Oberlin Blogs

Over the Hill

May 9, 2023

Ariel Roberts ’25

It’s official. My second year is almost over, and I now have more time at Oberlin behind me than I have time ahead of me. Based on how unbelievably fast these past two years have gone (in some ways I still feel like a first-year!), I know my time as an upperclassman will be over before I know it. Now is the time to not just grind through my classes towards each weekend, but cherish every second I have at Oberlin. I’ve been spending my last few days of the semester with this in mind, taking some much needed breaks from studying by doing things I haven’t done in Oberlin before. The memories I’ve made are just tugging my heartstrings even more… What am I gonna do when I’m a fourth-year?

On the last day of classes I decided to celebrate by going to Opera Scenes I, a final exhibition by the Opera Workshop 300 class. There have been lots of opera concerts by the vocal majors, but I hadn’t gotten a chance to go to them even though I really wanted to enjoy their beautiful singing. Now I finally got to, and it was an especially fun set of performances. The students put on various scenes from operas with incredible vocal flair. I couldn’t help but think “this is why I love going to Oberlin” as the students showcased their incredible talent and also vibrant humor, the scenes often silly, bold, and interactive. It made me miss when I did musical theater in high school as I watched how much fun the performers were having. I definitely need to go to more opera and musical theatre shows!

Bobalin Cafe
Photo credit: Ariel Roberts

The next day started sweet as a new student-run boba shop, Bobalin Cafe, held a pop-up table outside Wilder. My friend and I were glad we got there early, because soon the line curved all the way down the sidewalk and the boba was already running low. It was honestly some of the best boba I’ve tasted; the boba pearls had a strong brown sugar taste and were the perfect amount of chewy, and the milk tea was nice and smooth and not overpowering.

Kittens at Ginko Gallery
Photo credit: Ariel Roberts

As we sipped our drinks, my friend and I made our way to the Ginko Gallery to pet the rescue kittens. The Ginko Gallery is an art store in downtown Oberlin that, yes, has kittens, so it’s the best art store in the world. Petting the kittens is often a rite of passage for prospective Obies visiting the campus or first-years just moving in, and also a perfect stress reliever during finals, so the store always gets lots of traffic at the bookends of the semester. I’d actually never pet the kittens before; I was usually too nervous to ask, and the one time I did when my sister visited, they unfortunately didn’t have any. I had no reason to be nervous, though, because the shop owner is extremely kind — she gave my sister and me fuzzy plants to make up for the lack of soft kitten fur — and the kittens are always happy for the attention.

Black kitten at The Ginko Gallery
Photo credit: Ariel Roberts

When my friend and I headed to the back of the store, we were greeted by a multitude of tiny, wide-eyed kittens, either snuggling up for a nice nap or playing with their siblings. Only two cats were able to actually be touched because the rest weren’t vaccinated, and we happily entered the playpen to pet them. I absolutely fell in love with a fluffy black kitten as it wrapped its paws around my hand while I rubbed its tummy. I want so badly to adopt it, but my mom is severely allergic, so I unfortunately can’t. I’m comforted to know, though, that whenever I need my dose of fluffy kitten love, I know where to go!

Oberlin Frank Lloyd Wright House
Photo credit: Ariel Roberts

This Sunday was the first Sunday of the month, an exciting day as it is when Frank Lloyd Wright’s Weltzheimer/Johnson House is open to the public. I had wanted to go on a tour of the house so badly last year, but never got a chance. This time I resolved that I had to go before I went home for the summer. I have a particular interest in Frank Lloyd Wright since I’m from River Forest, Illinois, which is adjacent to Oak Park, both of these suburbs just outside of Chicago and home to much of his work. A couple of his houses I pass all the time since they are on blocks next to where I live, and sometimes in the summer we’ve seen tours of his houses starting on the corner of our block. My mom always says that her dream house is his Isabel Roberts house, one I often see when walking my dog. She says it’s perfect for us since it's literally the “Roberts” house, but unfortunately it is much too expensive!

Bedroom in Oberlin Frank Lloyd Wright House
Photo credit: Ariel Roberts

Because of this personal connection, I was super excited to get to visit the house in Oberlin. It’s a little bit of a trek from campus to get there if you don’t have a car or bike, but the weather was perfect — sunny but not sweltering — so I greatly enjoyed the exercise and fresh air. I ended up arriving at the house early and had some time to explore before the tour started. I marveled at the full wall windows that brought in lots of natural light and the careful crafted sillhouettes. The tour guides explained the history behind the house, with it first being built for the Weltzheimer family in 1948, then owned by another family, and finally owned and restored by Ellen Johnson, an art professor at Oberlin who actually started the art rental program! One of my favorite things about Oberlin is the importance we place on art, expression, and creativity, the Allen Memorial Art Museum that now owns the house a clear example of this. Hearing some of the visitors talk about how they drive across states to visit these houses made me realize how lucky I am to not just live in a town with so much of his work, but to also go to a school where I can visit one of his houses free of charge! I’m going to encourage all of my friends to see it, and hopefully will get a chance to bring my family there one day.

Inside of Oberlin Frank Lloyd Wright House
Photo credit: Ariel Roberts

As I walked to the house, before I even saw the masterful work itself, I kept ooh-ing and ah-ing at all the cute houses in the town. I couldn’t help but think that once I graduate, I might have to settle down and move here! It’s even hard just to go home for the summer even though I know I’ll come back; Oberlin’s truly become my second home. I do miss my family a lot, though, and know I’ll be glad to be back with them. Maybe I’ll just have to drag them here with me!

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