Oberlin Blogs

# My last first semester

October 6, 2011

Sophia Chen ’12

I think the cardinal rule of blogging is probably the following: never blog when you feel like a crazy person.

I am breaking rules all over the place because I am drinking out of an uncovered container in the science library, and also, I am blogging, and I feel like a crazy person. But I haven't blogged in a long time, and I feel crazy all the time, so this was unavoidable.

Self-portrait with the iPod, modeling a spray-paint tie-dye T-shirt popular among high schoolers in the mid-2000s.

Why do I feel like a crazy person? I am a senior now. Oberlin, even with the all-nighters, the snowy Aprils, the death icicles looming on my roof, mouthfuls of saltless co-op lentils, has been nurturing me this whole time with arms wide open. Oberlin and I have been spooning for three and a half years, and I'm about to be kicked out of bed into a pair of knobbly hobbit-shoes. (In case this metaphor was unclear, the hobbit-shoes represent me getting into graduate school, me getting a job, me not failing like a failure.) In the meantime, while I ponder my future and pray every day that it is not a gaping abyss before me, I am taking the following classes:

1) Honors. I'm measuring several transitions of potassium using a laser frequency comb with Professor Jason Stalnaker this year as my honors project. Jason is an amazing adviser who simultaneously knows his business and how to explain it so that a college student in a 9:30 a.m. stupor can understand it. Also, he keeps fruit snacks in the lab.

Jason tames the laser.

2) Statistical Mechanics. This is a cool class where we learn about the physics behind large quantities of tiny things, like gas. (Like your mom's gas.) My problem set is due tomorrow. I am in the library eating the fingernails off my fingers instead.

Jenny is in my stat mech class. She looks very focused in this picture and might very well be working on the problem set that is due tomorrow. To make myself feel better about my problem set, I will maintain that she is probably on Facebook in this picture. I bet she is changing her status to something really lame.

3) Linear Algebra. Matrices are very attractive.

4) Jazz piano. I am flatting all my 9s and sharping my 11s and one of these days, I will become one of them jazz felines.

5) Jazz guitar. I didn't know how to play guitar at all until this summer, when I took some lessons in Hawai'i, and I've decided to continue my lessons here. My teacher, Conrad, is an awesome guy with a lot of patience. He's shown me a lot of cool new music, and I'm really enjoying lessons and practicing. Also, just as important, I look really cool when I play the guitar.

6) Introduction to Japanese Taiko. Taiko drumming is amazing fun for people who feel like crazy people because it involves beating on drums in a rhythmic and very cathartic way while shouting in a rhythmic and cathartic way. I'm doing a bad job of describing it. It is a very badass, as it combines movement with percussion. My friend Chloë co-teaches this class.

In other news, I'm going to take the physics GRE in less than two weeks, and I have to start applying to graduate school soon. I am going to refrain from talking about it so that I don't have to think about it right now.

P.S. I have peppered this blog entry with Creed references. Do young people today still know who Creed is? If you do, good for you. You get two metaphorical pork loins and a big bucket of real gravy. Please leave your e-mail address so I can get you your gravy.

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