Oberlin Blogs

Housing (or, new methods of procrastination)

February 21, 2009

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

My method of procrastination has recently started to evolve and mature. Now, I procrastinate from the work I should be doing (chemistry) by doing work for other classes (creative writing, literature) that should be done eventually, but not right at that moment. Incidentally, this post is also a form of procrastination from something else I should be doing, which is filling out my housing forms for next year. (Which is another form of procrastination from my actual class work.)

This year, I was lucky enough to be able to live in Asia House, one of the Program Houses. Asia House is (perhaps unsurprisingly) a community of people who share a common interest in Asia. Some of the people are Asian, or speak Chinese or Japanese, but there are also those who aren't and don't. But there's a common thread of interest there, and it all works out.

When I applied for Asia House last year, the form kept talking about community, and I wasn't really sure what it meant. Last year, I lived in a freshman dorm, which wasn't necessarily a bad experience, but also wasn't really what I'd call a "community." I'd say hello to people in the halls, but I wouldn't stop to chat. Was that a community? I wasn't sure.

I can say now that what you hear about Asia House's community isn't wrong. I stop to chat with people in the hall now. Some nights, we've had five or six people who've happened along, all sitting in the hallway talking. We don't get that many weird looks.

At any rate, now I have to fill out that application again, and come up with good answers to those questions about community again. This time I actually have examples of community, like the time I brought back most of a pizza, and didn't even think twice about e-mailing everyone telling them to eat it, or the time when the Chinese Students Association was spray painting lanterns in the courtyard and people opened windows or came out to see what was going on. (It must have looked pretty odd--all those mini lanterns hanging from tree limbs and about five of us with cans of spray paint looking like members of a graffiti ExCo, but you get my point.)

I also have to write about what activities I've helped out with, which means I have to remember them all. The one that comes to mind first is the last one that happened--the Masquerade Ball. Some people, including my roommate, worked especially hard putting the event together, and it turned out very well. Pieces of fabric and Christmas lights helped to create a magical atmosphere in the two lounges.

photo courtesy of Jiayu Lin

Maybe what I should try to do now is actually write about these things for the application...

Responses to this Entry

How are the showers there? One of the first things I heard about Oberlin was that many of the dorms had group [co-ed/not] showers. Does anyone care to blog about that? I think it might have an assuasive effect upon parents and prospectives.
Anyways, personally I was just wondering which dorms/co-ops/houses had non-group showers, whether there are curtains, and which dorms/c/h are best to live in, I guess.
I'm really not a Puritan, I promise.

Posted by: Christine on April 7, 2009 12:27 AM

First off, sorry for the late reply - I missed it in my inbox. But I shall reply now.

I'll try to write a longer entry about this later (since that's a really good idea), but I'll answer your questions right now.

So far, I've lived two places: Dascomb and Asia House. Each semester/year, your hall or dorm votes and decides whether or not they want the bathrooms to be gender neutral. There are variations on this, for example, the toilets can be gender neutral all the time and the showers can be male/female specific at certain times of the day. It depends on what everyone feels comfortable with. In Dascomb, we voted to have gender neutral bathrooms. I never really found it a problem - there were shower curtains and individual shower stalls, so that wasn't an issue.

This year in Asia House, I'm living on Women's Hall, and we voted to have our bathroom females only. It's been pretty much the same for me as it was last year. There are individual shower stalls, with curtains.

There are some dorms/co-ops out there that don't have individual showers (Harkness, I believe), but I'm not sure which ones they are. My guess, though, is that you'll be safe in any of the traditional dorm housing, and it's only where co-ops are concerned that there would be a question.

Posted by: Zoë on April 10, 2009 9:55 AM

Thanks for answering! It's reassuring, as long as I can get traditional housing...
I've decided on Oberlin :) and now I'm trying to choose a dorm.

Would you think that Asia House is limiting to freshmen because they come in contact with less diversity/can fall back on something comfortable and consequently not venture out of their comfort zone? Also, do most residents mainly speak Mandarin/Japanese/Korean/etc or mostly English? Can you choose which wing (women's only or both)?

Posted by: Christine on May 10, 2009 7:32 PM

Hmm, that's an interesting question. I'm inclined to say no, it's not limiting at all, but of course that depends on the freshmen to some extent. Still, it's not like you spend all your time in the dorm - you interact with people from your classes, you interact with people you met during orientation week. Looking at the freshmen currently living in Asia House, I don't think having a comfortable place was a bad thing, and for me personally, it would probably have made adjusting to college a bit easier. Again, that's just my take on things.

As for what language people mainly speak, it's definitely English. There are, of course, plenty of opportunities (i.e. people you can talk to) to speak various Asian languages, if you're looking for something like that, but it's not required at all. Asia House is more about Asian cultures than languages, unlike, for example, French House.

About choosing which wing to live in, you can definitely do that after your freshman year. I'm not entirely sure how it works before that, though. My best advice is to write what your preference is on the application where it asks if there are any other things that should be taken into consideration. (That's the last question, if I'm not mistaken.)

Posted by: Zoë on May 10, 2009 9:14 PM

I've read a few blogs, and... frankly, I'm a little... shocked, at how little about college I know. I've been thinking about Oberlin, and a few other colleges, but the more I look at it, the more I like Oberlin. I just still haven't decided yet... hehehe... can't procrastinate too long, now can I (doesn't mean it won't just... say... happen...)

Anyways, the more I read and the more I find out, the more interesting things become. I have a love of language, (even if I do find some of them EXTREMELY (forgive the all caps but, it is just to stress a point) frustrating) especially some of the asian languages, and the langauges of my heritage. Even though the hall may not be focused on language, but on the culture and history of the places, isn't heritage and culture what makes the langauge what it is? English, German, Japanese, and maybe another langauge or two... language makes history, and though, learning five or more languages may be excessive, why not?
~~~ Luca (Junior, High School - Darn...)

Posted by: Luca on May 13, 2009 8:58 PM

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