Oberlin Blogs

Reflecting on Winter Term + Intentions for a New Semester & Year

January 31, 2024

Yuhki Ueda ’24

I cannot believe that Winter Term (and my fifth and final one at that!) has already come to an end. Let’s dive into a recap of my month. 

For winter break and through the first week of Winter Term, I was in Japan to see my family and a good friend (who recently graduated from Oberlin!). Although my stay there was relatively short and I felt sad to leave, it was also nice to have more alone time to reflect on the past year and to recharge once I returned to Oberlin. I was definitely hit hard by jet lag for the first two weeks back, but I slowly found myself adjusting to a slow-paced and fulfilling routine characteristic of my past Winter Terms. In my experience, Winter Term has always been a time of not just rest and relaxation, but also steady and meaningful progress in the work that I choose to do (e.g., practicing piano), as well as a great time to connect with friends without the stress of classes and other responsibilities weighing on us. I have spent pretty much all of my Winter Terms here in Oberlin, and it is a time when everything seems to slow down just a little, in the best way. 

Spending time with friends!

One of the intentions I set for myself for the year of 2024 is to move more. I want to find a variety of fun ways to incorporate movement into my routine, whether that’s through impromptu solo dance parties in my room while listening to music I love, taking more walks and running outside as the weather begins to warm up, maybe renting a bike so I can go cycling, going rock climbing, as well as going to the gym more regularly. I did end up going to the gym with some friends several times during Winter Term, which was very fun! It has felt good to challenge myself and to become more confident navigating the gym (which I used to find very intimidating!). I hope to establish a more regular routine as we transition into the spring semester. I also took some walks to the Arb with a couple of friends this month. It was definitely cold and at times, very snowy, but Arb walks always end up being refreshing and an opportunity to catch up and have a good conversation with a friend. 

A couple of friends and I also established somewhat of a tradition this Winter Term. Pretty much every night for a little over a week, I would go over to my friends’ house and we would watch a Studio Ghibli movie. We ended up watching Castle in the Sky, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Whisper of the Heart, The Cat Returns, Ponyo, Porco Rosso, Kiki’s Delivery Service, From Up on Poppy Hill, Arrietty, and The Wind Rises! Whisper of the Heart and Kiki's Delivery Service, in particular, have a special place in my heart. :') My friends and I would sometimes have dinner together as well, or share snacks, and these nights became a comforting way to unwind, connect, and end our days. I grew up watching Ghibli movies, so this nightly routine always left me feeling very nostalgic and it was, no doubt, one of the highlights of my Winter Term. 

Progressing toward my goals

Throughout Winter Term, I also spent time working on research projects for my Psychology lab, which I think I made good progress on that will help set me up well for the work I hope to accomplish during the spring semester. I also worked on learning a piano concerto I hope to perform sometime in the spring! After discussing my goals and intentions for the upcoming semester with my piano teacher, we decided that it would be a good idea to work towards putting on a final recital before I graduate in May. At first, I felt hesitant about this decision because of my past experiences with performance anxiety, and because I was worried that I would not have enough time to prepare for a recital. However, I realized that this would be a great goal to work toward, and a great opportunity to give myself one final push before I leave the Conservatory setting and make the most of the resources I currently have access to here that I might not have after I graduate since I don’t plan to continue pursuing higher education in music. 

Speaking of postgraduate plans, I am not sure whether I will be going to grad school for psychology this year, as I had hoped. I am waiting to hear back from one more program about whether I will be moving on to the next stage in the application process. If not, I will be looking for alternative postgrad plans, such as post-bac programs, jobs, or internships that will help me gain more relevant experience and potentially decide whether I want to apply to grad programs for the next admissions cycle. As I am sure is the case for a lot of graduating seniors, a lot of things feel very up in the air right now. It feels a little unsettling not knowing what the rest of my year will look like, but I am also cautiously optimistic with the strange sense of freedom that comes with uncertainty. 

The new semester

In my 10th (eek!) and final semester here at Oberlin, I will be trying my best to strike a good balance between fulfilling all of my requirements for graduation and making the most of the time I have left as a college student on this campus (e.g., through exploring extracurriculars and hobbies, connecting with those I care about, exploring more of the town of Oberlin). In my next blog post, once my schedule is more solidified, I hope to talk about the classes I am taking this spring and reflect on the start of the semester. Until then!

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