Let’s get this out-of-the-way: I’m a straight up college cliché.
This is not to say I was painting my face in school colors and tailgating every weekend. On the contrary, I went to DePaul, a school so unlike the college experiences I saw in movies that I sometimes think I missed out on real college.
I’m a college cliché because those were years that changed me more than any other. I walked into the dorm a shy, insecure, straight-laced girl and walked out of my dump of a college apartment a brash, slightly less insecure woman who had made just enough mistakes to hold great memories.
Play T-Pain and I can taste the stale beer sipped from a Solo cup in a sweaty three flat. Try a tune from The Dandy Warhols and I am back to the quad in an instant, sun beams providing nourishment after a long winter, listening to a study playlist crafted with more thought than more than my final papers. Hearing The Roots will prompt the story of the time I almost got in a fight with a guy who wouldn’t get out of our personal space at a campus concert.
Is music a big deal to everyone’s college career? For me, songs bridged the gap of nervous conversation between strangers.
In my first week of classes year, on the back of a city bus, a group of kids in my freshman seminar bonded over our shared musical memories like wondering if the members of Hanson were boys or girls, knowing the iconic Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme by heart, and watching in awe as a hijab-wearing girl spit the lyrics to “Ho” better than anyone I’ve heard to this day.
Musical cues could draw me from my desk to my suitemate without explanation. Nights spent with friends dancing in our living room were as fulfilling as nights out on the town getting free shots from leering barflies – maybe even more so.
It helps, of course, that living room dance parties are an inexpensive source of entertainment for broke college students.