Summer Life as an Oberlin Student
It’s the beginning of July, and I’m getting close to the halfway point of my first summer vacation since coming to Oberlin. Since summer started, I managed to escape the lovely state of Ohio for about a month, and the total number of days was quickly approaching the length of winter term, the longest I’ve gone Ohio-less since I started college. (Read about why I left Ohio for winter term!)
Fortunately, (or possibly unfortunately, depending on who you ask) I never ended up reaching that length again. I just couldn’t stay away, and I returned to Ohio for the past week to go on some exciting adventures and visit some of the amazing friends I met at Oberlin. Having just gotten back to my home state of New York, I can confidently say that the week was a success.
The anticipation of this trip got me thinking about my college friends, how they’re spending their summers, and the big return to Ohio we all have coming at the end of August. (Class of 2023, are you ready?) This Ied me to decide to conduct a mini-interview and see what my fellow rising second-year Obies, from both the college and the con, had to say about their summers and Oberlin.
First, we have Michelle (she/her), a double-degree student who studies composition in the conservatory and studio art in the college.
What she’s doing this summer: “I'm doing a small chamber music summer festival in Vermont called Yellow Barn (it's been absolutely amazing so far! It's a really small and intimate group and everyone is incredibly talented and nice). Afterwards, I'm going to do an internship at National Sawdust. I'm super excited about that.”
What she misses most about Oberlin: “Maybe I'm exposing myself by saying this, but I miss playing Webkinz at ungodly hours of the night with my pals Claire and Cait, and I really miss the Oberlin community in general. Also, not to get soppy, but I really miss the composition seniors who graduated this past year, but I'm looking forward to meeting the first-years!”
What she’s most excited about for her second year: “I'm really excited to not be inundated with credits, and of course, I'm excited to reconnect with my friends. I'm also stoked and a little bit intimidated about the orchestration class I‘m taking this upcoming semester. I‘m hoping my second year is a little less existential crisis-y and less dumpster fire-y, but I might be getting a little cocky. Anyhow, I‘m really excited to get back to Oberlin and to be surrounded by such amazing and supportive people.”
My thoughts: Michelle’s summer experiences are not uncommon for conservatory students. Many Oberlin musicians do music-related festivals, camps, and internships over the summer to stay connected with music and sharpen their skills while they’re away from school. I completely agree with Michelle when it comes to late-night Webkinz adventures (I’m exposing myself here too I guess!), which were made very convenient to us thanks to the 24-hour computer lab located in the Program Houses on south campus. It was a great way to unwind from long weeks of classes, and something I definitely miss about Oberlin as well. I’m excited to see Michelle again in the fall, and I’m rooting for her second year to go as smooth as possible!
Next, we have Cait (she/her), one of my fellow TIMARA majors in the conservatory. This is the same Cait that Michelle referenced above.
What she’s doing this summer: “Working, writing, and making chaotic music.”
What she misses most about Oberlin: “The community, friends, and late night chaos.”
What she’s most excited about for her second year: “Catching up with everyone and learning even more stuff. Also meeting all the new Obies and getting back into the swing of campus life; love that.”
My thoughts: While I mentioned above that some conservatory students (like Michelle) spend their summers doing formal music work, others, like Cait and I, opt to work on music independently, which is an equally valid option. Cait also tallies up the number of rising second-years excited to meet the newest class of Obies! Last summer, when I was an incoming freshman, I had no idea that I would make so many friends who were second, third, and even fourth and fifth years. So, a message to the Class of 2023 and beyond: don’t be afraid to make friends outside of your class year. Older students are more excited to meet you than you might realize.
Now we’re onto Maya (she/her). She’s in the college and is double majoring in politics and economics.
What she’s doing this summer: “This summer, I’m working as a TA at the NJIT precollege program, reading the Harry Potter books for the first time, and gardening.”
What she misses most about Oberlin: “I miss going to mini concerts in the Cat in the Cream. Who doesn’t love music and cookies?”
What she’s most excited about for her second year: “I’m looking forward to reuniting with my friends, taking interesting politics classes, and being able to walk through Tappan on a beautiful day.”
My thoughts: Maya definitely has a diverse plate this summer, but it seems she’s struck the perfect balance between work and leisure, and has some great goals! I wanted to talk more about her mention of the Cat in the Cream, which is making me miss it as well. For those of you unfamiliar with the venue, the Cat is a student-run performance space on campus.
In my year at Oberlin, I’ve gone to a wide variety of events there, including poetry readings, improv showcases, and talent shows, just to name a few examples. Jazz forum, which is held in the space each Friday afternoon, is an event I’m particularly looking forward to attending again in the fall, but I’m even more excited about those cookies Maya referred to. They have both vegan and non-vegan cookies, which are large, delicious, and only a dollar! I remember being in the mood for something sweet one night last year as I walked back from dinner at my co-op. Luckily, there was a show at the Cat that night and I was able to both satisfy my craving for a cookie and enjoy a great show. Hopefully when we’re back at school, Maya and I will be able to go to the Cat together again!
Last but not least is Emily (she/her). Emily hasn’t declared a major yet, but is most likely going to choose comparative American studies with minors in anthropology and politics.
What she’s doing this summer: “I’m living in Boston with my sister, brother-in-law, and baby nieces and am a development intern at a really cool nonprofit called Fathers’ Uplift.”
What she misses most about Oberlin: “I definitely miss people most, but also I just miss my routine at Oberlin and like daily life of going to class and seeing people and stuff like that.”
What she’s most excited about for her second year: “Honestly I’m probably most excited for the classes I have lined up and taking higher level classes, but also I want to get more involved in clubs/other activities!”
My thoughts: Internships like Emily’s are a common summer occurrence for Obies in all years, in both the college and the con. They’re a productive way to spend the summer, and in a case like Emily’s, they’re a good opportunity for Obies to spend time away from their hometowns and live somewhere new for awhile (although it’s perfectly valid to stay home for an internship as well). Like Emily, I’m also excited to take higher level classes next semester; 200-level music theory, here I come!
There’s a general consensus among my four wonderful interviewees about missing their college friends and being excited to see them again. If I was answering my own interview questions, I’d definitely have to agree with them. Seeing friends is one of the reasons I went back to Ohio last week! This shows that even with the diverse variety of activities Obies have in the summer to keep ourselves busy, we still struggle being away from all of the people we met at school.
In my opinion, it’s the hardest part of summer break. I began the season counting the days since I left Ohio, but I think I’ll be spending the rest of it doing the opposite. How many days until school starts? As of today, July 9, 53. We’ll all be seeing our friends again soon. Until then, we all clearly still have a lot to keep us occupied!