On Getting Used to College
Maybe I'm not the most qualified person to write a blog post on this topic, as I'm still in the thick of this adjustment myself. As enamored with Oberlin as I am, I wake most mornings thinking of California as home and can't help but compare the dining hall food to my mom's cooking. More than a few nights have been spent on my bed Skyping with my sister instead of in the hall lounge meeting new people. What I'm learning is that it's okay not to feel completely comfortable all the time. Someone told me once that it takes at least a semester to figure out how you fit in at college. Finding home here is an ongoing process.
For some reason, inexplicably, the mailroom has become my happy place on campus. I visit probably three times a day, just to glance into my mailbox for a moment. My connection to the outside world, a central location, a warm little room where everyone has a common goal—it's simple and homey. No one really understands my love for the Oberlin mailroom, but it makes me smile, and that's all that matters.
Another thing that's been making me smile lately is finding friends in unusual places. There's no better time than the first few weeks of college to strike up a conversation with every random stranger you cross. Believe me, I've been doing that everywhere from the laundry room to fourth meal to the line at the bookstore. And I can't count how many times I've introduced myself with my name, pronouns, and hometown only to have someone say, "Wow! There are so many people here from California." Yup. Half of the Bay Area's artsy teens have basically moved to the middle of Ohio. We're here to dance in the rain, traverse the town searching for burritos, and worry loudly about what we'll do when winter comes. Though many of my new friends at Oberlin are from states like Wisconsin and New York, it's sweet to have a reminder of home in the form of my buddies from California.
When missing home, it's crucial to strike a balance between busy and too busy. At first, I flung myself into dozens of activities and didn't take much, if any, time to reflect and breathe. Now I try to spend a little time each day journaling, drawing, spinning aimlessly in a womb chair, or exploring campus. However, that's not to say that I'm overwhelmed with free time! In addition to homework, I'm a member of Students for Reproductive Freedom (SURF) and the OSlam poetry club, as well as a copy editor for The Oberlin Review. After only a few weeks, my friends are already involved in a myriad of activities, like improv groups, ExCos, acapella groups, volunteer work with kittens, and more. The amount of things to do at Oberlin is pretty mind-blowing—it's already clear that I'll never be bored here.
For that reason, many students never venture off campus. Sometimes it seems that there's simply no need to do so, as there's always a rockin' concert at the Cat or a new exhibit to see at the art museum. But, in my opinion, you don't know how good it feels to leave campus until you try it. Very popular among Oberlin students, as referenced earlier, is the Ginko Gallery downtown, which houses Community Action To Save Strays (CATSS) in the back. You can wander in anytime and cuddle with kittens for as long as you want! Ginko is fantastic and one of many reasons to explore this wonderful town in which we live. Every time I leave campus, even for a quick jaunt to CVS, I return feeling refreshed for what lies ahead.
There's a popular saying, along the lines of "Nothing worth doing is easy." While I'm inclined to say that this isn't always true, especially regarding the consumption of an entire bag of pretzels at 2am (easy and worth it), it seems more appropriate now than ever before. Change is hard. There will be tough days, uphill-battle days when I wonder what I'm doing here. But there will also be moments when I look across the dining hall to hear someone calling my name, a grin stretching across their face, or find myself in a professor's office discussing experiences and ideas previously unvoiced. There will be nights that I lie in Wilder Bowl and look at the moon, the same moon my family sees in California, and remember that this place is precious. This time is precious, and it'll only come once. The tough times couldn't be more worthwhile.