Oberlin Blogs

Starting the Search Again

October 31, 2011

Lauren Manning ’12

Here I sit, in my friend's cute house in New Haven, CT. Fall break of senior year = grad school visits. I'm at Yale until tomorrow morning, when I have to train it to NYC then on to NJ, drive back to Oberlin, and drive to Chicago the next day.

It is overwhelming. Oberlin has been the small, tight-knit and stimulating community I have needed for the past several years. But I am on the brink of exploring life and discovering my specific place in the world — a both exciting and terrifying prospect. I feel like a baby who has suddenly discovered she can walk. Graduation from high school was a different circumstance altogether, but this trip does bring to mind that long expedition my mother and I embarked on four years ago. I was young and naive; excited to finally have a chance to pursue my dream, yet worried that I was not at the right level to be accepted at a conservatory. Having grown up in the Middle East, I was always a loner when it came to music and violin playing. I was good by Jordan's standards, but what would it be like in America?

My mother and I left Jordan for five weeks during the winter of my senior year of high school. I auditioned at four schools: UT Austin, Rice University, Eastman School of Music, and Oberlin. UT was my back-up school, Rice was a dream school, I was convinced I would be happy at Eastman because it is in Rochester, NY (never mind that Rochester isn't so great — I thought being in New York was the important thing). And I hated Oberlin. Too much snow, no good restaurants, no city, and I got really sick our first night there. We were stranded in Oberlin for two extra days because of a huge snowstorm.

But while Oberlin may, upon first encounter in the dead of winter, seem nondescript and awful, the moment I stepped into the con, I was confronted with a buzz of activity and creativity which I hadn't found elsewhere. This impression remained with me, and when my acceptance letters came in, I decided to take what seemed to me to be a risk. And I have never regretted my decision.

But here I am again, trekking around the country, visiting friends and having lessons and seeing schools. Once again I am nervous — am I as prepared as I should be to enter into this world of the self-sustaining graduate student? Only time will tell, but I am excited for the journey nonetheless.

Similar Blog Entries