I, like many of you, am a huge fan of music. I listen when I walk, when I run, when I drive, when I get ready for the day, when I go out with friends, etc. (my Spotify even told me I listened to 35,000 minutes of music in the last year…YIKES). Whenever I can listen, I do, and it’s because music is a medium through which we feel free to let loose and whip out our best dance moves and singing voices. I’m a firm believer that work should be balanced with play in order to have the best possible experience. So here is a glimpse of my first year in college through the music I listened to each month. If you haven’t heard these songs, please give them a listen; they are some of my favorites!
As a member of the varsity soccer team, my teammates and I arrive on campus six weeks early for fall preseason. The quarter system makes for a later start to the academic year than colleges with semester systems, so we have to be ready to play other teams early on. Preseason was one of the best experiences of my life. It was full of hard work, team building, and successes. As we all walked to and from practice, I would take charge of connecting my Bluetooth speaker and blasting some of my favorite upbeat workout hits for the group. One song that I loved to play was “Glorious (feat. Skylar Grey)” by Macklemore. Listening to this star-studded collaboration created a light environment because everyone on my team knew the words and felt comfortable singing along. Music was a great way for me to bond with my new teammates, and I highly recommend playing music at any social gathering in which you are meeting new people, to alleviate awkward silence and create common bonds.
Once first-year students arrive on campus in September, Orientation Week (O-Week) begins. UChicago makes incoming students feel at-home by planning a number of free and exciting events. I remember going to the Logan Center, the hub for arts on campus, to listen to student-led bands perform and to get some free swag (which is undoubtedly one of the biggest and most important parts of O-Week!). I also recall going to an Off-Off Campus show, the second oldest student improvisational theater troupe in the country. But my favorite thing I did during O-Week was attend the silent disco in Henry Crown gymnasium. The wood floor was turned into a neon palace complete with roller skating, balloons, and lights. There was also a giant area for silent disco, something I had never done before. My friends and I tried it out, listening to “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas on repeat, and it ended up being a great experience. Although I didn’t know what to expect at this O-Week event, I went anyway, and couldn’t be more happy that I did. You know what they say: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
One of my favorite songs in October was “Vertigo” by Khalid. I love how this song “feels” when I listen to it (if you haven’t heard it before and don’t know what I’m talking about, give it a try, it literally feels like you’re floating through space). Coincidentally, in my humanities class, Media Aesthetics: Image, Text, Sound, we watched a movie called Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock. We analyzed this film each day for about one week, and it opened my eyes to so many different perspectives and ways to study film. This movie changed the way I thought, the way I saw things, the way I watched movies. In the end, that’s what the humanities sequence is all about: learning how to see themes, trends, and details that aren’t immediately apparent. I loved this class and truly believe that I progressed as a student and writer over the course of the year. If you let yourself learn and really engage with the material, you will see progress; I guarantee it.
Until I arrived in college, I had been so busy juggling club soccer, high school soccer, and high school basketball with school, social life, and family time. When I got to college and I experienced a true winter off-season for the first time in my life, I realized how much I loved supporting my friends in their various endeavors. Whether it was going to an improv show to see my friends perform, a Greek Life fundraiser to watch my classmate dance on stage, or a basketball game to cheer on my roommate, I cherished every moment of being a fan, and I highly recommend it to any student who is trying to get used to the surplus of added free time in college. The basketball warmup playlist featured “Happier (feat. Bastille)” by Marshmello. My advice to prospective students would be to take time out of your life to be there for your friends -- they will appreciate it, and don’t worry, you’ll have some fun along the way!
As a fun and fitting way to spend my time in the winter, I embarked on a journey to learn every lyric to “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. I would love to report that I successfully accomplished this task, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. I tried. And failed. Miserably. Should I have been studying while trying? Probably.
If you were to ask me who my favorite artists are, I would definitely say Ariana Grande is one of them. She is someone who embodies female beauty and empowerment. She is someone I have loved since I was a child, someone who is relatable, someone I get so excited to see in concert (Lollapalooza 2019, here we come!). When her new song "Thank you, Next ” was released, I went crazy. I mean, who didn’t? It’s all we heard on the radios, in stores, in cars. And don’t even get me started on how great that music video is (Mean Girls, anyone?). For me, it sparked some New Year’s resolutions such as to quit procrastinating, being messy, and eating unhealthy (thank you, next, Java Chip ice cream)!
Ah yes, the February slump. Midterm season is well under way. What is a more fitting song than "The Climb” by Miley Cyrus? A song about light at the end of the tunnel and pushing past tough times. I would often belt this one out with my peers in my dorm (this is one of the greatest sing-along songs in history in my opinion, voice cracks and all). Through personal experience, and listening to “The Climb,” I can say that the dark days do not last forever, and you will make it to the end!
The sun started shining again in March, but as excited as I was about a few sunny days, I was even more excited about the release of the new Jonas Brothers song,“ Sucker." When I was growing up, the Jonas Brothers were a HUGE hit, so basically, this was #thereturn. They were even the first concert I went to… with Hannah Montana on stage alongside them, of course. As an exercise during spring soccer season, my coach and I decided that a great motivator for me is to play for my 7-year-old self who was carefree and played solely because she loved the game. That was a picture in my head that always made me smile. Doing/seeing/watching/listening to things that reminded me of home or of my childhood was something that made my transition into college and away from home feel almost seamless.
"Old Town Road (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus)” by Lil Nas X has been on top of the charts for the past 12 weeks and counting. This song exploded right when it was released and proved to be an instant crowd pleaser (okay but did anyone else hear “hotel room” instead of “old town road” when it first came out or just me?). This is a song for everyone; one for the country-lovers, the people who love hip-hop, and the pop fanatics. I remember dancing to this song with my friends at parties and belting it at the top of my lungs at Maravillas, the nearby Mexican restaurant that features karaoke. My friends and I loved this song so much that we would gallop and dosey-doe around a public area when this song randomly came on the loud speakers because, really, how could you not?
One of the reasons I love Billie Eilish is because she is just one of those unapologetic up and coming artists who creates her own type of music without any outside influence. We can all learn from her ability to dismiss critics and stay true to herself through thick and thin. My favorite song she performs is "When the Party’s Over." This song title was especially true in May when the school year was really coming to a close and the party was actually almost over. May was a time when I made sure to spend extra time with my friends, neighbors, teammates, and layers of support in my UChicago House (Resident Assistants, Resident Heads, and Resident Deans). because I realized that I wouldn’t be seeing them as much once summer began. These were people who were too good to let go after an entire year of getting to know them so well. I went out of my way to grab lunch, coffee, literally anything with them because I knew I would miss it soon enough. My advice to prospective students is to not be scared of making new friends early on because, before you know it, your time with them in the school year will be over. I wish I had spent more time with the people I loved throughout the entire year instead of cramming it in at the end, only when I realized summer was fast approaching.
With finals week soon approaching, I knew I had to find a song that sounded like summer and motivated me to get to the end. At first, I struggled to find the perfect song. Then, I went home for a weekend and listened to my dad’s playlist when he blasted it throughout the house. He is a huge Quinn XCII fan, and he introduced me to the song "Winnebago" (feat. Quinn XCII and Daniel Wilson) by Gryffin. It’s an older song, but I hadn’t heard it before, and come on, what a great title! If you’re reading this in the summertime, have a listen -- it won’t disappoint. This song helped me with one final push to the end, and I don’t know what I would have done without it. Finding motivators is extremely important during finals week, so find what it is that gets you going, and don’t ever let it go.