Oberlin Blogs

In which I relocate to the Asia House lounge

December 12, 2008

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

I realized a week or two ago that I am no longer capable of doing work in my room. I can usually do about one math problem in there, but after that things get pretty hopeless. I have therefore spent most of the last twenty-four hours in the Asia House lounge, where, surprisingly, I've managed to accomplish a few things. I've gained a certain amount of respect - if not understanding - for mass spectrometry; I've begun to understand how the microwave in the kitchen works, at least for making Ramen noodles (because, yes, that was my dinner last night); I've edited my application for Creative Writing 201 until I realized I wanted to delete it all and start over from scratch.

I left Asia House only a few times: to obtain food, to attend a chemistry review session, and to turn in said creative writing application. I felt a little strange after I'd turned it in - I spent so much time and now agonizing over every word, and now, not to put it too melodramatically, its fate is completely out of my hands. I spent a minute in the basement of Peters pondering these strange facts of life before I returned to the Asia House lounge and more work.

It hasn't completely been work, though, or I probably wouldn't be sane at this point. As mentioned earlier, I've eaten a few meals there, but, more importantly, I've interacted with people. This is especially important to do as exams approach, for procrastination reasons, if nothing else. But I exaggerate. Mostly, I've been having study parties with people on my hall, which is a good way to feel social and get work done at the same time. There's something about sitting around a table with three other people all doing work that makes you feel obligated to get things done, too.

And finally, completely unrelated to academic work, I've been dancing in the lounge. I realized in high school that my ballet classes were what kept me from going crazy through the late nights of essays and math homework, partly due to the fact that they had nothing to do with school, and partly - cliché as it may sound - because of the self discipline. There's definitely something to be said for the whole "mind over matter" thing.

With this knowledge in mind, I've tried to keep up with dancing in some form or another, which I think is important. Maybe dancing isn't your thing, but something else is - read a book or take a walk to the Arb. Everyone needs some time set aside each week to decompress, even when finals are rapidly approaching. In my case, it means that people think I live in Asia House's lounge, doing splits, but that's okay; it's going to get me through finals without too much damage to my psyche.

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