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Music has been a huge part of my life. Ever since I was young, I have been listening to many different genres and artists that allowed my music taste to become very open-minded. In a way, music has helped narrate my life as days, months, and years went by. Today, as a third-year CU Boulder student, I could not help but reminisce of my first few days at the university, and the songs that helped inspire my freshman self as I tried to adjust to the new college environment. In this article, I would like to share a list of songs that may give you some encouragement and nostalgia as you step into your college journey (just like they did to me).

1. “lost stars” by adam levine

Although this song originally came from the 2013 musical film “Begin Again”, I only first heard it during the summer of 2019, which was right before I entered college. Despite only hearing “Lost Stars” rather recently, I always wondered how differently I would have thought of it had I listened to it when I was younger. Nevertheless, the lyrics and sweet melody of this song prove to be timeless by depicting a story of all sorts of life experiences.

2. “Ain’t it fun” by paramore

I remember someone telling me that before she was dropped off on her first day of college, her dad played this song in the car as he drove her to her university. He played “Ain’t It Fun” because he wanted to remind her that from that day onwards, she would be on her own, entering a part of her life that isn’t all fun and games like it used to be. This song has been a memorable one for her ever since. Before hearing about this story, I always thought of this song as a happy, lighthearted tune that you can play during road trips. However, when I listened to the lyrics more closely, I eventually learned that it could also depict the feeling of being independent as you step into a whole new reality.

3. “Changes” by lauv

This song mainly talks about the changes that the artist, Lauv, plans to make in his life for his own benefit. However, I conceived the meaning of this song in a different light: instead of thinking of the changes that I have to make for myself, I want to find ways to adjust to all the changes happening in my life that are beyond my control.

4. “light on” by maggie rogers

This was a song I listened to on repeat on the day I found out I got accepted into CU Boulder. Since then, I would always be reminded of the hope, gratitude, and belonging I felt that day whenever I would listen to it.

5. “21st century machine” by catie turner

As the new generation continues to evolve at a very fast pace, there were times when I felt as if I could not keep pace with all the different trends that I believed would help me fit in with everyone else. This was especially true when I came to CU Boulder, where it seemed like almost everyone around me was able to keep up with everything new, except for me. However, this song helped me realize that there are probably other people out there, not just in CU Boulder, who are in the same situation as me. It sends a message inspiring many of us to live life at our own pace without feeling the pressure to be just like everyone else.

6. “who i am” by nive

I first heard this song in April of 2020, when the pandemic had just started to roll out. On top of the many concerns and worries I had surrounding the breakout of COVID-19, being compelled to stay home every day caused me to ponder a lot about my identity. As a result, I began to think that there were many flaws in my personality that I had to fix. However, the more I listened to this song, the more it inspired me to appreciate who I really am as a person, as well as the identities of those around me.

7. “boulder” by cate downey

The title says it all. Who could go wrong with a song title of our university’s city, written by a CU Boulder student, being on the playlist of another CU Boulder student? I first heard this song in a Zoom meeting I attended, and I could not stop listening to it ever since.

Now that you know about my story behind each of these songs, I hope you can give some of them a listen and see if they have a spot on your college playlist. If none of these songs inspire you, or they are just not your cup of tea, that is totally okay. I wish you the best of luck for the rest of your college journey!

Gennah Penalosa is currently a social media assistant and writer for Her Campus CU Boulder. She is a junior studying finance and marketing at the Leeds School of Business. When she is not doing homework, you can find her hiking, listening to music, or drawing the face of a random celebrity.
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