. the major soudns great. but applying to each class? what if you never get into any of the classes you want to take?

Posted by: Jesse Steinmetz on October 4, 2009 12:40 AM

I'm writing a long entry on it now, actually! I'm glad you asked-- it's a sticky subject that takes a while to go through.

That said, I'd think of it more as having to audition for a band/choir/orchestra. If folks aren't at the same level, it doesn't work.

Determination is 90% of it. If you want to be a writer, the thing to do is... write. And if you want to be a major, tell the profs. If you're a major, and you write, you'll get into the classes.

Posted by: Aries on October 4, 2009 7:08 PM

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