Oberlin Blogs

Parallel Universes

June 10, 2009

Ma'ayan Plaut ’10

I have just passed the two week point of being home for the summer. And since this is an Oberlin blog, this is about what's different at my summer home and my Oberlin home.


At Oberlin this past semester, I had a fabulous roommate named Harris. He was the best. Next fall, I will be living with my pals Sneha, Melissa, and Chris in a pretty little house. The kitchen is great, it's cozy, and has a fireplace.

At home, we rent the top part of an ohana (for those of you unfamiliar with Hawaiian, ohana means family, or in the case of houses, a second-floor ranch-style house with a small apartment on the first floor). This summer we are populated by my dad Woody, my mom Aviva, and my brother Ben, and until next week, our foreign exchange student Aziza, from Kyrgyzstan. The Oberlin connection here... my dad is a 1971 alum, and my brother will be (crossing my fingers) applying to Oberlin in the fall.

Sleeping Arrangements:

If you live in a dorm in Oberlin (or pretty much any school, actually. To me, there is no other school than Oberlin), you will have a twin XL bed. What you need to know about this: Twin XL need special sheets. The others won't fit. I've tried. I've spent three years in those beds, and lucky me, I have a queen sized bed in my house next year. I know I'm a small person, but I like rolling over and having a cool place that isn't the floor.

At home, I used to have a twin futon, but my brother nabbed that the second I went to college. I have a queen-sized bed here, too. It's big. I'm small. I can roll over three times and still not be on the floor. For some reason, my sleeping schedule has also gotten all flipped around, and I've been falling asleep by 11pm and waking up before 9am. Strange.

Tasty Delicacies:

I've spent three years in Harkness co-op, following in my dad's Harkie footsteps, and spent a fair amount of time cooking there. When you want to cook for yourself, however, the cooking implements aren't necessarily in your favor. There's a pot in that kitchen that I could take a legitimate bath in. Not so much fun when you want to make yourself some pasta, but great if you want to make soup for 100.

At home, standard fare is similar to Harkness food, a diet relatively heavy in vegetables, legumes, and rice, but we supplement our meals with fish and chicken sometimes too. The squishiness of these products prior to and during the cooking process is one of the reasons I love cooking in Harkness, but if someone else prepares it, I'm okay with eating it. We have an electric stove, which isn't as ideal for maintaining cooking temperatures, but at least we have small pots and pans.

There's another food carry over from Oberlin, and those are adjective sandwiches, but I'll get to that in another post. It's a very long story.


One thing you should seriously consider when living in Oberlin, is getting a bike. Seriously. Do it as soon as you can. I was given a bike in January, but got so incredibly busy that I never got to fix it. I got some stuff done over commencement and I'm looking forward to cruising around this next year. That said, Oberlin is a great walking town as well as a biking town, and I know campus well, as do my feet. Things are close. It's lovely.

At home, it's too steep and too far to walk pretty much anywhere. We have friends that live one street over, and that's close enough to walk, but my hill is 17% grade, not so fun to walk or bike up. I drive while I'm at home, but I don't have much to do outside the house this summer. I'm actually working at home this summer, which brings me to my next difference...


At school, I have a laundry list of jobs. I won't get into it, but I'm all over the place. I spend as much time working as I do in class while in Oberlin, and I love it. That pace of life I live at Oberlin slows down quite a bit when I get home.

In past summers, I worked in bakeries and restaurants, but this summer, I'm working for Oberlin, but at home. I haven't fully started yet, but it should be very fun. I'm also aiding a former high school teacher of mine with some image related work, teaching her the basics of image and video editing to teach her students. Two jobs versus eight... it's a break, really.


At school, my computer is focused more towards academic related materials, but like many other students, it's also a form of procrastination. I don't really need to explain this, because I think you all know what I'm talking about.

This summer, all my work is computer related, so my breaks, or my "procrastination" has to be non-technology related. I've been reading a bunch, pulling out art supplies every so often, learning how to use some new camera equipment, and cooking.


Not that I have much free time in Oberlin, but there are a few fun options while at school. The Apollo Theater (now with midnight showings!) shows relatively up-to-date movies for two or three dollars depending on the day. Mudd library has plenty of pleasure reading, for, you know, all the free time you'll have between classes. The Oberlin Public Library has lots of books, as well as music and movies, and they give you a few more days to watch and listen to them than campus libraries.

Summer gives me the perfect opportunity to read, read, read. My dad is a librarian at the high school I graduated from, and I take out stacks upon stacks of books for the few months I'll be home. So far I've read The Evolution of Desire and an autobiography called I Remember, and I started Everything is Bad for You this morning. I'd recommend all of them. In terms of movies, we have a tiny home theater in our living room, and project movies on our wall. It sure beats watching movies on my computer.


Birthday parties in Oberlin are friendly, raucous affairs. The friends that like to bake make cookies or cake, and all your pals gather in a lounge, outside, or in an off-campus house. My birthday is sandwiched between two of my close friends, and it's during commencement week. My friend Eliza made us three dozen celebratory cupcakes, and we gathered in the bandstand in Tappan Square following Illumination, the lighting of hundreds of strung Japanese lanterns the night before graduation. It was delicious. After those, I was presented with a huge strawberry shortcake that had to wait until the next day for consumption.

At home, birthday parties tend to be small, with an extravagant dessert affair. My mom will make any birthday dessert we choose, no arguments. This meant we ended up with a marshmallow fluff cake for my brother's birthday once, though his taste has been refined since. My dad's a chocoaholic, and I tend to lean towards fruity pies and souffles.

Well, I'm home. There's probably even more to add to this, but that's a short condensed version of things. Life gets different when you switch time zones and climates.

Oh, pictures:

The view from my Hawaii windows.

The view from my Harkness room.

Similar Blog Entries