I miss Oberlin. Of course. I'm not having a bad time in Columbia, MO, or anything. I'm volunteering at an archaeometry lab at the University of Missouri nuclear research reactor. Archaeometry is a science gumbo with a little chemistry, a little more nuclear physics, and a lot of archaeology all mixed together. We take archaeological samples of ceramics, obsidian, chert, clay, and other materials and break them down to analyze them for their chemical makeup. They didn't have the money to pay me anything, so they basically told me that I could make my own hours and do whatever jobs I feel like doing. So that's good.
I've been catching up with some high school friends, enjoying beers in bars with people who were too young to drink the last time I saw them. But Oberlin still calls. I'm running a lot of mileage by myself on the same routes I ran all through high school, runs that have no names. I miss named runs, and at school we have runs with great names like Alpaca (there's an alpaca farm on this route), Power Hour, Northern Nine, Southern Seven, Butternut-Bikepath. I miss them. I really wish there was a run called the Widowmaker that we could take freshmen on to break them in, with rocks and fallen trees and the hardest hills you've ever seen. Unfortunately, Oberlin has topography like a pool table unless you're willing to drive a few miles away. I miss seeing friends randomly around Mudd or the Science Center, or seeing girls around campus whose names I don't know, yet somehow I'm deeply in love with (this happens about three times a week at Oberlin. It's hard on a fella's heart). It's about 2 weeks until I'm actually back on Oberlin's campus for Cross Country training camp, and a full 3 until classes start, but it's starting to feel like summer should be winding down.
More for freshmen: The days of orientation will be wild, packed, nervous, and fun. You'll move in to your room and meet your awesome roommate, pick your classes, hear Marvin Krislov talk about how cool you are, and watch RAs make funny onstage for your enjoyment. If I know anything about Oberlin freshmen, you're not too preoccupied worrying about what to pack to worry about other activities at Oberlin. Just to tease your interest-bone a bit, there is a helpful blurb about Student Organizations on the Oberlin main site, with an intriguing listing of clubs, to boot.
If you are interested in writing for any of Oberlin's publications, including the Oberlin Review, Wilder Voice, the Plum Creek Review (whose website's background features a small portion of a Tappan Square photo-mural created by yours truly), The Grape, Spiral, or Drivel Magazine (there are SO many! Don't ask me why), or getting involved with any other organizations, I have a few suggestions:
Look for bulletin boards in the mail room, the Science Center, King, the library, or any other place that happens to have a board up. Fliers may tell you when the first meeting for the Oberlin Review is going down, and it's worth taking twenty seconds no matter what you're doing to find out if anything is going on around campus. While the official Oberlin calendar is updated frequently, it won't tell you the due date for submissions to the Plum Creek Review or what movies are playing in West Lecture Hall on Friday and Saturday nights, but bulletin boards and chalk messages on sidewalks will. These missives often advertise events the day before or the day of the event itself, and you will find somewhere you want to go if you look long enough. My second tip would be to look at the Oberlin Classifieds every once in a while. There is a very general and amorphous "Announcements" section and you may very well find a paying job in the "Student Jobs" section.
If you're interested in sports, you may already be involved in the varsity sport of your personal persuasion. If not, it's certainly not too late! We've had people join the Cross Country team a few weeks into the season, although I would suggest emailing the coach now, like right now, to introduce yourself to the coach and see what you can do to prepare for your own sport. Intramural sports are also big on campus, but mostly have a less formal process of joining, practicing, and competing. I'm no expert on this, but there will probably be fliers around for these sports (I've seen the fliers for rugby and ultimate frisbee around).
Some sports, publications, and clubs are Excos, so make sure to check out the Exco Fair at the beginning of the year, usually on a Thursday during Add/Drop period. You will want to do everything, but you will not be able to. Decision-making skills are a must. I kicked myself for missing this my first two semesters. Here are good places for more info: Excos!, and More Excos!, and don't forget Blogs about Excos!!!!
Also! If you are interested in joining our motley crew of bloggers here at Oberlin Blogs, look for a blog post from Ben sometime during the first few weeks of school asking for your voice. You get paid to do this, what I'm doing right now. Plus perks like blogger lunches, and meeting me. No free T-shirts, though, sorry if you were hoping for one.