So I am not dead, I did actually visit the two schools... Here is what I got out of the whole ordeal:
This was the first college my mom and I visited. We flew to Cleveland, Ohio on Friday. In the airport there, they have a church. Like, in one of the rooms in the main terminal. That was sort of weird but it is the Midwest after all. Another observation- a lot of people dye their hair blonde there. For some reason it was much more noticeable than here in Los Angeles... I think that's because even lots of the older women have platinum blonde hair. But anyway- onto more important business. Oberlin!
We slept overnight at the Holiday Inn, and then got a ride from the hotel to Oberlin College early in the morning. It was cold but not too much, and the sky was overcast. Definitely a different environment than I'm used to- all the houses on the way were sort of gloomy and had these really tall, steep roofs, apparently to keep the snow from piling on. Also, each house had an identically sized shed outside, my mom said in order to keep stuff in there over winter. These are all assumptions, of course. My mom and I "approved" of the houses, especially the fact that each one had a huge expanse of land all around and (leafless) trees. Our driver was this grumpy old man and the funniest thing was that my mom sort of accidentally gave him a $20 tip for driving us for 15 minutes... hahaha... he sure wasn't grumpy after that. But anyway.
We ate the "continental breakfast" with other admitted students- it was whole wheat bagels and fruit. They said 65% was locally grown or something but I don't know how that makes sense. Oh well. We sat next to a kid from Maryland who stayed in a dorm the night before and who was really nice- he was deciding between U. of Maryland and Oberlin so he's in a similar predicament as I am. It's funny because the week before the trip, I kept saying that I wasn't nervous about visiting colleges because I was now the one to judge them and I didn't need to worry about being so proper myself. But of course the moment I got there, that all changed. Suddenly I felt all self-conscious next to the admitted kids, the current students, even the admissions people who I have no need to impress anymore! Gah. But I was still very judgmental of my surroundings and observed everything, as I promised. This girl soon joined our table- apparently she had met the Maryland boy the night before. She was... man, I don't want to get too picky, but I can't help it. She was exactly the type of person I feared I would encounter at Oberlin. She had the "cooler than thou" attitude down pat, she had this crazy curly hair with blonde tips and a scarf head band on. She mentioned at least twice that she stayed up until 3 am the night before, talking with her roommates. Like, a really deep conversation, you know? I don't mean to demean anyone and once again, this is just me looking after my own ass because people like that make me feel intimidated and uncomfortable, and I can see through them but yet I'm still intimidated.
Well, I saw a lot of people like that throughout the day at Oberlin. This is one of my biggest worries about the school. It's just that the great majority dress hipster-y, and the great majority are just so cool. And they don't even dress in a similar hipster style. They're all very consciously different- you can tell they're trying to be- yet they blend together and look the same after a while. This probably makes no sense... the school was gorgeous, but almost too much. I think this is because it wasn't really a classic college pretty- it's more of a quirky cool look. The library is very colorful and edgy. I came out feeling like I will become a spoiled brat if I attend this school. Everything seems to be handed on a silver platter to the students. And there's nothing wrong with that- I'm sure most liberal arts colleges are this way- but the mixture of that and the students who are so cool and environmentally conscious and sort of stuck up looking and the quirky decoration... the whole deal tended to feel kind of phony. I'm used to working for what I need at a huge public school, so this will be a different experience to say the least. I think I'm better when I work to achieve something, and I just can't imagine sitting at the cool cafe in the library, with the big (and of course cool) display of news magazines and couches all around, reading about the news to learn. This barely makes sense even to me but I think it would all feel so phony. But I don't know. I'm very confused about it all. the school was great and beautiful and the kids seemed interesting, but I don't think it clicked... yet there are so many opportunities there, and I just found a hefty scholarship in the acceptance envelope so that does not hurt one bit either... what am I to do? Gahhhh.
The area is not wonderful either- it's basically the middle of nowhere. I've had several road trips to places like Las Vegas and San Francisco, and the main town aside from Oberlin was identical to the weird highway/truck stops where all the Denny's and Motel 6's are. I wouldn't mind one bit if there was just forest around, but it wasn't like that- it was all a bunch of pavement and street and motels. Not my style at all- a bit depressing, to be honest. When I said I didn't mind living in the middle of nowhere, I meant a woodsy area- definitely not this. Cleveland isn't great either, so there is really not much to do outside of the school. But I do want snow and snows quite a bit there. The food was great, the facilities were flawless, there were some nice people we met.
We'll see what happens, I guess. It's down to Oberlin and Berkeley for me because I've basically dropped Macalester for now after visiting. It was nice but I think Minnesota might be just a bit above my cold threshold, and the students were reeeally nice and the boys were very cute and my-type-ish (the girls, on the other hand... damn, they have clearly let go of themselves. All wearing fleece. Polar opposite of Oberlin). The library was butt ugly- worse than the one in my local community college. The whole college wasn't very impressive indoors, and that is most important because I'm sure that's where I'll spend most of my time during snow storms. Also I talked to this girl who it turned out felt like the school didn't have a community feeling- the international kids generally kept to themselves (the international factor is what mostly attracted me to the school) and I guess she just couldn't really find herself. And she was form NYC, so she can't be so different from me. I don't know, I just sort of lost enthusiasm for the school after the visit and it has gotten buried on its own accord in my mind... thank god I visited.
So we'll see what happens... I have, oh god, 11 days to decide! Wow, this sucks.