My parents keep telling me that college is the best time of your life. I don't know if that's true, however it's definitely a time when one grows the most. As a senior, I have been reflecting on my four years of at AU, and pondering whether I did them right.
I definitely went through a few phases and friendships while also holding three internships and two part time jobs like a good wonk, but I’m not totally satisfied. So in an effort to analyze my own four years in college, I revisited a few playlists I created from my freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years, and compiled a music diary mixtape.
Freshman year from “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” to “This Time Tomorrow.”
Everyone has their own start to college. For some the true beginning of college is the first time going to a party with strangers, for others it's the first day of class or dorm move-in day. However for me, the start of college began in my childhood home with my mom banging on my door and yelling at me to get up and caulk the bathroom sink before I left for AU. This was a project that I had neglected all summer.
With three hours of sleep, due to a late night surprise party that my friends threw me, I quickly completed the task and was on the road. Traveling with my family in a van packed with records and clothes, I remember leaving the city limits of Chicago on my way to Washington D.C. As we pulled away from Chicago’s skyline, my last glimpse of home was spent listening to “New York I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down.” I substituted the city of Chicago for New York.
My first few months at AU were terrible. I got involved with a few organizations on campus, but the social aspect of college was not paying off. I spent the first half of freshman year chasing friendships and trying to fit a mold of a chill music nerd.
This did not help. It wasn't until the second semester of my freshman year that my social life kicked off, however I wouldn't make actual close friends until sophomore year. I spent the rest of freshman year going to the occasional dorm and house parties alone. It wasn't until I boarded a train to go home to Illinois for the summer that I realized how much I actually accomplished. While leaving the District I listened to “This Time Tomorrow,” as I saw my freshman year sink away with the capital behind it.
Sophomore Year from “Instant Disassembly” to “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.”
After spending a summer working in the sun as a groundskeeper for a tennis club, I began to realize how much I loved home, but for some reason I could not wait to return to D.C. While filling up water gallons and sweeping tennis courts, I often listened to “Instant Disassembly,” on my iPod before getting off work and going out for the night.
During sophomore year I stopped chasing people for friendship and began making lasting friends. However, I was still stuck on the south side of campus. Instead of Anderson I was now in Centennial Hall. Still I found myself lonely at times, however that changed when I helped found a fraternity and got more involved on campus. There were still some lonely nights similar to freshman year, but sophomore year was much better in terms of academics, friends and parties. On down nights I found myself learning the guitar. The first song I learned was “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere.” I remember playing the tune on my guitar while my neighbors banged on my walls for playing too loud.
Junior Year from “Keep the Customer Satisfied” to “Just Like Heaven.”
After my sophomore year I held an internship at a news company working in Farragut Square. It was my first time living in an apartment and having an internship in the District. For the majority of my summer I found myself running around the DMV in a suit and tie in 90 degree weather trying to fit in and satisfy all the Washington hotshots that I interacted with. I often found myself listening to “Keep the Customer Satisfied;” as it was one of the few songs I could relate to while on my own for the summer.
My junior year was somewhat of a blur as I got even more involved and began realizing that I loved to be overcommitted. I made the largest chunk of my college friends that year while peaking in popularity. However with commitment and popularity came anxiety and a lack of control over my life. One of the breaking points was after receiving a call that my loving mommom (grandma) had died. On the train ride home in disbelief I listened to “Just Like Heaven,” and accepted that I still had very little control over my life.
Senior Year from “Go Cubs Go” to “Glory Days.”
During the summer before my senior year I interned at the 9:30 Club as a marketing intern. I saw tons of free concerts, got deeply into vaporwave music and gathered an abundance of fun stories better left unshared. The first semester of my senior year flew by fast, with an election that no one saw coming. The only great memory I really have is going to Cleveland Park Bar and Grill almost every night during the World Series to watch my Chicago Cubs win it all for the first time in 108 years. Being an excited Cubs fan, people would often buy my friends and I drinks after a win. The song “Go Cubs Go” echoed throughout the halls of the bar every night.
For the majority of my second semester, in my last year of college, I have contracted a large case of senioritis. Although I occasionally stress out about applying for jobs and finding a place to live, I have spent the majority of this semester taking in final glimpses of the friends that I made in college, some of whom I will probably lose in time. I have decided to stay in D.C. post graduation before I eventually decide to move back to Chicago.
In a way I feel old already. People have begun to call me their dad, and I don't stay up till 3 a.m. on a Monday night, like I use to do freshman year.
I realize I don't have many regrets looking back at my time at AU, now looking at my music diary mixtape. Each song represents a certain experience I have had, whether it be from my first day off college to me today counting down to the last day of being a student. Enjoy.