Oberlin Blogs

Semester 9 at Oberlin: Checking In

November 30, 2023

Yuhki Ueda ’24

My ninth and penultimate semester at Oberlin has proven to be a whirlwind of experiences that have taken me to new heights, tested my limits, nudged me into exploring and honing my worldviews and life goals, and encouraged me to embrace the ebbs and flows college life has to offer me as a fifth-year student trying to make the most out of their last year while simultaneously planning for a life post Oberlin, which feels like it’s approaching all too soon. 

This semester, I am taking a variety of interesting classes, namely: a Comparative American Studies/History (cross-listed) course called Afro-Asian America: Intraminority Connections in Historical Perspective, a Music History course on the Racial Politics of Classical Music, a Rock Climbing ExCo, Chamber Music, and private lessons for my Piano major. Earlier in the semester, I also took a first-module Japanese language course on Japanese for Professional Purposes. Although I was initially enrolled in the second-module course called Japanese Translation: Theory and Practice, I had reached a point in the middle of the semester where I was struggling to keep my head afloat with all of the schoolwork, graduate applications, and extracurriculars I was trying to juggle. This semester has felt like (and probably is) my busiest one yet, although I am sure I will feel significantly less overwhelmed once I complete my graduate school applications which are due later this week. (I am applying to psychology graduate programs, and have been working on these applications for the past several months!)

Through both the Afro-Asian America and Racial Politics of Classical Music courses, I have learned a great deal about the ways in which white supremacy has seeped into countless aspects of modern-day life among individuals and communities who live in the United States, as well as the myriad of ways in which individuals and communities who have historically been marginalized have fought against and attempted to dismantle these biased systems. The Racial Politics of Classical Music course, in particular, has pushed me to question and unpack my identity and background as a classical pianist of color and my relationship with and perceptions of Western classical music, among other musics, and has helped me learn more about how this music, particularly in the context of higher education, can be approached in decolonial and antiracist ways. Learning about the pervasiveness of white supremacist ideals and attitudes in music theory, musicology, compositions, and composers of the Western classical music canon has made me feel uncomfortable, disappointed, and frustrated, but the lectures and discussions that have taken place in this class have often also been very eye-opening and empowering experiences. It has been refreshing to study and discuss materials that push us to question what we have typically been taught and how we have been socialized as musicians in the sphere of Western classical music. 

Aside from juggling schoolwork and graduate school applications, I am also trying to make the most of the time I have left with my friends here in Oberlin. Having a strong support system to help me navigate the challenges and busyness of college has been particularly important this year, and I am very grateful to have my friends by my side through it all, whether it's through something as simple as grabbing a quick coffee in between classes, taking walks to the Arb, or holding movie nights. 

That is it from me for now. Until next time!

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