Oberlin Blogs

One Wild Wednesday

November 14, 2020

Ricarda Hill ’24

When I was in high school, I enjoyed reading ‘‘Day in the Life’’ blog posts because I was deeply curious about what life in college was like. Of course, there’s no single “typical” day for any college student, much less an Obie.

However, sharing even a single day can give a snapshot into someone’s lived experience and may enable you to picture yourself on campus, whether or not you choose to take different classes or do different activities. Especially this year, where the college experience has been upended by COVID-19, I think it’s important to reassure prospective students of some sense of normalcy and routine in college. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it!

7:37 am. My alarm is set for 8 am but I don’t like waking up to the actual alarm, which I’m sure some will be able to relate to. Curiously, I usually wake up around 7:30 just to turn off the alarm and go back to bed for some peaceful slumber for another 15-20 minutes. 

8:15 am. I am lucky to live next to Stevenson Dining Hall, affectionately known as Stevie, so I sleepily stumble over to grab breakfast. Stevie offers a wide range of warm and cold options, and I usually end up going for scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes, or sausage, depending on what they are serving that day. Today, I opt for a bagel and cream cheese. 

9:00 am. I have an economics exam tomorrow, but let’s not pretend that I’m reviewing my notes while eating breakfast. I deliberately tried to avoid scheduling 9 am classes because I appreciate having an extra hour to wake up and feel like an actual person before class starts. Alongside, I’ll probably watch YouTube or documentaries on Arte, a European television network. Post-bagel, I practice German using the language app Babbel for about 20 minutes. Prior to 2020, I was a casual Duolingo-user, but I discovered Babbel this spring during quarantine when they offered a three-month free trial for students. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve kept it up for the last 6 months, and it has been rewarding to see the marked improvement in my language skills. 

10:10 am. I have my first class of the day: calculus! I took calculus in high school and enjoyed it, so I decided to level-up to college calc and give that a shot! Calculus is also a useful class for almost anyone intending to major in the natural sciences, economics, and computer science or someone who is on a pre-health track. Today, we’re learning about parametric equations, something that was touched upon in high school for me but not fully explored. I’m glad I decided to take this course instead of trying to skip ahead because it has helped to solidify topics that my high school self struggled to understand. 

11:20 am. My second class is chemistry. If I’m perfectly honest, this has been my most demanding class. This week, we’re trying to wrap our heads around the concept of molecular orbitals, something I definitely didn’t encounter in high school. Luckily, resources like OWLS exist, older students who have taken the same classes and offer review sessions with practice problems outside of class. It can be sometimes difficult to convince yourself to spend additional time figuring out how little you know about a subject but trust me, it’s worth it. 

12:30 pm. Chemistry class has ended, and I need to dash off to grab lunch. My economics professor is kindly holding office hours today from 12:00 - 1:00 pm to help us review for the exam tomorrow. 

The econ midterm review is in full swing and I log into the Zoom meeting while eating my lunch—that’s the nice thing about remote office hours! It’s true that I was initially hesitant to attend office hours because they didn’t exist in high school and it seemed intimidating. But office hours aren’t that bad. In my experience at Oberlin, the professors have been very friendly and approachable even if you aren’t meeting face-to-face. During econ office hours, I usually hang back and listen to other people’s questions, which helps me identify what I need to study. 

1:20 pm. But I can’t linger for too long! My 3-hour chemistry lab occurs once a week on Wednesdays and starts at 1:30 pm. Gotta run ... but luckily, not very far or fast. The Science Center, where many science labs are held, is less than a five-minute walk away from my dormitory building, Kahn. Today’s chem lab has been hyped up by the professor for the better part of a week, so I’m excited! 

Today, we did a ferrofluids lab. Do I really know what that means? Not entirely, but to the best of my knowledge, we synthesized magnetite nanoparticles and then formed a ferrofluid by coating the particles in a surfactant, allowing them to be suspended in water. It may sound complicated, but it was a quick lab and it was fun to play around with the magnetite at the end using magnets. 

Honestly, I was not initially looking forward to lab sessions, because I wasn’t confident in my ability to conduct experiments without a partner. Having done multiple on my own at this point, let me assure you that you’re not completely on your own. TAs and professors supervise the lab and help you carry out the experiment. Even so, it’s extremely empowering to finish a lab “by yourself” after you doubted your ability to do it, so just believe in yourself and know that you’re in good hands if you go astray. 

3:30 pm . After the lab ends, should I study for econ? Probably. 

5:30 pm. When the weather is pleasant, I try to make the effort of walking a couple laps around Tappan Square before meals, but I generally have more time to prioritize that before dinner. The fall colors are gorgeous shades of yellow, orange, and red, and they seem to brighten every day! Even getting outside for a few minutes on a gorgeous day like this makes me feel so much happier. 

6:00 pm. Dinner . . . and then more econ thereafter. 

From 7:30 - 9:00 pm , the Preying Manti Frisbee team is having a Disc/Diversity training session, based on the instances of police brutality and the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on BIPOC communities over the past summer that have underscored the racism so deeply ingrained in our society and have catapulted racial injustice into the national conversation, as well as concerns about diversity and inclusion in club sports, such as Frisbee. A team member arranged for us to have these monthly meetings, supplemented by weekly discussions in small groups. Not only is it a nice chance to meet all of my teammates, including the ones living off campus, but we are doing important work and are having difficult conversations to understand how we can make frisbee a more accepting community for all of its players. 

10:30 pm. I’m trying to wind down each night by reading instead of staring at my computer until the last minute. Sometimes I try to rationalize that I’m reading news articles online but let’s be real, there is a big difference between taking a break from screen time and curling up in bed with your favorite book. I definitely didn’t have the best balance of reading for fun outside of my assigned books for high school, but quarantine allowed me to prioritize reading for enjoyment. 

11:00 pm. I try to go to bed between 10:30 and 11:30, optimally on the earlier side, knowing that I’ll wake up at a similar time again in the morning. Creating and maintaining a routine has been helpful to my adjustment in college. One of the benefits of having my own room this year is being able to use the space however I want. I can sprawl out on my second “day” bed and listen to relaxing music. I can allocate one desk for school work and studying and the other desk for snacking on chips at night (also important!). After unboxing a package, I can leave the remnants strewn about on the floor and tell myself I’ll clean it up later.

Having my own space has allowed me to adjust to college while still feeling like I can be myself (and maintain particular habits that I may have to straighten out later when I actually live with someone else!). But self-improvement can wait until tomorrow, and with that, the lights are out and I’m out!

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