{ Hello }

Zoë came to Oberlin for reasons that are impossible to enumerate succinctly. She wanted to major in some sort of biological science, but also had interests in other areas. She is currently majoring in biochemistry and creative writing, mainly because she couldn't pick just one side of her brain.

Besides writing stories and mixing chemicals together, Zoë plays violin, dances, visits her public library, and writes about herself in the third person. She's also become a member of Oberlin's Chinese Students Association and the secretary of Asia House's Hall Council, both largely by accident.

If you tell her that it's cold in Oberlin, she will laugh at you and then deny it, as she is from yet even colder climes.

To find out more information about her in a listed, possibly less confusing manner, click here.

{ Entries }


So we beat on, boats against the current

That, I suppose, is as fitting a metaphor as any for the end of my college time. We, in some small way, touch a place, it touches us, and then we move on.

Chinese Students Association

I learned that storing freshly spray painted lanterns in your room is usually a bad idea and I learned how to eat chicken feet.

My Weekend, In Summary

A highlight: the dessert contest, with categories such as hottest dessert, coldest dessert, and most fractal (largest surface area to volume ratio) dessert.

An update on my Bioanalytical Chemistry class

I picked it in part because I'm interested in the intersection between chemistry and archaeology and in part because mummies are very cool.

Flora the Red Menace

It strikes me that I'm probably growing up if I worry about bowings even when I'm the only person playing the part.

Things I Miss About High School

But, really, looking at the stars at 1:30 AM is always going to be more fun than writing a paper, even if said paper is about mummies.

And After Graduation...

Grad school was an obvious possibility, as was finding a job and working for a year, getting more lab experience. But I wasn't sure if I wanted to remain so heavily married to the sciences, at least in the immediate future.

An open letter about College Orchesta

Now Zoë, you may be thinking. Three hours of rehearsing a week? That's a lot of rehearsing time. And you'd be right. But another thing that I may or may not have already mentioned to you is that now we're doing two concerts a semester.

An update on my dancing

Once dressed, we put on our coats and boots and headed over to Warner--where the Dance Department is housed--looking very classy indeed. My coat looks really good on top of silk with gold accents; that's all I'm saying.

Some comments on the Creative Writing Major

That's probably the single biggest reason that I decided to major in creative writing as well as biochemistry. I wanted to have the chance to write and not feel guilty because I was supposed to be doing "real work."

Lunar New Year!

Excitingly enough, this year we purchased a second lion, so this year we were able to do really cool things like have the lions jump over one another. Plus, if you have more lions, everything just looks cooler.


Sometimes there's so much going on in a twenty-four hour period that it seems like I should just talk about my day because it gives a hint as to what's happening every day at Oberlin.

My Final Schedule

It suddenly hit me that this is my last chance to take classes at Oberlin, ever, and there are so many classes that I haven't had the chance to take yet. This is a sobering thought, especially since I've also suddenly been hit by an overwhelming desire to understand everything.

My Winter Term in Lists

It's possible to teach English, completely in English, to people who speak no English.

Teaching English

There was also a bonus piece to the puzzle that they could collect if they found Bigfoot and told him some facts about himself.

You've Got Mail

Since it's Winter Term right now, I've slacked off a little bit on my mail checking routine because the inflow of mail is even less than normal.

Being Christian at Oberlin

As is the case in many liberal circles, Christianity tends to conjure up images of repression, Jesus camp, and conservatives.

Selected Dinners

I love mozzarella cheese. And also chicken.

A Women's Hall Anecdote

Upon entering the hallway, I was greeted by the site of an overflowing water pitcher.

Further Winter Term Plans

"I want to do it!" I said. "I love pit orchestras!"

I've almost survived finals

So that's what I did for all of reading period, in between taking naps on the couch or the ground and briefly going to Stevenson or DeCafe to procure food.

Snow, Prop 8, and Chemistry

It's a little-reported fact, but organic chemistry in general is actually composed mainly of working up your product. Doing the actual reactions takes very little time. It's all in the purification.


I got a little overzealous and started talking about action items for the people who are going to stay at Oberlin during Winter Term. My co-chairs very quickly shot me down and said we'd figure that out later.

Three unrelated vignette blog posts

All you need to know is that it's legit real-world stuff, and she hasn't even graduated yet. Some people just really have their lives together.

Fourth Meal: Dascomb Dining Hall, 10:00 PM - 11:30 PM

It's a nice break from calculators and the viral YouTube videos we watch when the math gets to be too much.

In which Zoë abuses the privileges that her status as a senior provides her

At the end of this semester I'll be done with my biochemistry major, and I'll have only one class left in my creative writing major. That leaves a lot of extra credits to take whatever I want.


I was also prone to saying things like, "No, you have to tell me exactly where my feet and hands go in the turn, I can't just turn."

Ms. McLaughlin goes to Washington

And while we walked, we were treated to sights such as this: Simón Bolívar.


So I read and I wrote and I did my problem set and I got nothing else accomplished, meaning that a lot of things from my to-do list have now been pushed onto my "to-do over Fall Break" list.

Welcome to my laboratory

This is where I sit and frantically work on thermo while I'm waiting for my reaction to proceed on its own.

In which I discuss the moon instead of thermo

Last year, I got to play the role of a whiny, ignorant child. This year, I got to play the role of an angsty, apathetic teen. It's like I'm growing older and everything.

Thermo, thermo, thermo, thermo, Mahler, thermo...

As soon as we sat down, I was struck by the overwhelming need to pull out my thermo textbook and continue working.

Festival of Culture (so as not to reproduce a similar title exactly)

When we ambled around Tappan Square, I was the head of the lion, hearkening back to the first time I did the lion dance. My lovely friend who was the tail was also the person who danced with me that first time.

Where I Live Now

Please note the lovely framed Animorphs poster and the lovely Penang flag.

Add/Drop Fun, As Usual

At the start of last week, I was registered for International Politics, Archaeology, and Sociology. By yesterday, I'd dropped all but one of them, leaving me with my schedule for this semester.

Week one: no classes and already behind?

I thought I would have a pretty relaxing week, during which I could do things like unpack, hang up posters, and read all the YA novels that are still on my 'to read' list. That's not what's happened.


The shirt didn't really serve its purpose... Nevertheless, the day got me thinking about my own Freshman Orientation.

My summer in books

It's like these books were written just for me.

Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world

That was all right, though, because as I walked down the street trying not to look like I was lost while simultaneously trying to look like I spoke Chinese, I saw a statue of Kuan Yin across the street.

Packing List

Including, but not limited to: ramen, canned soup, graham crackers, apple sauce, bread making materials, peanut butter and honey, cereal, rice, and assorted pastas.

Getting a House

By the time we signed the lease, the one thing that I really remembered about the house we were going to rent was that it had a huge bathroom.

Energy and Electricity

And I make bad jokes.

Shall we dance?

The fairy godmothers are actually hillbillies, the prince is something of a dud, and the mice are a lot more concerned about where they're going to get their next meal than about anything that's going on with Cinderella.

An Oberlin in the real world sighting

I've always liked "This Land is Your Land," mainly because in first grade we were allowed to use the pointer to point out things like the redwood forests and the gulf stream waters.

Oberlin in the outside world?

There's the thumbs, but there's also a crude representation of a llama (apparently) to make a proposal and knocking in the air to signal agreement with a statement.

Dear women's hall, you're the best

Then, abruptly, the year ended. Everyone went home.

On the size of the campus

The thing is, I know there are more people out there than the ones I see around all the time.

My semester in quotations

In high school, I did this thing called The Quote Book.

CSA Hot Pot

Maybe this bit of sentimentality was brought on by the fact that I was standing in a normal kitchen, not a tiny dorm kitchen or an industrial-sized co-op kitchen.

Something about the chem/biochem department

Now, I even dream about research. And I mean that quite literally.

The classes for which I registered

In case anyone missed it, I'll say the point of this post again, in plain English: I'm going to be a senior.

5 Questions Every Prospie Should Ask

First, a PSA. CSA is hosting Asian Pop Night this Friday at the 'Sco.

Asian Pop Night, etc.

I pointed out that no one in CSA is going to go out there and start any sort of dance-off, but that bit of sanity seemed to fall on deaf ears.

More about prospective students

I am a big fan of free pizza. I am, however, not as big a fan of prospies.


To do this, I siphon off a few milimoles of the mixture, using a lot of liquid nitrogen and a pretty intimidating vacuum system, bring it over to the GC, and shoot it through. Basically.

College Orchestra! (not our official name)

Here's some exciting news: the Oberlin College Arts and Sciences Orchestra got chartered this week!

Thinking about summer

(To avoid thinking about more pressing matters. Like the work I have due tomorrow.)

Lots of Thinking

Really, though, all I want to do is read young adult novels. I can't, though, because I have more important work to do.

Chinese New Year Banquet!

How exactly were we supposed to tape a tea light in a lantern? Did that even matter, since they wouldn't be able to see the tea light anyway?

And by Chinese New Year, I mean three weeks in a row

Some of my friends cure this problem by volunteering in the local school district. I solved this problem by attending the East Asian Studies Department's Chinese New Year celebration.

I've finally figured out my schedule

Here's what I'm taking this semester, not including the various extracurricular activities (Orchestra! Violin lessons! Dance!)

My Winter Term in Lists

One good thing about being back at Oberlin: The weather is better.

Trial by Fire

I did my best deer in the headlights impression, at which point the guy I was assisting said not to worry, he'd help me with some of the talking.

What language barrier?

Usually our conversations involved me trying to express myself with improperly conjugated verbs and him good naturedly pretending that he understood what I was saying.

Photo Update

There were volcanoes. Volcanoes are awesome.

And for the rest of January...

It's not the traditional research position that biochem majors normally pursue, but then again, I'm not a typical biochem major.

Winter Term Plans

I've been listening to a lot of Jesus Christ Superstar in Spanish.

Things to do besides studying

We had what I think was our biggest audience ever, and then we had cake.

To do before Winter Term

I am officially very concerned.

When the cat's away...

And we also borrowed my RA's beanbag chair.

More about my tortured path to CSA

I arrived early, because I still went early to things back then, and loitered around outside the door of the room in Wilder until I felt it was a proper time to enter.


Right before I left for summer vacation, my Facebook status read, 'Zoë goes to the coolest church ever.'

A field trip

After a brief walk in the crisp night air during which I considered making pirate jokes, we arrived at the hospital.

A rather belated post about a very important mission

Mission: Get Zoë home for fall break

Culture Festival

Various student organizations and groups had tables set up around Tappan Square, with food and activities available from their respective cultures.

The end of the world as we know it

I turned back to my computer to further my electronic communication, and found everyone offline. So I refreshed the page. And it never came back.

Lions, Vicodin, and Audience Participation

If you've been following along with us, you'll know that this past weekend we celebrated the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. I was mainly in charge of directing the skit. I took this very seriously.

Cleveland, or And then I ate food

Did you know there's more than one type of bok choy? There's Taiwanese bok choy and baby bok choy and all these other leafy green vegetables that look like bok choy but aren't called bok choy.

And then I got sick

It wasn't fun trying to get all my work done and sleep more and walk around with a sore throat, but I managed it pretty well, with the help of cough drops and perseverance. Until Sunday night.

Another post about dancing

By the conclusion of the meeting, we'd decided that the guy who did the lion dance last year would pass on his knowledge to those who were interested.

My schedule: no longer in flux

Every day so far, I've had something to do during every hour until ten o'clock at night.

Pertinent details about me

I do math on a calculator faster in Reverse Polish Notation.

Over the past week

I've also been crashing international students' events.

My packing list

Funny story: One time, I forgot to bring my concert pants and didn't realize until I was trying to get dressed for a concert.


Showing a little foresight for once, I started investigating jobs that would allow me to arrive early on campus, with somewhat minimal success.

More things that still hold true

It can't rain ALL the time, you're thinking, and that's quite true. It snows or hails by way of variety.

Dining hall conversations

Once we'd finished eating, we parted ways, and I expected not to see her again, unless we wound up in a class together somewhere down the road.


Remember when I was talking about opportunities? Allow me to expound upon another opportunity that I encountered late last semester, involving dance. Just to shake things up a bit, I'm not going to write about Indian dance again.

Information through the ages

There are two main types of social life in Oberlin: (1) the inexpensive, and (2) the not-so-inexpensive.

Music Opportunities for Non-Music Majors

Want to make your own banjo out of a gourd? You can do it. Want to be part of a gamelan ensemble? You can do that, too.

Why Oberlin?

"You know," one of them said, "Chewbacca is the only one in his family with a normal name."

A vignette from finals week

Luck, however, was with us, in the form of a front loader.

What's that about the bathrooms?

You may or may not have heard that the bathrooms are gender-neutral at Oberlin. This may or may not concern you, your parents, or someone else whom you hold dear.

My schedule: in flux

I'm currently signed up for four classes, only two of which are ones that I'm actually going to take.


Really, the only solution was to stay up until around 3:00 AM, listening to hit songs from the nineties, reading picture books, and learning the proper way to put on bangles.

It's the end of the year. No, really.

"Zoë," one girl said, "You're halfway done with college." It didn't seem possible. It still doesn't. And, of course, it's true.

How I picked my major

This change in interests confused me for a while and made me seriously consider a chem major instead of a biochem major. Practicality and time eventually intervened.

Committee meetings are better over lunch

I got a little overzealous and started quizzing people on their "action items," which I think only confused the issue.

How to put together a successful CSA film festival

Watch some of the movie. Become rather confused because you've missed the first fifteen minutes. Snicker at inappropriate moments.

How to combine Ralph Nader, bad poetry, Bleak House, music, and chemistry into a single blog entry

For some reason, that computer program for writing Western musical scores didn't want to comply to my demands that it blend with Indian ways of notating music. I'm not really sure why it was so stubborn.

And now, a love letter to pit orchestras

That extra dash of terror because I don't really know what will happen next in my part is always exciting.

In support of my public library

I could spend the rest of this post muttering to myself about the eight books I read over break. However, I don't think that's what you're here for.

"Translation is not a matter of words only..."

I went into the first lesson armed with ten years of violin lessons, one year of music theory, and a textbook.

"Get your feathers out of my nose"

Papageno, essentially a humanized bird and bird catcher, sang about how he wanted to catch chicks. And when he said "chicks," he didn't mean those little yellow baby chickens.

"And at first you're not so worried. It's just Geneva."

He did say that there is a small chance that it will create a micro black hole that will gobble up Geneva and then the rest of the world.

Lunar New Year Banquet

From what I saw of it from my place serving "beef in spicy sauce," the performance was great.

Housing (or, new methods of procrastination)

It must have looked pretty odd--all those mini lanterns hanging from tree limbs and about five of us with cans of spray paint looking like members of a graffiti ExCo, but you get my point.

I'm cool, too!

And one more interesting thing. This is my thirteenth post here. I figured publishing it tomorrow would be a little much.

My Winter Term in Lists

Since my semester hasn't really started yet, I present you a summary of my Winter Term, instead of a description of my new classes.

On picking my Winter Term

He proceeded to talk about a hotel that once existed, the spirit that haunted it, and the bomoh they hired to appease it.

Winter Term: Last Year, continued

This mix of people leads me to a very important topic: food. Malaysia, and particularly Penang, where my grandparents live, is well-known on those travel cooking shows for having amazing food. Those shows aren't lying.

Winter Term: A Retrospective

Though they all speak English, I've come to realize that what my uncle once said is very true: the conversation will start out in English, move on to a mixture of Chinese and English, and finally settle completely into Chinese.

Or, I mean to write about Winter Term and write about winter instead

I am not spending my Winter Term in Oberlin. Instead, I decided that the best thing to do was to actually experience winter.

In which I relocate to the Asia House lounge

I've gained a certain amount of respect - if not understanding - for mass spectrometry and I've begun to understand how the microwave in the kitchen works, at least for making Ramen noodles.

Chemistry Scene Investigation, part two (CSI)

The trial began with the judge (who looked suspiciously like our professor, just decked out in a green choir robe) banging with his mortar and pestle to call the court to order.


You can tell how stressed I am by how many lists I've made, and right now I'm making a lot.


As I write this (but not as I type this, because I'll be doing that later), I'm drinking egg nog left over from my dinner at Lord/Saunders. That's right, I ventured to south campus to eat dinner tonight.

A bit of my weekend...

I spent most of my time last week trying to memorize a dance for the International Festival, which was held on Saturday.

How to solve a crime

The sign above the door to my analytical chem lab now says "Oberlin Crime Lab." For the rest of the semester, we're solving a crime that occurred at the Olympics involving arson, secret notes, drugs, and missing silver medals.

Notes on dancing

This weekend, being parents' weekend, saw many, many events. The one I attended today was FELL, the 2008 student dance concert, which consisted of pieces choreographed and performed solely by students.

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