Oberlin Blogs

A Week in the Life: Last First Week of College Edition (Part I)

February 16, 2024

Yuhki Ueda ’24

For my last first week of classes at Oberlin this semester, I decided to record a detailed account of each day, which I have compiled into a series of blog posts (the first of which you are currently reading!). 

Just a fair warning — these blog posts will be quite ramble-y, so please brace yourselves. I have many thoughts, observations, and realizations to share about my first week. Let’s start with day 1, Monday. 

11 am: Piano Pedagogy, my first class of the semester!

  • As I get a better sense of what the class will look like, I think to myself, “I wish had taken this class earlier so I could have had more teaching experience.” I had always been interested in teaching piano, but I hadn’t explored it much until I decided to take this course this semester. Anyhow, I’m glad I’ll get to gain a bit of experience before leaving Oberlin!
  • As I sit through this class, I realize that I had been thinking about grad school and life after Oberlin so much in these past few months I had forgotten that I still have a whole semester left as a college student. On the flip side, it’s hard to believe I only have a semester left?! I want to make the most out of these last few months here before I venture into the “real” world, and I don’t want to leave with any regrets. 

12 pm: head back to my apartment and slurp down a bowl of noodle soup for lunch

1:15 pm: nap time

  • Power naps keep me going during the semester. 
  • After having moved into off-campus housing, sometimes I find myself wishing that I lived a little closer to campus because it takes me at least 8–10 minutes to walk to most places (maybe 7 if I’m walking extra fast and the traffic stops are in my favor…!). This might be the time to finally get a bike…

2 pm: private piano lesson

  • Feelings of anticipatory grief: I’m really going to miss having regular private lessons. I think it might be challenging to maintain my piano skills/ability once I leave the Conservatory environment, so I’ve been trying to take more advantage of the opportunities offered here, as well as imagining how piano might fit into my post-Oberlin life. 

5 pm: first Brown Bag Co-op meeting!

  • I came to Oberlin thinking I should join a dining co-op at least once during my time here, and although it took me a while to realize this goal, I am finally taking that step to do so. I decided to join the Brown Bag Co-op (BBC) this semester, which is an “on-campus co-op grocery store” (taken from OSCA’s description) for students who live off campus, in village housing, or otherwise have access to kitchen facilities and want to cook their own meals. I assume BBC is probably different from the other dining co-ops, where students typically cook and eat together, but I am excited to see what the experience has in store for me. 
  • I did find it a bit inconvenient not to have meal swipes in the middle of the day today between my class and lesson (which meant I had to return to my apartment for lunch), but I think being in BBC will push me to learn how to incorporate a wider variety of ingredients into my diet and encourage me to be creative with my cooking and baking. 
  • During the BBC meeting, I notice that students are using a variety of hand signals to indicate they have a proposal to make, that they agree or disagree with the proposal, that they have a clarifying question, etc. This is all new to me, but it seems to be a good system for people to offer their ideas and perspectives, and for decisions to be made as a group. 

6:15 pm: quick dinner before my last class of the day

7 pm: Senior Portfolio

  • The Psychology department requires senior majors to take a class called Senior Portfolio, which is meant to prepare graduating students for their post-college careers. 
  • As I walk into the classroom, I spot quite a few familiar faces. I’m glad I’m taking this class with my fellow senior Psych friends, many of whom I’ve previously taken classes with! It’s interesting to see what everyone wants to do with their degree, whether or not they plan to pursue a psychology-related career, and it also makes me feel a little sentimental reflecting on how far we have all come since our freshman year. 

11 am:
20th-Century Art Music

  • I am currently “shopping” for music history classes since it’s Add/Drop Period (which allows students to try out different classes at the start of each semester before they make a final decision on the courses they will register for) and I have to take one more upper-level music history course to fulfill my graduation requirements. 
  • Through taking Racial Politics of Classical Music, another music history class, last semester, I had grown increasingly disillusioned and even bitter about the world of Western classical music (predominantly white and European) and the many ways in which white supremacist ideologies manifest in different facets of this often elitist and highly exclusive musical sphere. To be very candid, sitting in on today’s 20th-Century Art Music class, where the music of this exact canon was being discussed, was a bit of a cognitively dissonant experience for me. I don’t think it’s inherently problematic to study and appreciate Western classical music — it’s just important that we engage with it mindfully, with an understanding of the context and nuances surrounding it and its history. With all of these thoughts and feelings of discomfort swimming around in my head, I reminded myself of this last point. 

12:20 pm: getting some work done at the Conservatory Library

  • I realize that there isn’t enough time to return to my apartment, have lunch, and then return to the Con before my next class. I guess I'll need to plan better in the future… Not having meal swipes is turning out to be a little more inconvenient than I had anticipated. 
  • To make good use of my time in between classes, I head to the Con Library to do some work. 

1 pm: Introduction to African American Music II

  • More “shopping” for music history classes. I enjoyed this class, and I think I’ve decided to take it instead of 20th-Century Art Music. This course is cross-listed with the Africana Studies and Jazz Studies departments, so I am looking forward to learning more about African American music through a variety of lenses. 

2:30 pm: post-class Blue Rooster run

  • After class, I head over to Blue Rooster Bakehouse, a bakery in downtown Oberlin, as a little treat to myself. I am an ardent fan of their croissants (I have never been disappointed by a BR croissant!) — they are my go-to pick-me-up. 

3 pm: BBC training session

  • I attend a mandatory training session as a BBC first-timer, where I learn more about the co-op, its lingo, community expectations and values, etc. Having attended my first BBC meeting on Monday and this training session today, I think that it’s really impressive how Oberlin’s dining co-ops are all student-run. There’s so much work that goes into making sure everything, from placing food orders and cleaning the shared facilities to making collective decisions, runs smoothly. 

4 pm: relax at my apartment for a few hours, then have dinner (I had baked mini baguettes the other day, and today I was finally able to get my hands on the other ingredients I needed to make the baguette sandwich I had been craving for the past few days!).

7:30 pm: rehearsal with chamber trio at the Con

9 pm: head to BBC to grab some produce — grape tomatoes, basil, mushrooms, and cucumber!

9:20 pm: head back to my apartment for the night

  • Phew, it’s been a long day! There are lots of little tasks that are piling up, which has been stressing me out, so I try to get at least some of them done while on the phone with one of my good friends who goes to college in a different state. We often FaceTime and have “body doubling” sessions where we work together or practice at the same time (on mute!). This has been one of my favorite ways to hold myself accountable, especially when I am feeling less motivated to get work done. It feels nice to be doing our own thing, but together/at the same time. 

1 am: bedtime

  • After getting some work done, it’s finally time to go to bed. I am feeling quite tired after a hectic first two days of class. 

Part 2 of this "Week in the Life" series will be coming shortly...

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