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As freshers week draws slowly closer, it can cause many to reflect on their own first-year experiences. The highs of meeting new people and starting university compared with the lows of deadlines and eating a bad takeaway early Wednesday morning knowing that you will not be making your 9 am in just a few hours. These experiences are so closely related to music. This may be due to a song playing in Sugar when you first went. It could be an album that you listened to with a new friend which you bonded over. Could simply be an artist you listened to a lot in that first year of University. We have asked some of our writers and editors to reflect on the music from their first year and freshers.
There are certain songs to me that scream Freshers Week. The main one that comes to mind is ‘Promises’ by Sam Smith.
Picture the scene: my first night of Freshers Week, me and my flatmates are a few drinks in, the kitchen light above the hob adds the only atmosphere we can create in a university kitchen. Inevitably someone pulls out a speaker and soon the opening beats of Sam Smith pulsate through the kitchen. I had only heard this song recently before Freshers Week, but now it is always synonymous with my first days – and nights – at university.
The other musical theme that comes to mind is a throwback to the days of 2008 when Scouting for Girls were on the scene. I have a vague recollection of me and my flatmate working in the corridor of our flat – why we didn’t opt for a table I couldn’t tell you – the pursuit of work was soon abandoned and instead we were dancing to the sounds of ‘She’s So Lovely’ by Scouting for Girls.
My final pick is the Mamma Mia 2 soundtrack; all of it. At some point in the opening weeks of university, Take2 put on a screening of Mamma Mia 2 and those superfans among us attempted to convert and annoy our anti-ABBA flatmates and refused to stop singing the soundtrack for weeks after.
As a 21-year-old master’s student, my freshers week was three whole years ago now. 2017 had some bangers, like Chanel by Frank Ocean and Sign of the Times by Harry Styles, but they weren’t the soundtrack to my first ever week at uni. Although I was downing double vodkas in Hustle nearly every night, I still remember the song that dominated the whole week: New Rules by Dua Lipa. Every single night it would play at least four or five times, no matter where we were: Sugar, Daltons, pre-drinks in the flat… Despite not being the biggest fan of the song (her new stuff is much better), I can still remember every word, along with the dance my flatmates made up to go along with it. If it comes on in a club now, you can catch me throwing some shapes on the dance floor with my 3-4-5 VKs.
I miss being a fresher. It was a simpler time of always having time to say yes to a film night and late-night drunken Nintendo Switch parties in the Learning Zone, and as such, so much music from that time follows me around now, as a ragged final year, to memories of just hoping to scrape a 40% and being happy. When I think back to first year, artists like Panic! At The Disco (who I had the pleasure of seeing live that year), The Band CAMINO and IDKHow But They Found Me spring to mind, as both the consistent playlist fillers behind our group Cards Against Humanity nights, as well as the artists I’d sing along to in the shower while all my flatmates got a bit cross. Songs such as Berenstein (The Band CAMINO) and Do It All The Time (IDKHow) are the two that come to mind in particular as wonderful songs that powered me through the difficult times of trying not to die of boredom mid-essay, or cheering me up after a particularly brutal creative writing workshop before I got drunk around the dinner table as always. My freshers year was also one where I first discovered Eurovision, as I was dragged along by my friends pessimistically to Grizedale Bar to watch the final, and by the end was shouting at the judge’s scores.
Lake Malawi should have won – fact.
Starting university usually brings out plenty of mixed feelings, and I definitely felt them all. Whilst I was excited for my first year at university, I was also super nervous and knew from nights away that I was prone to incurable homesickness. But going to university is almost like a fresh start, carving out a new identity and your place within the small campus bubble. The possibilities at university feel endless in the people you can meet and the things you can try so a great sense of curiosity and anticipation also came in large doses. Like many other freshers, I was excited, nervous, optimistic, and insecure all at once.
So, whilst all these feelings were bubbling away within me, what song was I listening to? One that I think sums up a lot of my feelings was ‘Play’ by iamamiwhoami and is the song that reminds me of my first year completely. It has a strange start and is akin to the same unsure feelings I felt at the start of university. You aren’t entirely sure what she’s saying. But then I liked to let her words wash over me. It sounds almost other-worldly, and in the strange rhythm, I can’t help but sway and relax. Iamamiwhoami – or Jonna Lee – comes across as carefree and she really just goes for it. Her vocals are great and whilst the song starts slow, her voice grows into an untroubled, confident shout. The tinkling of the instruments at the end leave the song hopeful and encouraging, and as they faded away it left me with the confidence to put myself out there and make the most of university.