It's been an incredible year. As I start packing up my room this week, it feels like it's only been a few months since I hung all my posters and organized my desk, and now as I peel about five billion pieces of tape off of my walls and recycle an acre's worth of used paper scraps I can't believe it's nearly over.
We all come to college with certain expectations about what we'll do and who we'll become, but I think my favorite part of coming to Oberlin this year has been realizing which things I do regularly now that I could never have predicted I would enjoy. Physical exercise, for example. So without further ado, here are the top 6 things I didn't expect to love in college!
1. Blues dancing
If you haven't been to any of OSwing+Blues' events this year, make yourself promise to check out a dance next semester, because the days of the awkward shuffling of middle-school slow dancing and the PG-13 moves of high school are far behind us. So far behind us that we've brought back your grandparents' Lindy Hop.
I'll be honest with you, dancing is hard. Unless you pick up moves at the impossible speed of the "Dancing" number in Hello, Dolly!, you're going to spend your first few Blues and Swing events awkwardly eyeballing the talented people cutting a rug in the center of the dance floor and being too afraid to approach anyone lest you break their toes to the beat of "Jumpin' Jive." And that's okay! Be brave. Be unafraid of stepping out of rhythm and missing your partner's cue and turning in the wrong direction every time. Be bold, and if you put your heart into it then people will be filling up your dance card like it's 1899.
(And if nothing else, you'll be able to critique the inevitable overzealous musical numbers in Luhrman's upcoming Great Gatsby.)
Ugh. I know that my mom is going to read this post and gloat about it, but it's finally happened: I clean my room of my own free will. More frequently towards the beginning of the year and more thoroughly when I feel a bout of procrastination coming on, but yes, I vacuum, straighten, and dust--dust!--until I rediscover the chair beneath that lump of clothes in the corner. I'm still pretty bad at getting dishes done in a timely manner and my bed is more often unmade than not, but before you start pointing fingers I dare you to take a look around your own dorm room first. Yeah, that's what I thought.
3. DeCafe smoothies
Before this fall, I had only tasted one smoothie in my lifetime: a strawberry-banana concoction blended by the father of a fourth-grade classmate who was teaching us something about cooking. I don't remember the lesson very well but I remember the smoothie being gooey and full of chunky strawberry seeds, two nasty textures that I couldn't reconcile. Until this fall, smoothies to me were the drink of preppy teenagers in Clique novels or the lifeblood of super-athletes.
Then I realized you could put mangos in them.
I have been out of Flex Points for two months running now because within the first two weeks of March and April, I drank enough smoothies to run them dry. I honestly don't know what's come over me. Perhaps it's because I've figured out which fruits make up my ideal ultra-tangy blend or maybe it's my taste buds longing for variety outside of the typical dining hall apples/oranges/bananas, but whatever the reason I think I need to see a twelve-step program before I'm left alone with my wallet this summer. Worrying evidence: over spring break I ran some errands with my mom, and every time we stopped for food I requested a smoothie. "Didn't you just have one yesterday?" she asked. Yes. Yes I did.
I've made two posts already about how much I love hitting people with swords, so I won't say much more in this section. But I'm sure my gym teachers would laugh outright if I told them I exercise three days a week now, and six self-motivated hours no less. I think my parents still aren't quite over the shock. To all the other lazy, unathletic former-high-school-art-nerds out there: you do have an inner jock, and all you have to do to unlock them is pick up a weapon, put on a cloth version of armor, and run at another person with the intent to kill--I mean score. Your name was Inigo Montoya all along.
I am a notoriously terrible sleeper. I don't mean that I have a sleep disorder or wake up at the sound of someone breathing too heavily; instead, I put off sleep for as long as possible during the week before crashing and waking up at two in the afternoon on Saturday and Sunday mornings. But though I can sleep through practically any amount of noise, it's impossible for me to fall asleep in under an hour, and naps just weren't a feasible option unless I was dying of flu. I was the kid who spent kindergarten squirming on her mat in the dark during naptime, hoping the teacher wouldn't call my bluff.
If only my kindergarten teacher could see me now. I've napped in lounge chairs, on blankets on the quad, and of course in my own bed. I've yet to conquer napping in a womb chair, but trust me, it's on my list. Last Wednesday I made the terrible mistake of napping for too long, but messing up my circadian rhythms badly enough to feel wide awake at 4 am just meant that I had more excuses for fix-it naps on Thursday and Friday. After all, why not? The average human spends about 30% of their lifetime asleep, and we might as get a head start on those twenty-some years we'll spend snoring through our lifetimes. Maybe if I sleep enough in college, I'll have an awesome night life when I'm eighty? Only time will tell.
6. (Going) Outdoors
A campus of under five thousand students doesn't sound big on paper, but when you meet about 3/4ths of them on Wilder Bowl when the sun makes its first appearance in late March you realize how many people that actually is. You wonder where they all came from. There definitely weren't this many people here in the fall, were they? Where were they all winter? Clustered for warmth in an underground nuclear fallout shelter? Why didn't they invite me?!
If you're a prospective student reading this, I mean this with all sincerity: visit us in May. Stroll underneath the flowering trees and have a picnic in Tappan Square and eat some ice cream from Gibson's or Cowhaus while you windowshop on Main Street. For every shivering Californian that bemoaned why they picked a school within reach of the lake effect, going outside this month feels like how manna must've tasted to Moses in the desert. The warm weather reminds you of all the friends you've made and all the things you've done since the last time it was fun to go outside in the previous fall. It's beautiful everywhere you go, and it's all too easy to stretch out on the nearest grass-covered surface and watch your worries about finals drift away with the breeze.
...Which reminds me that I should probably stop writing this blog post on the porch and hit the books.
Thanks for a truly fantastic first year, everyone! I can't wait to catch up with you next fall!
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November 29, 2021