When I was applying to college, I had several city schools and large universities on my list, but back then, it never really occurred to me how much the idea of having space would mean to me. Once you get to college, suddenly everything is communal, and I think finding that sense of "okay, here is a place where I can be alone for a bit" has been important to me and is something that I truly value having here at Oberlin.
Here are some of my favorite places to go when I need my space:
1. The Arb
The Arb is by far my favorite place to go when I need to get away or just take a little bit of time for myself. It is absolutely gorgeous, especially in the fall. Coming from the suburbs of Chicago and having lived in the Midwest my entire life, living closer to nature is something I've always yearned for, so it's at least really nice to have this wonderful place minutes from my dorm.
It can even be a nice study spot...if you enjoy the wind snatching your papers, ladybugs on your laptop screen and slightly uncomfortable seating. But when the wind rattles the trees in the fall and all the leaves start pouring down from the sky, it's completely worth it, I promise.
2. Tappan Square
Tappan Square is a lovely place to walk through, especially in the fall. There are a couple of swings that are nice to read on. When it's warm out, there are always people seated around the Arch, studying, hanging out, or making music.
When I need to study:
In psychology, I learned that the more you change setting, the better you will remember information because you're able to associate that information with the setting you studied it in, so I like to change up my environment.
To the top left is a picture from the window seat in the psychology building. Not only is it a comfortable place to sit and do work, but it's also perfect place for both people-watching and taking contemplative "staring out at the world beyond the window" photos.
To the top right is the second floor of the conservatory library. I love studying here when I need a truly silent place to study. But be careful, because the silence is so relaxing that it has certainly become the perfect place to fall into an accidental slumber and miss my next class.
On the bottom left is a picture from the conservatory sky bar, a space that hangs between the top floor of the Kohl building and the central conservatory building. It can be a wonderful, bright place to study and usually isn't exceedingly crowded. You can see it from outside in this picture here:
And on the bottom right – no. Blanket wrapped around you curled up in bed next to the window may seem like a nice way to study, but at least for me, this situation inevitably ends in the accidental nap.
When I need to practice:
1. Bibbins classrooms
The Robertson practice rooms are great, especially since the school has 230-something Steinway grand pianos. However, my favorite place to practice is in the Bibbins classrooms when they're not being used, where it's much quieter, the pianos are even nicer, and I always get a beautiful view through the gorgeous conservatory windows.
2. The practice rooms
That being said, the practice rooms are also a lovely place to be, and when you compare Oberlin's practice rooms to the practice rooms at a lot of other music conservatories, I think ours are pretty nice! Because there are windows in each of them, I never feel cooped up or trapped.
The bottom two photos are taken from organ/harpsichord/fortepiano/clavichord practice rooms. Because I'm taking secondary organ lessons, I have access to these rooms, and I spent a good part of my first month here exploring all the keyboard instruments Oberlin has here.
When I'm not busy practicing/studying:
1. The concert halls
There is always a constant stream of performances, and it gets to the point where the options are overwhelming and I truly have to pick and choose. Seeing performances make my days so much better and enriches my life as a musician and as a human being. The pictures above are from Finney Chapel, which is a gorgeous space, as are all of the other concert/recital halls.
I'm sure people have written about Ginko's all over the blogs, but I love visiting the kittens fostered in the back of Ginko's Gallery. Who doesn't want to pet cats when they're stressed? Okay, if you're allergic, I understand but...
Chocolate-covered caramel-topped Oreos? Tell me that doesn't sound amazing? I have to stop myself from spending money here.
Other places that add to the lovely Oberlin aesthetic
1. The Koi pond
Despite the fact that some funky stuff got into the koi pond this year, which finally got cleaned out, the koi pond next to the conservatory usually looks gorgeous like this and yeah okay I just really like it.
2. All these buildings
The buildings and houses in Oberlin are quite beautiful and historic. The picture on the left is one of the dorms, Talcott, which looks all too much like Hogwarts. The picture on the right is of the Oberlin community music school, where I sometimes go to do piano lesson observations for my piano pedagogy class.
Okay not really. Even though Stevie -- the dining hall -- has acceptable food, it is not actually one of my favorite places on campus unless I'm really hungry, BUT this smiling watermelon I found there really really really just wanted to be in this post.
These are only a handful of places I enjoy in Oberlin, but there are so many more. All in all, this little town of Oberlin in the middle of a cornfield may not be New York City or LA, but I think it's a wonderfully pleasant place to be.