Oberlin Blogs

The Upside

December 31, 2018

Megan McLaughlin ’22

Several times over the course of my first year at Oberlin, I heard the term “sophomore slump” to refer to a common feeling of unhappiness during sophomore year. I can confirm that I was struck with this general feeling of ennui during fall semester. Without giving too many details, I found myself less interested in my classes, and simply less content than I was last year–for no specific reason, but also for some small, irrelevant reasons. It wasn’t a momentous semester for me, but it’s over now, and it certainly had lots of good moments. I don’t really want to dwell on all of the bad aspects of my sophomore slump; instead, I want to take some time to talk about what I appreciated in this semester, and what I’m looking forward to that’s approaching in my future. 

What I liked:

  • My co-op! As little as dining hall food thrilled me last year, I was always apprehensive about joining a co-op; I thought that I wouldn’t fit in well and I wouldn’t like the dynamic, as well as having to put in several hours a week to cook food and clean the co-op’s cooking and eating space. But about a month into the semester, I joined Fairchild, Oberlin’s vegan co-op. I love the consistency, the feeling of community, and seeing the same faces at meals every day. I’m continuing with it next semester, and I’m also going to be a Food Safety Coordinator, which involves food safety training new members of the co-op and making sure food safety guidelines are being followed in the kitchen.
  • I’m living in a beautiful dorm on south campus, with my same amazing roommate as last year. Built in the 1880s, Talcott Hall is Oberlin’s oldest traditional housing dorm. I like living in Talcott because I’m so close to the conservatory, so I can leave my dorm at 8:57am and still make it on time to my 9:00am class without having to walk across the eternity that is Tappan Square (like I did last year coming from Kahn). The ceilings are also really high, and my dorm in particular has six windows, which is four more than last year and leads to a lot of glorious morning light.
  • I got to play Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem as a part of the Chamber Orchestra with the Musical Union and the Oberlin College Choir in December. It’s probably my second favorite thing I’ve played so far at Oberlin, after the Organ Symphony last year. This was the first time I’ve been part of a choir since high school (if you count playing my instrument with a choir singing behind me as being part of a choir, I suppose), and it was wonderful to work with new people and a new conductor. One of my favorite parts of making music is collaborating with other people, and it was a joy to do that on this piece.
  • I’ve declared all of my majors. More on that in a future blog post.
  • I joined the Alumni Leadership Council, the governing body of the Oberlin’s Alumni Association, as one of three student representatives. My first meeting happened during President Ambar’s inauguration in October, and it was wonderful to meet so many people who are passionate about Oberlin years or decades after they have graduated. Participating in the Inauguration Concert and attending the Inauguration was simply amazing. It was probably the point in my semester, if not my entire time in college, that I’ve felt the closest to Oberlin. We have another meeting in March that I’m looking very much forward to.

What comes next:

  • I’m excited for my winter-term project. I’ll be writing a research paper on the tone poems of Richard Strauss and how they incorporate storytelling through music, while simultaneously learning some of their major excerpts on my instrument. It will be a great way to bring together my horn, musicology, and English majors and enjoy some down time in what will be a mostly vacant campus. I’ll also be working in the library and dining in a winter-term co-op, so right now I’m feeling very organized and excited!
  • Next semester, I’m registered for a StudiOC cluster course entitled “The Art of Desire.” StudiOC works to bring together classes in the college and conservatory as a multidisciplinary approach to various topics. The cluster I am enrolled in contains an English class and a music history class, which appeals to me greatly because those are two of my majors.
  • I’m studying abroad! This summer, I’ll be spending five weeks in Bath, England, taking two literature courses focused on Jane Austen and Shakespeare, taught by British and American faculty, including Oberlin's Professor Wendy Hyman. Studying abroad as a double-degree student is often hard to make happen. I’m glad that I’ll be able to go someplace new without having to change my whole plan, or having to leave my beloved flatlands of Ohio for a whole semester.
  • I’ll be trying to write more blogs next semester. The blogs are something I do because I enjoy it, so from here on out I want it to be more of a priority.

That’s all from me this time. Just a little summary of where I’m at post-finals and pre-winter term. My sophomore slump is over, I’m feeling good, and I have a lot to look forward to.

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