Oberlin Blogs

Walkin' in a Winter Oberlin: Staying Entertained in a Small Town

December 10, 2023

Daniela Sueiro '27


New York City has a population of 8.5 million people. My neighborhood, Astoria, has a population of 95,000 people. The town of Oberlin, Ohio has a population of 8,500 people. The school of Oberlin College and Conservatory has around 3,000 students. 

There’s something to be said about the anonymity of a big city. You can walk around singing at the top of your lungs, messily eating your overly-stuffed bagel and getting cream cheese on your nose. You can loiter in a CVS undisturbed for hours, procrastinating homework. Not that I’ve ever done anything like that. 

People told me it’d be a huge shock to move to Oberlin. I’d get amused and concerned faces, bets on how long I’d last, etc, etc. But honestly? This place is so special. I love living in a small town. I love the people, the vibes, the events, the trees, the closeness. Today, I want to just give a shout-out to this amazing town, and in particular, its constant movement and activities. 

Oberlin has this culture of celebration that permeates every month and holiday. Recently, there was a “Walkin' in a Winter Oberlin” event. I volunteer at the Hope Collection, a fair trade nonprofit store in town, so I got to stand outside, cozy and bundled up in the crochet scarf I made, and hand out hot cocoa samples. It had just gotten dark, the sky was a bright and deep evening navy, and I witnessed a procession of fire trucks, pickup trucks, and police cars sauntering by, all decked out in over-the-top Christmas lights, inflatable Santas, and earmuffed firefighters.

The high school marching band milled about after their performance. The Christmas tree in the square had a lighting ceremony. Ice sculptures were admired, then set ablaze in brilliant bonfires. There was even a fire baton dancer! I can’t describe the joy I felt to be a part of that event, making things happen, giving children little cups of cocoa that they held with gloved fingers. I know I’m describing it in a way that makes it probably seem large, but this event occurred in the space of a block or two. It was just so chock full of spirit and fun, it felt endless and exuberant. 

After my volunteering shift was over and I’d wandered around the tents and ice sculptures, I got dinner with my roommate and we headed over to a steel pan concert her friend was performing in at the Cat in the Cream (student-run performance space and cafe). OSteel, Oberlin’s steel pan group, was fantastic, and it was even more amazing to see all that people had learned in the Steel Pan ExCo over a short few months (if you don’t know what an ExCo is, it’s student-taught classes that you can take for credit! They’re often very creative and always delightful). 

In the vein of Oberlin events lately, we’ve had a wonderful array of arts and crafts fairs. There was the makers’ market, the art market, and pottery sale all within a week! My friends and I walked around and looked at all the knits, paintings, jewelry, and clothes people had been making all semester. It’s really fun to see someone from your English class at one of these events, rocking a stand with a talent you didn’t know they had!

One of my greatest fears coming to college was that I would have regrets about how I spent my time. So, to me, making the effort to attend all the fabulous events Oberlin seems to constantly have is a way not only to remain engaged with a community I love, but to ensure that I am getting what I’m looking for out of the college experience. 

It’s not always easy to put yourself out there. There’s days when you do have to take a rest instead of going to a concert. But most of the time, I reluctantly abide by a phrase my mother always told a reluctant teenage me: never don’t go. And, indeed, almost every time I’ve gone to events here, I’ve enjoyed myself and gotten a lil’ nugget from the experience (visualize: the golden little nuggets No Face holds out in Spirited Away). 

I would gladly go on and on about all the amazing events the college and town have to offer, past and future, but I’ll limit myself to leaving you with a short list instead. There are many wonderful liberal arts schools out there, but I think Oberlin is truly unique in the extent and range of cultural events and opportunities it offers. I wasn’t much of a concert person in New York (I know, missed opportunity, bummer), but this a great place to get into it, especially in such a small and safe-feeling community. 

I promise, even coming from a city quite literally a thousand times larger than this town, you won't get bored in this here small town.

Here’s a list of events I have had the honor of attending in just these past two weeks (yes, even while being intellectually challenged and studying up for finals season!). 

  • Bossa Nova night at the Cat in the Cream (concert)
  • Comedy Night at the ‘Sco (student-run disco)
  • Walkin’ in a Winter Oberlin\
  • Electrophonics (Conservatory students’ recital of electronic music)
  • Steel Pan Concert at the Cat in the Cream
  • Makers’ Market
  • Arts and Sciences Orchestra Concert
  • Rando Bando at the ‘Sco (bands randomly thrown together a week before perform original songs)
  • Solarity (largest student-run concert of the year)

A big shout-out to all the students and community members organizing these events! If you are a prospective student and have the ability to take a tour of Oberlin, I highly recommend asking around and looking at the Oberlin events page to see what’s going on and attend one of the events. Stop by, and see what’s happening!

Stay warm out there <3


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