A Good Place to Be
One of my colleagues posed this question to me: Have you been surprised by something at Oberlin? What unexpected thing did you discover here? Snow? Good-tasting vegetables? Stargazing on Mount Oberlin?
Surprises. Sure, I've had a few. Can't say I like surprises because my mantra is never let them see you sweat. I have this thing about composure and self-control. I try to have both.
What surprises me the most is the variety of things to do here.
I mentioned in an earlier post how I would have a hard time being an Oberlin student today and trying to decide what to attend or where to go because so many offerings appeal to my different interests. I equated it to going to a Baskin Robbins 31-flavors ice cream shop. Decisions. Decisions. And they are all good.
Although it's a small community, Oberlin has a movie theater, live opera, summer Shakespeare, student and professional jazz concerts, dance performances, a circus, a hymn fest.... I could go on and on.
I once worked in a small town in southeast Ohio, with a population of about 10,000. People in surrounding towns came there to shop, bank, buy groceries, eat at what they deemed were fine restaurants, get their vehicles repaired, even go to a house of worship.
But what about the social and cultural life? There were high school football games on Friday night, bowling and billiards at the uptown bar and grill, tractor pulls, and craft shows. I didn't stick around on the weekends unless the job required it. I drove to the nearest city for movies, jazz clubs, plays, concerts, bookstores, museums, lectures, the mall, casual restaurants, and parks. Pretty much the activities I wanted, that community didn't have.
Oberlin seems to be positioning itself as a destination city--a place people come to for dining, entertainment, and recreation. One thing that is lacking is professional sports. Cleveland is only a 45-minute drive away, but after last season, a trip there to see a baseball, basketball, or a football game would not be worth it.
I know students venture away from Oberlin occasionally. They probably have their reasons. Maybe they're visiting family or friends attending a nearby college, shopping in an eclectic neighborhood or upscale mall, or sneaking off to a Steelers game.
I suppose people venture away from Oberlin not because they have to, but because they want to. But from my point of view, Oberlin is a good place to be. Many of the things you might need for a full social and cultural life are right here.