The Oberlin summer semester has begun. Only second- and third-years roam around campus, and for the first time ever I am living in Kahn. I’m here to provide an insider perspective into the dorm that is unclouded by combined adrenaline and confusion that could cloud a freshman’s judgment. Normally, Kahn is a sustainability dorm devoted to freshmen, but in this strange semester, it has been opened up to any student. The following review will begin with first impressions, then focus on my room. I plan on ending with the thing I loved most in this big brick building and in a moment of true honesty, the things I like least.
First impressions: The words haunted hotel certainly come to mind. Hotel because Kahn is the newest dorm on campus, and was outfitted with amenities like TV rooms, a game room, a dance studio, and a massive kitchen. Each floor has a kitchenette and a sunny study space. Haunted, on the other hand, came to mind because of the quietness of the space. The doors reach floor to ceiling in the hall, and with no one milling around, the first feeling that stuck me was almost eerie. The freshman flurry that probably usually exists in the hallways is not replaced by very quiet second- and third-years who spend most of their time in their rooms with their friends or outside of the dorm completely.
Things I love most: Free laundry at the actual full-sized laundromat. Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but to come from the singular laundry machine of Harkness to the clean Kahn laundry room filled with cubbies, washers, and dryers feels like waking up from a really long necessary nap. Laundry at Oberlin is free!! I feel like nobody ever really talks about this, but in every dorm nobody is paying for laundry, and in the long run we’re probably saving a huge amount of money there. Logistically that also means you never have to worry about lining up your laundry schedule for when you have money; if you have a little free time nothing is stopping you from fully washing your bedsheets, or all your clothes. I also love Kahn’s location. Waking up across from North Quad and directly next to Stevie (the main dining hall), I’ve never felt more compelled to actually pull myself out of bed and eat breakfast in college. Turns out a little yogurt mixed with berries and granola goes a long way when you’re going to class and working from 9-5. Finally, the Kahn bathrooms are unmatched. I think the best description would be if hotels had communal dorm bathrooms. That said, if it’s not your day to be in a communal space, each floor also has a single bathroom that anyone can use.
I love my room! Because of COVID, the college assigned double-sized dorm rooms to single occupants. That means when I arrived, two beds, two desks, two shelves and two closets were waiting for me. With a couple days of intensive manual labor and three friends I managed to loft the beds, push them together into a massive king-sized square, and shove half the furniture underneath. I can’t imagine the monstrous task of retrieving that furniture at the end of the semester, but my mega bed now feels like a lofted treehouse and I have room to do at least one cartwheel. Making my living space a place I really enjoy spending time in is important to me, so with a rug and the comfiest thrifted armchair in America I’ve started making my room feel more like a little home. My far wall is painted a dark blue, and a tall window opens up in the center of it to reveal two giant leafy green trees. Like a true college student I’ve haphazardly taped and command hooked christmas lights everywhere, and though the room is large, with all the lights on at night it has the coziness of a lovely cave. Though the college is turning the rooms back into regular doubles in the fall, Kahn rooms are definitely spacious, even for two people.
Finally, my room wouldn't be complete without the beautiful Kahn breeze, generated by the air conditioning units built into every room. Yes, you read correctly, air conditioning. In the suffocating humidity of the Ohio summer, I’m especially grateful to close my window, turn on my Christmas lights, and bask in the air. In fact, if you walked into my room right now there’s a chance you might find me sprawled on the rug, simply appreciating the air conditioning.
Things I don’t love the most: I don’t want to end this blog post on a sour note, but as you're reading this I’m sure you’re wondering how much of it is true. Living in a dorm can’t be that perfect. Though everything I’ve said so far is true, there are a few things I should mention to make this a truly holistic review. This summer, the hallways are almost silent. When I first moved in I was actually convinced no one else lived in my hall, which further convinced me that Kahn is a haunted hotel. Only during a fire drill, when everyone had to walk outside at 10am, did I realize my hall, and the entire dorm, was full of students. As a freshman dorm, Kahn is much more lively. I think the air conditioning mixed with the excitement to make friends and meet new people really brings the place to life. Filled with second- and third-years, on the other hand, the hallways fall silent, and while it’s not my favorite thing in the world, a little peaceful hallway silence never hurt anybody.
I’ll finish this post by describing a truly collegiate showering experience. Imagine turning on a shower and being immediately disappointed by the water pressure. The disappointment is not enough to stop you from showering, but it’s definitely felt. The water in Kahn does randomly become hot and cold, but I will also say that I’ve had far worse showers. I’ve developed a personal theory about the water temperature. Since Kahn is a sustainability dorm, I imagine that when the water becomes freezing, it’s actually the dorm urging me to take shorter showers and stop wasting water. The bathrooms themselves are so tiled and spacious that one can almost forget that they are showering in semi-lukewarm water. Though the showers leave a bit to be desired, I also believe terrible showers are a quintessential college experience.
Though this ended up being a little bit of a love letter to Kahn, I hope it gave you all a little insight into summer living at Oberlin, or dorm living in general.