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When College Feels Like Home

January 4, 2018

It takes a long time to settle in at college, but I’ve finally done it. I think that this semester was my best one yet! I've been surprised at how different it feels to be an upperclassman, and at how confident I now feel in my choices and the way I move through the world.

One change? I don’t really get embarrassed anymore. For example, I trip all the time, especially when it gets icy, and no longer care if people are laughing at me. That’s a big step! Basically, I'm focusing on doing what makes me feel good. Being authentic has made me more friends and given me more experiences and opportunities than being shy and careful ever did! I still have some social anxiety, but I’m getting better every day.

For me, a big part of growing up is learning to live in the moment. I think that’s why I haven’t been blogging much – I’ve been focused on being present, so I haven’t devoted as much time to reflection as I used to. But now it’s 2018 (!!!) and I’m at home for Winter Term, so it’s the perfect time to look back on my 2017 experiences at Oberlin.

During my first semester of college, I created an Oberlin bucket list that continues to grow. Here are some of the items I crossed off my list during my first semester of junior year!

1. Swim in the Arb.

This is an Oberlin tradition for many students, especially in the warm months at the beginning of the school year! Somehow I had never done it until this fall. After tashlich, my favorite part of Rosh Hashanah, where we throw bits of bread into a stream to cast away sins and regrets, my friends Hannah and Sarah invited me to go swimming with them. I’m so glad I did – that spontaneity was just what I needed. I’ll definitely be doing this again once it gets warm out!

2. Write for Wilder Voice.

Since my first few weeks of college, I’ve wanted to write for Oberlin’s most well-known literary magazine. I’m so proud that I got to be both a contributing writer and an associate editor this semester!! Along with editing a student’s piece about her family history in Malaysia, I wrote a longform essay called “Donor 336” about my experience having donor siblings (for which El was my editor - so awesome!). I’ll definitely share the link to the online version of the magazine here once it comes out in February!

3. See a movie at the Apollo.

It’s hard to believe I’d never seen a movie at the theater downtown! But this semester was a big one for me and the Apollo. I spent hours upon hours in the Cinema Studies studio and editing lab above the movie theater working on a short film, so it was only natural that I finally went to see a movie there too. One night in October, my friend Hanne and I saw Battle of the Sexes (really great!), which we followed with cake from Aladdin’s. So yummy.

4. Film something!

As mentioned above, I CREATED A SHORT FILM THIS SEMESTER!! It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life. I feel really proud of myself – it really is a piece of my heart and mind that I can share with other people. Taking a Cinema Studies class was incredibly rewarding, and I intend to take more throughout the rest of my time at Oberlin!

A few other things I did in 2017?

  • I started working at a new job that I love. As an assistant in the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, I get to help coordinate the PRSM program. I’ve been working as a PRSM trainer since sophomore year, teaching first-years and other students about consent and bystander intervention, but now I’m working behind the scenes too! I'm thankful to get to be a part of such fulfilling and meaningful work.
  • I lived alone for the first time. Since March, I’ve lived in two different singles on campus – and I love it. I come home to my own space, where I can escape the noise of campus and just chill out! By having the opportunity to spend more time alone, I got to know myself really well this year. And, to my mom's chagrin, I also became messier than I've ever been in my life... oops!
  • I made new friends. After feeling a little lonely during the first half of my sophomore year, I was able to turn things around and meet kind people. When I go back to Oberlin in February, I know that I'll be returning to a campus full of people who care about me and want to see me be happy.

In a year in which I felt more grief and anger than usual about the United States, I felt very thankful to be a student at Oberlin. I am surrounded by incredibly bright and compassionate thinkers, who show me that it’s possible to dismantle the oppressive systems in our country that existed long before Trump. They remind me that activism must be a daily commitment. The actions that we take in our personal lives matter and have the potential to change our country's institutions. 

I'm happy to tell you all that, more than ever, Oberlin truly feels like my home. I'm so grateful that this college exists - younger Kira wouldn't even believe the life I'm living now! Sometimes I wish I could stay at Oberlin forever. But for now, I'll do my best to live in the present and soak up every minute I have in this magical place.

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