Oberlin Blogs

My Mom Comes to Oberlin: A Visit in Pictures

November 21, 2019

Ilana McNamara ’24

I love college, but I love my mom even more, and I hadn’t seen her since my parents dropped me off at Oberlin in August. For one weekend a year, Parents and Family Weekend, parents and families can come visit their students in Oberlin, and the vibe on campus is very different because everyone is excited to show their parents and families what they have been doing all semester. This is not to say that parents and families can’t visit on any other weekend, or that campus life is boring most of the time (on the contrary!), but the difference is definitely palpable. This year, it was a little bit cold, but overall, a beautiful few days.  

A look down South Professor Street: blue sky, clouds, and trees
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood...


My mom flew in from Omaha and rented a car to drive out to Oberlin. I hadn’t realized how much I missed her until she actually got here!

My mom arriving to Oberlin and taking a suitcase out of her rental car
She's here!


There are lots of places to stay around Oberlin, and my mom particularly likes the variety of Airbnbs that can be found in the town. Her Airbnb host was a former Oberlin Conservatory composition professor, and the Airbnb had lots of cool plants!

My mom and her Airbnb host in a room filled with plants
My mom and her host, Jing Jing Luo


My mom brought me a suitcase full of Trader Joe’s snacks, and she also brought the blanket that she knit for my bed in college.

Me on my bed with my blanket in my dorm room
Thank you, mom!


We started our time together by going to my Friday afternoon string quartet rehearsal, and then walking around campus. It was really cool to show her some of my favorite spots that I’ve discovered in my time here, like the Asia House Library.

My mom at the Asia House library
Asia House = Hogwarts??


Later that night, I put on a recital for my mom. She hadn’t heard me play my viola since the summer, and I wanted to show off how much I’ve learned and improved. One of the perks of being a Conservatory student is that you have access to any performance space on campus at any time, for free. I was able to rent Kulas, one of the recital halls, and I had a mini recital for my mom! People in the Conservatory have a lot of fun making posters for their recitals and sticking them up on their friends’ instrument lockers, so I decided to do the same.

Me at my locker in the Conservatory with posters for recitals on it
I'm standin' at my locker, and all the boys keep stoppin' (not really).


I was able to play some of the pieces I’ve learned this year for my mom, and it was really nice to look out into the audience and see a lot of my new friends (and their parents) cheering me on! I was too focused on playing to get any pictures, but I’m really grateful that so many people came to support me. After my mini recital, my mom and I went to Hillel, one of the Jewish student groups on campus, to eat a traditional Shabbat meal. My mom got to meet Rabbi Megan, who I love studying with every week.

Hillel Jewish student group's Friday Night Shabbat meal in the Kosher-Halal Co-op


Then, we headed over to another Jewish student group, Chabad, for our second meal of the night. Chabad was very packed, and my mom got a taste of the crazy atmosphere that a whole bunch of students, plus the rabbi’s seven kids, brings every week. I couldn’t take any pictures, but after a lot of shmoozing and dressing up with the kids, it was time to go to bed. 

My mom and I met up the next morning and we walked around more of campus. It was another gorgeous day, and there were lots of colorful leaves papering the ground. 

Yellow ginkgo leaves on the ground
Ginkgo leaves!


We had Cleveland Bagel Company bagels (the stuff of Oberlin legend) at the Parents and Family Weekend breakfast in Wilder, the student union. My mom enjoyed getting a whole bunch of free Oberlin tchotchkes, including carabiner clips, stickers, and metal straws.

My mom with various free Oberlin swag
There are few things in life that make my mom as excited as some free swag.


The Office of Student Health was having a flu shot clinic, so I went to get my flu shot for free. Even though I’m 18 now, I’m still a little scared of needles, so it was really nice to have my mom there to hold my hand. I could have done it without her, but it made me feel really safe to know my mom will always be there to support me if I need it. 

My mom holding my hand as I get my flu shot
Thanks again, mom!


And of course, no trip to Oberlin would be complete without sitting in the iconic womb chairs in Mudd library.

My mom in a bowl-shaped womb chair in the library
I could spend HOURS in these chairs!


For lunch, we went back to Chabad to have a more chill Shabbat experience than the craziness that is Friday night. We got to take a refreshing walk through some of the woods in Oberlin to get there from J-House, where I live. 

My mom walking along a tree-lined path
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...


After a bit of practicing in the Conservatory, we ate a delicious dinner at one of the Mexican restaurants in town, Lupita’s. 

My mom across the table from me at Lupita's, a Mexican restaurant
Don't tell my mom, but the best part of Parents and Family Weekend is free food.


That night, we went to go see one of the many performing arts events that Oberlin has to offer, Benjamin Britten’s opera A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was a stellar performance, and it was really cool to have a live pit made up of Conservatory students! The costumes and sets were awesome, and the singers performed Britten’s masterpiece of a score wonderfully.

My mom holding up the opera program in the theater
We love opera!


My mom had to get on a flight early the next morning, so we said our goodbyes that night. 

My mom and I together


It was so much fun to show my mom around, and we didn’t even get to do everything, like eat a meal in my co-op, go to one of my classes, or explore the Allen Art Museum. I’m so lucky that my mom was able to come and visit me on Parents and Family Weekend, and I think she had just as positive an experience as I had!

Responses to this Entry

I was born and grew up in Oberlin and enjoy visiting every once in awhile. I have been looking for affordable airbnb / B n B options for a place to stay. Could you please forward information about the music professor who has rental space? Thank you.

Posted by: Janet Kretchmar on September 2, 2020 8:12 AM

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