Oberlin Blogs

Winter Term: A guide to productive hibernation

January 16, 2020

Winter term is such a special part of the Oberlin life. It’s when you’ve just gone through the stress of fall semester, only to be confronted with holiday stress, and then January comes like a big bear hug of space and time to be used and molded in whatever way is most helpful to you. I chose to hibernate, but in a productive way. This is my senior year, so I’m not technically required to fulfill a winter term project (winter term projects are only mandatory for three out of four years). But I’m doing what I’ve done for most of my winter term projects — intensive practicing combined with intensive self-care, and intensive sleeping. Next month is auditioning month for graduate schools, so next to my day-to-day class schedule I’ll be traveling to a new city every week. This is a great privilege, and I’m so lucky to have these opportunities, but it’s also stressful and tiring.

My January is a whole-packet self-improvement plan. I’m practicing as much as my attention can sustain, which means I tend to have one really good practice day, and then a bad one, and then a good one. If anyone has helpful tips to maintain day-to-day consistency for many hours, please comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

But anyways I’m getting sidetracked, this is combined with daily yoga with Adriene, and her new series “Home.” If you’ve never tried yoga with Adriene, I’d highly recommend it. She has a very cute dog. And my routinely Headspace (fyi Headspace has a student rate of $10.00 a year, so if you’ve ever wanted to try scientific meditation and mindfulness, check it out. It gets much more expensive when you’ve graduated and are most likely poor.) This is coupled with lots of yummy cooking, bread baking, and writing. Oberlin’s student union is also organizing many events for people on campus, from bus trips around the greater Cleveland area to tea and cookies in the morning. 

I’ve also finally had time to go to the gym a few times a week. Oberlin has many gym and wellness venues around campus, and I go back and forth between the gym in South dorms and Phillips Athletic Center. Tomorrow, I’m very excited to explore the Oberlin sauna. I know I’m a senior, but I’ve never been before. 

January has also given me the opportunity to look into concerts. Oberlin frequently provides free tickets to events around Cleveland, and Cleveland’s music scene is truly fantastic. Earlier this week I went to hear James Ehnes play Beethoven’s Spring Sonata and Kreutzer Sonata in one evening. Needless to say, I was blown away. The programs in Severance Hall with the Cleveland Orchestra are always worth looking into, and the Cleveland Chamber Music Society has some fantastic concerts. 

Oh! And I totally forgot to mention Samuel. Samuel is my new sourdough starter. He was born yesterday, and I’m really hoping he will live. He’s looking a little sickly and won’t bubble. So please send kind thoughts to Samuel, he needs some positivity. I decided if I’m ever going to try sourdough, it’s going to have to be now, because if he lives it’ll be all I can do to keep him alive in February. My housemate may have to help me with feeding duties, and then I can start using him in March. 

Next to yoga, bread baking, caring for Samuel, practicing, and Headspace, I’ve been having yummy meals with friends and trying to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Last semester, I learned in my music theory class that sleep is an integral part of our fine motor skills. As we grow more tired, our brain begins to prioritize between the “important” and “unimportant” daily activities. So, without consulting me, my brain decides that fine motor skills are unimportant, which is something as a violinist I strongly disagree with, and discards the retention of information regarding fine motor skills and muscle memory. Which means, when I’m sleep-deprived, I’m most unable to benefit and grow in what I do all day long. So at least for January I try to be healthy and sleep as much as I feel my body needs during normal hours. When I go to bed, I imagine being all snuggled up in my hibernation cave, so on that note, happy productive hibernating! 

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