Oberlin Blogs

From Quiet Floor to Asia House

February 29, 2016

Jules Greene ’19

New semester, new classes, and a new dorm for me. I now live in Asia House! Besides the part where I had to move all of my things out of my old room and into my new room all on my own within the span of two days (my biceps doubled in size), I'm very happy to be living in this beautiful, old building. This comes a bit as a surprise, as I am no longer living on the designated Quiet Floor in Burton, and I was afraid I was going to have issues focusing at first in a non-quiet space, but my experiences thus far have disproved my worries.

I applied to live on Quiet Floor last year because I can't stand unnecessary noises when I'm trying to work. Things like people clicking very loudly on their laptops and aggressively pressing the "Enter" key as if they are playing a conga drum drives me nuts--to the point where I can't focus on anything other than the noise that they're making. Unfortunately, because I was living in a double, this is exactly what I found myself dealing with on a daily basis. What was most difficult about Quiet Floor was that because Burton is located on the north side of campus, away from the central traffic arteries through town, there's not a whole lot of "buffer" between extraneous environmental noises (cars driving past, the general hum of human activity that I'm used to living in back in New York) and distracting noises that force me to do my homework in the ambiance of the laundry room so I don't lose my focus (the aforementioned clicking). While it was nice that everyone was pretty much silent in the hallways at all times, the isolation of living on the top floor of Burton began to work against me, and I wasn't aware of the extent of it until later on.

Midway through the first semester, I put myself onto the housing wait list and listed Asia House as my number one choice. I chose Asia House for a variety of reasons, but for brevity's sake, I felt that it was a good fit for me as an Asian American (you don't have to be of Asian descent to live in Asia House, you just have to have an interest in East Asian Studies or Asian American history), and I thought that I would want to live here next year, so giving myself the opportunity to live here this year would perhaps give me a head start in figuring out if it was a good match for me. Asia House also happens to be a gorgeous building, and if you think way back to when I expressed the importance of good architecture in my living and learning environments, this is an offer I can't refuse.

One of my favorite things about living in Asia House is the feeling that I am not living in a remote bubble like that plastic prison cell that the United States government keeps Magneto in in X2, the second X-Men film. For those of you that didn't understand the very specific reference I just made, I mean to say that I have enjoyed the feeling of community and connectedness with the outside world in my new abode. From my place at my desk as I write this, I can hear the bell from Finney Chapel chime quite loudly at each hour, as well as general human activity and the putting of engines when I am not listening to The Stooges. My current living situation more closely matches that of what I'm used to at home, where there's always a little something going on around me. I have come to realize that I prefer this soundscape over complete silence, because silence just increases the nuisance of little noises and the screaming that would go on behind Burton and in front of Langston. There is the occasional brouhaha that occurs in front of my window in the courtyard behind Fairchild Chapel, but it isn't any different than the sounds I hear from persons yelling from the sidewalk outside my apartment building in New York. It is much more bearable than hearing people with drastically different biological clocks than mine acting like atonal wolves collectively brouhaha-ing to the moon when I'm trying to go to sleep.

Not living on Quiet Floor anymore has also led to a more relaxed life within my living circumstances, with regard to noise. At this very moment, I am listening to "Apple Blossom" by The White Stripes from my laptop without any headphones in, which is something I would've never done on Quiet Floor for fear of irritating my floor mates. While I am certainly cognizant of respecting my floor mates here in Asia House, I no longer have to conduct my life at the volume of a mouse (until quiet hours commence at 11 PM each weeknight). As an actor, this was inconvenient for when I wanted to rehearse a monologue, because I wouldn't be able to practice it quite the same way as I would perform it. Thus, my move into Asia House couldn't be at a better time, because I actually just got cast in an Oberlin Student Theater Association (also known as OSTA) production of Caryl Churchill's play Love and Information, and I am relieved beyond words that I won't have to whisper my lines to myself when I'm practicing them.

My only problem with Asia House thus far is that it lacks a television with a remote. Yesterday when I dashed back here to watch the Oscars, I was digging around the TV lounge for five minutes trying to find the remote until I just ran (yes, RAN) to various dorms on north campus until I found an unoccupied TV. Coincidentally, I ended up in Burton again. But I suppose this isn't too bad considering I only ever actively watch television on special occasions, such as the recent X-Files revival and the Oscars.

So even though I live in a much smaller room now than the one I had in Burton, I am much happier with where I am. I actually prefer the smaller room, it's much cozier, and because I have lofted my bed to fit my wardrobe underneath, I feel like Catwoman every morning when I have to climb down from it. The library that's located practically next to my room is also a gorgeous space to do work in, as well as a place where I can open a book or two and read about various topics in East Asian Studies. I feel even more lucky to be where I am, as I'm sure you've been able to discern from my choice of words throughout this post. But truly, though, I look forward to learning more about the community here in Asia House and expanding my knowledge of topics in East Asian Studies and Asian American history as the semester goes on!

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