Oberlin Blogs

When Fall Turns to Winter (Term)

December 5, 2019

Charlize Villasenor ’23

After a semester, I know I’ve grown so much as a person through my experiences here. I remember move-in day and how there were a few familiar faces from my senior visit, and how excited I was to put my personal touch on my dorm room. I remember being surprised at how quickly the weather cooled and how pretty the trees around campus and the Arb were. I remember plenty of nights spent talking to my hall-mates as we did homework and walking to class with them wondering how hard the next quiz would be. I’ve done many things here that I could’ve done in my hometown. I can promise there’s restaurants, stores, and parks in El Paso, but it isn’t the same as being in Oberlin. 

While I have friends in both places, my friends back home talk about different things and different experiences than my friends in Oberlin. It’s an exciting thing to get to know others and what kind of background they come from, as well as to let others know how things are in your own hometown. Many people only knew my hometown as where Beto O’Rourke or Khalid are from, but now they know more about where I’m from, and I know more about where they’re from. Though I was nervous at first that I wouldn’t be able to connect to people, I’ve realized that we’re all students at Oberlin for a reason and have certain passions or ideas that can bring us together.

Early semester worries aside, I also have learned a lot about self-management both in and out of the classroom. I still have a ways to go, but I’m definitely better at how I use my free time and the value of a good night’s rest. Since I spend most of my time on campus, I can easily monitor my habits and notice when I feel overwhelmed or stressed. I appreciate that self-care is definitely emphasized at Oberlin. If you’re on the path to learning more about self-care, there are even workshops hosted by various groups on campus including the counseling center. I’ve worked harder for my 4 classes in college than I worked for my 8 classes in high school, but I understand the value of learning the material in all of my classes. I was a bit shyer in high school when it came to utilizing my resources, but that shyness has mostly gone away here; I never feel like anyone’s judging me for wanting a tutor or see my professors in their office hours.

Passion is something that every Obie can identify with. Whether it’s in a research lab, on a sports field, on stage, in the classroom or elsewhere, passion is a characteristic I see in all my peers. This passion often fuels study abroad terms, researches, winter term projects, and more. Personally, my passion for furthering my proficiency in Japanese led me to my winter term project! This year, I’ll be learning new kanji (characters) and using them to create worksheets for the kanji learned in Japanese 201 (fall term) and 202 (spring term). I’ll be back in El Paso so I can have plenty of time to see family as well as work on my project. Though I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at the beginning of the semester, students are given plenty of time to think about what they plan to do and can even receive funding for these projects if needed.

Winter term can be nearly any project that furthers your personal or academic development. The recommended hours are about 30 per week, or 6 per business day, but can vary by project. The main requirements are the hours, having a professor or faculty member sponsor the project, and to choose which category or focus the project falls under (academic, artistic, internship, community engagement, research, or personal development). As students can choose to do their winter term at Oberlin, at home, or abroad, and to do either group projects or individual projects, there are many different options for students so they can gain as much as they can from their winter term project.

The fall semester is finally wrapping up, and though I’m a bit nervous for finals, I know I’ve gained skills throughout the semester that will help me study and do well. Wish me luck on my final exams and papers, and to my fellow Obies, you can do this!

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