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Welcome to My Oberlin!

April 22, 2008

Alice Ollstein ’10

Don't get me wrong, I loved my hometown. But I had to get away and I wanted to find somewhere that was unlike any place I'd ever experienced and far enough from home for a semblance of independence. I only applied to private, out-of-state colleges, mostly on the East Coast, and because of money could only visit the ones that both accepted me and coughed up a big ol' scholarship. Every school I visited had beautiful buildings, interesting classes, and decent food, but what stood out about Oberlin for me was the people. Unlike some of the East Coast institutions where I got a cold, snobbish vibe from the student body, Oberlin literally welcomed me with open arms (I was copiously hugged as a prospie for having a cool Shakespeare t-shirt).

Everyone was extremely friendly, and after being treated to a late snack I sat in the hallway for over an hour with a girl I'd just met talking about Oberlin's journalism scene and our mutual ambitions. I was also privileged enough to visit on a Friday and witness the gloriousness that is "TGIF," a weekly party every Friday afternoon in the center of campus where students play music, DJ, do circus tricks, play frisbee, or just chill. Anyone visiting during this magical time would be instantly convinced by the winning combo of rampant musical talent and pure friendliness. (Sidenote: circus tricks like juggling, unicycling, and stilt-walking are big here, mostly because we have our own circus, OCircus, that performs several times a year. They're incredible! In the last show, they also composed and played all their own music while doing tricks.)

So...long story short, I came here. Best decision of my life. I've had a ton of fun, taken advantage of as many opportunities as I could, learned more than I ever thought possible, and the best part is that I have two years left! I've lived in a noisy, messy freshman-only dorm and a stately "traditional housing" dorm, both times in an open double with a roommate. I've eaten in both a dining hall and a coop. I've roomed with a female and a male. I now live on one of the four "all-gender" halls, where you can request to share a room with someone of the opposite sex.

While it is true that it's common at Oberlin to find a niche and stick with it (I've chosen the newspaper, while friends of mine have gone for a capella groups, research with professors, or environmental activism), I also look forward to trying new things every semester.

I've also become so much more aware of and connected with global issues since coming to Oberlin. This is the kind of place where a casual lunchtime conversation (especially over delicious, organic, locally-grown co-op food) can turn into a fierce debate over the upcoming election or one student teaching another something amazing they learned in class. When I'm having a particularly "Oberlin" moment like that, I congratulate myself again on making the choice to come here.

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