The Culture at Otterbein
Otterbein puts a lot of emphasis on allowing its students to “be themselves,” and because of this, the college has spent a lot of time in making the campus as friendly as possible. There are a lot of green spaces for students to relax outside, large windows in the buildings to make the space look more open, and all of the buildings are well-marked and easy to find. Along with these features, Otterbein also has an interesting mix of red-bricked academic buildings and houses serving a variety of functions for the university.
One of the few services that Otterbein does not have on campus is a convenience store (small supermarket or ?????). In order to get groceries, you would need to go into the town of Westerville, where you will find many shops and stores to get your basic products. Although everything on campus is within walking distance, in order to get to the grocery stores in Westerville, I would advise that you find someone with a car. This should not be a huge problem since all first year students are allowed a car on-campus, and many do choose to bring one. I would advise that you find some “car buddies” early on who might be able to help you later on in the year with runs to the grocery store, lifts to and from Port Columbus, etc. This will save you a lot of time and money!
Housing at Otterbein
In terms of life within the residence halls (usually referred to as a “dorm”), Otterbein has about 8 halls (all co-ed) on campus that house students who choose to live on campus. First and second year students not living within a 30 mile radius of the school are required to live in a dorm, and after the first two years, they may choose to move to an on-campus apartment, or to housing off campus and then traveling to and from school. One of the great things about Otterbein’s dorms is that some actually stay open during breaks. Those who cannot travel home during a break period and wish to stay on-campus are allowed to do so, just as long as they have notified the college beforehand.
Lifestyle on Campus
Campus life for the international student should be quite interesting. Otterbein is known for being a “dry campus,” which means that alcohol is banned from campus;
likewise, Westerville is also a “dry city” – you cannot buy alcohol anywhere in Westerville and there are no bars either.. (Ok, apparently we didn’t do our research well enough, the town of Westerville is no longer dry, but Otterbein campus still does not allow alcohol on its campus at all) Of course, this does not mean that drinking does not occur (although “illegally”) on campus and elsewhere in Westerville. According to a current Otterbein student, you just have to know people who are planning these gatherings. Of course, if you choose not to stay on campus for your “night life,” there is always the option of going into Columbus, where you will find house parties at OSU (Ohio State University) and clubbing in the Arena District.
Although the “night life,” at Otterbein might leave something to be desired, the college does try to do its best in making their international students feel as welcome as possible. Aside from having various cultural clubs, Otterbein also hosts an “International Week” – a week devoted to celebrating various cultures on campus. Activities within this week include performances, demonstrations, and also an ethnic dinner night. When Otterbein’s international students aren’t participating in these cultural activities (or studying!), they can also be seen playing on club teams. Playing club sports in college is a great way to meet people of all backgrounds.
Overall, I think Otterbein is a great option for anyone who is considering a liberal arts college in Ohio. Although it is not as well known as some other schools academically, it is still very easy to fall in love with Otterbein: a lovely campus, incredibly friendly people, and many resources available to students. I think it’s very possible to “Be Yourself” at Otterbein, and hope that some of you will take that chance.
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