Oberlin Blogs

No Regrets

June 13, 2010

Alice Ollstein ’10

The following is a list of things I made sure to do during my four years at Oberlin, knowing that I would regret not taking the chance:

Art Rental: It took me until senior year to realize just how special the museum's Art Rental program, which rents great works of art to students for just 5 bucks a semester, truly is. I wrote about my experience this past fall camping out all night in order to snag a Goya and a Toulouse-Lautrec for my house. In past years, I just went in the morning to pick up a few pieces no one had taken, pieces that weren't famous but still beautiful. This was nice, but you have to camp out in the museum courtyard at least once for the full experience.

ObieGame: A semi-secret, campuswide, team-based scavenger hunt/puzzle/murder mystery held yearly by alums to distract Obies from their studies. The game runs for weeks, is insanely addicting, and the clues are so difficult only a small fraction of teams makes it to the final round. The winning team gets a bunch of money and serious bragging rights. This was the first (and only) year I participated, and though my team did pretty poorly, I still had a ton of fun meeting in secret to solve puzzles at 2 a.m. (Turns out the puzzles were just a decoy and the REAL game involved discovering that a new health-care database had become an autonomous robot, but oh well.) My advice: build a team with people who know music, pop culture, Oberlin trivia, and chess.

Special Meal: Being a head cook in a co-op is scary. You're cooking for 50-100 people with just a few helper cooks, limited ingredients, and hungry co-opers clamoring at the door. I don't know how how some people do it every week, and manage to create delicious, plentiful, and interesting meals every time. While I never had the courage to run for a head cook position, I did head cook several "special meals"--weekend meals where any co-oper can take over as head cook and plan a themed dining experience. I've planned and executed three: Roman Holiday, Tamale meal, and Alice in Wonderland meal. They were all time-intensive but incredibly fun. And it feels pretty good to hear that thunderous applause once people taste your creations.

Take a Writing Course: Even if you never thought of yourself as a writer. Even if you've never written creatively. The writing world at Oberlin is so varied and wonderful that it would be a mistake not to tap into it somehow. This could include taking a course in the Creative Writing or Rhetoric and Composition departments (some you need to apply for and some are open to all). This could mean writing for a campus publication, such as the Oberlin Review, the Grape, Wilder Voice, Headwaters or In Solidarity, where the student editors patiently work with you to make you a stronger writer. This could mean getting hired as a blogger and writing here as I do! Any way you can, jump on the bandwagon. It might feel intimidating and exclusive because of the high level of talent in professors and students, but in my travel writing class this past semester, we had science majors and conservatory students who had never written a personal piece and a few for whom English was not their first language, along with the more experienced writers and editors. All voices are welcome.

Take a Dance Class: It took me until this year to realize how incredible the dance department is at Oberlin. I took Modern I first semester and Modern II second semester, which I had to audition for. The professors were patient and hilarious and so passionate about dance, besides being incredible dancers themselves. It was also a relief to think with my body instead of my mind for once. I wish I had taken a class every semester, and gotten advanced enough to be a part of the many student shows we were required to see, such as Fall Forward, Spring Break, and the Oberlin Dance Company. There are also tons of dance opportunities outside the department, including big capoiera, tango, swing, and contra dance scenes, ExCos, and separate groups that do step, pop, and ballet. Can't find what you want? Start it yo'self!

Now, while there's nothing I wish I had done and didn't, there are things I wish I had done more. More dance classes, more ExCos (perhaps teaching an ExCo?), and more semesters in a co-op. Although as you've probably heard, Obies tend to cram their schedules so full that there isn't much time for more.

A final thought: When I got an e-mail from someone in my co-op inviting us to join the naked run in Mudd Library during finals week, I paused for a minute, wondering which I would regret more: running around the library naked, or NOT running around the library naked. I'm sorry to disappoint you all by announcing that my clothes stayed on.

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