Oberlin Blogs

Knowing Me, Knowing You

October 31, 2011

Emily Wilkerson ’15

Hey everyone, welcome to my new Oberlin admissions blog! I'm Emily and I can't wait to start writing about my Obie-ventures. For this post, though, I'll introduce myself. I'm a first-year student from Niskayuna (it's pronounced phonetically), a suburb in upstate New York that's situated right in between the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers. However, I've started telling people that I'm from Schenectady (try pronouncing that) because some people have actually heard of it and I only live a mile from there. Since I like talking about my hometown, I'll give you a few fun facts.

  • Both Niskayuna and Schenectady have interesting etymologies. Niskayuna is based on Conistigione, a Native American word that means something along the lines of "extensive corn flats." Schenectady comes from the Mohawk name Schau-naugh-ta-da, which means something along the lines of "over the pine plains" or "beyond the pines."
  • General Electric was founded in Schenectady and there are still two GE facilities within a few miles of my house, including GE's Global Research Headquarters. Between GE and the Knolls Atomic Power Lab just up the hill, I grew up around a lot of scientists and future scientists.
  • If you're not interested in linguistics or science, there was also a movie starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper shot in my town this past summer that, appropriately enough, is titled Place Beyond the Pines. Some of the highlights of my summer were being an extra in the movie and on a separate occasion, seeing Ryan Gosling filming a bank robbery within a few blocks of my house.

Now that I've written a veritable essay about my hometown, I'll tell you a bit about myself. Even though I grew up around a lot of science-lovers, I am very much a humanities girl. My biggest passion is music, specifically singing. I've sung in as many choirs as I possibly could since elementary school and I started taking voice lessons when I was a freshman in high school. I also performed in my school's musicals, took AP music theory, and went to a few music camps. I've also dabbled in a few instruments, most recently the baritone ukulele (her name is Lailani, major points to anyone who can guess what I named her after).

If you hadn't already guessed, I also have a major love affair with language. I've always been a voracious reader and a constant writer. Although I could never seem to keep a steady journal going, I've had at least four blogs on a variety of subjects since middle school, not to mention a lot of mediocre (and occasionally some good) poetry and songs that will never leave my notebooks. I also love foreign languages. He estudiado Español por 7 años, ich habe Deutsch für ein Jahr studiert, et I don't know how to say this in Latin, but I studied linguam Latinam for two years (forgive me, it's been a while). I hope to take as many literature and foreign language classes as possible while I'm at Oberlin and I would love to study linguistics, which has always fascinated me (my linguistics-related questions always led to interesting tangents in my high school foreign language classes).

Right now, I'm planning on double majoring in Musical Studies and English, but that could change of course. Right now, I'm taking some great classes in a variety of subject areas.

Applied Studies 706 - Women's Ensemble

I had to do an audition to get into this class, but it was one of the most low-pressure auditions I've ever done. I always loved singing in choirs, and this class is no exception. Our director has done an awesome job of choosing diverse repertoire, which includes opera choruses from Carmen and Eugene Onegin, and Holst's Songs from the Rig Veda. Plus, I won't deny that it's an ego-boost to be in a choir with voice majors.

FYS 126 - Tolstoy's War and Peace

As you can probably tell, this is my first-year seminar (or FYS) and in the class we read, discuss, and write about War and Peace. I adore it. I had never read any Russian literature before, but I really enjoy Tolstoy's writing and the characters in W&P are fantastic. It's become a running joke among my hall-mates (shout-out to Ava and Conor who asked me to include them in this post!) that I am constantly reading W&P, but it's a 1200-page book, what else am I supposed to do?

Hispanic Studies 205 - Communication & Conversation in Spanish-Speaking Worlds

This class is pretty different from the average language class. Instead of grammar assignments and graded essays, we write blog posts about whatever we talk about in class (which has included self-portraits at the Allen, music and movies about the Colombian civil war, and José Reyes Ferriz, the ex-mayor of Ciudad Juárez), our lives, and our final projects, which we design ourselves. The only qualifications are that we must write often and speak with native speakers (using Skype or the Mixxer, a great website that connects people learning foreign languages) as much as possible.

Music History 101 - Introduction to the History and Literature of Music

Not to sound like a broken record, but I love this class. It's the perfect combination of nearly every discipline I love: obviously music and history are present, but there are splashes of literature, sociology, and the like. Plus, the homework is usually something along the lines of "listen to this piece by Handel/Bach/Beethoven and take notes," what could be better? We just finished our first unit, and next we're studying early music, which is going to be so cool!

Secondary Voice Lessons

Other bloggers have written about secondary voice lessons, but in case you're new to admissions blogging, secondary lessons are lessons for people who aren't majoring in a particular instrument and they're totally awesome. You can take them for credit (like I am) or you can take them for no credit. I lucked out by getting a really great student teacher and even though I've only had three lessons, the semester is looking pretty promising.

If you've read this far, you probably deserve a medal, but you've also learned some important things about me and (hopefully) a bit about Oberlin. I hope that you enjoy reading about my Obie-ventures as much as I enjoy having them!

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