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The sounds of college life

Take an immersive sonic journey into the magical moments and life-changing experiences that make college life come alive

The sounds of college life

College is about much more than just going to class, taking tests, or even earning that degree. It’s also about facing fears, finding your footing, and newfound freedoms. It’s about getting involved, making new friends, taking chances, and learning more about yourself.

To document these other sides of campus life, Major Insight collaborated with Mack Hagood, associate professor of Media and Communication, and students in his Sound and Music in Media Cultures course to create fascinating soundscapes capturing the fun activities and life-changing experiences that have all helped many students finding community and connection on campus.

The Sounds of College Life features vignettes about:

  • Finding comradery and community by pursuing a niche personal passion.
  • Making deeper cultural connections with heritage and tradition though religion.   
  • Overcoming isolation and uncertainty by evoking familiar feelings of home. 
  • The significance of Black Sororities for historically marginalized students. 

The Sounds of College Life is available now on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, and wherever podcasts are found.

Scan the QR code below to listen on your phone. 

sounds of college life qr code

Read the transcript

Speaker The views and opinions expressed in this podcast by the hosts and guests may or may not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Miami University. 

Speaker Freshman year I came in undecided.

Speaker I'm finance, entrepreneurship, anthropology.

Speaker I'm a senior architecture student.

Speaker I'm involved in the blockchain club here.

Speaker I'm very passionate about studying abroad.

Speaker Classes are going great. 

Speaker And then obviously very involved with my sorority.

Speaker I'm thriving.

Meredith Hi, i'm Meredith Aliff, and this is Major Insight. College is about so much more than just going to class, taking tests or writing papers. It's more than just collecting credits, landing an internship, or even finally earning that degree. It's also about facing fears, finding your footing and newfound freedoms. It's about getting involved, making new friends, taking chances, and learning more about yourself. Recently, we collaborated with the Department of Media, Journalism and Film to explore these other sides of school. Students from Professor Mack Hagood's Sound and Music and Media Cultures class produced soundscapes documenting many different organizations and events across campus. Some are fun activities. Others have been life changing experiences. But they've all helped many students find their place and purpose on campus. So we hope you enjoy this special episode called The Sounds of College Life.

Anna So I'm Anna Mueller. I'm a Strat Com major with an entrepreneurship minor. And the other members in my group are Katie Kerr, Chris Matthews, and Alyssa Duke.

Meredith Great. So you have a very fun college moment that I have a connection to. So do you want to talk about what your college moment is and kind of why you chose it?

Anna Yes. So I decided ... we decided to do the college moment on the Miami Misfitz, which I know you're part of.

Meredith Yes, my acapella group. 

Anna Yes. So the whole thing sparked from when my sister was a freshman and we were moving her in and she was super excited and everything, but she told me that she was worried about where she would sing on campus. Since, at home, she was always singing in the car, in the shower. And when we heard about Miami Misfitz, I was like, Why don't you try out? And she did, and she loves it. And it was kind of just one of those things that I thought, as college students, we come here and we think like, Oh yeah, I can join Greek life or something. But I feel like sometimes it's hard to find a niche club for your talents or your interests. So it was kind of a way for our group to convey the fact that there's something for everyone.

Meredith Absolutely. Well, I mean, I had a very similar experience coming in as a freshman. I like really wanted to get involved with singing in some way, especially because I wasn't studying it, but I knew that I liked it so much. And The Misfitz was just like such a clear answer for me. And it's been so amazing. And I love Sarah so much.

So what do you think that your sound kind of captures about college life, like something unique or like a unique perspective that it kind of reveals about college life? 

Anna Yeah. I feel like you kind of touched on coming to college and not wanting to study it. Like, I remember Sarah came here and was talking about singing, and my dad was like, Well, why don't you join, like, have like a theater minor or something? And that's not really what she was going for. So I feel like it kind of conveys to incoming students that you can be involved in something that you're interested in with your talents and like bond with those people, but you can also be involved in other stuff. But also with this project, I also learned that you were a part of this podcast, which is really cool. So I think it was just kind of like the whole project was just a really cool way to, even as a junior, get to know what's on campus.

Meredith Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for coming on today. And let's take a listen to your project. 

Singing, Lyrics Let's go girls.

Sarah Hi, I am Sarah Mueller. I'm in the Miami Misfitz. The Misfitz is a all female acapella group.

Singing, Lyrics I wish it wasn't 4am. Standing here, saying to myself, you know you had to do it, I know. The greatest thing I ever did was I run. 

Sarah Definitely when I came as a freshman, I was like, What am I going to do with my time? I was like, Oh, I will only be able to sing in the shower. But then when I joined Misfitz, I'm close with girls that I never thought I would meet, and it makes me excited to come back to campus, like, all the time. I just look forward to what I'm going to do with all of those people. And now it's weird to go home and not be with all of the people.

Singing, Lyrics Sometimes in the middle of the night I can feel you again. But I just miss you, and I wish you were a better man.

Sarah Being involved is such a great thing. There's so many things on campus that literally everyone could find their community, and it will just help your experience grow, and you'll love the campus more.

Singing, Lyrics I'm burning the letters you wroter me. You can stand over there if you want. I don't know who you are. I have so much to learn. I'm re-reading your letters and watching them burn.

Jill So my name is Jill Reimer. I am a junior media and communication major with a film studies minor. Maya, do you want to go ahead.

Maya My name is Maya. I am also a junior media and communications major. I am not cool enough to have a minor, but I do have a thematic sequence in theater production.

Meredith Very cool. And who are we missing today?

Jill So our other teammates for this project were Steven Lee and Claudia Erni, which did amazing stuff. So shout out to them.

Meredith Very cool. So tell me kind of a little bit about this college moment and why you chose what you chose. 

Maya From the very beginning ... So I'm very involved in Jewish life here on campus, and it really has made like a big impact on my life. And I'm not super religious and there's this huge stigma about like being involved in any religion, not even Judaism -- you have to be very religious for, which is just not it at all. And I kind of wanted to encapsulate that in this project, to be like: it has done so much for so many students. And while the project is about Chabad, we didn't really want it to be just about Judaism, but because we had the time constraints, it could only be about Judaism. But one of the students that we talked to actually made a really good point. She said. You would never be embarrassed to go to a Christmas tree lighting, so why would you be embarrassed to go to Chabad or Hillel, which I just thought was really awesome. And I think it also this project really speaks to like how it's become a home away from home.

Jill Yeah, my pretty much covered it, but we definitely wanted to focus on a part of campus life that maybe doesn't get talked about as much, if you're not involved directly in the community. So like I myself am not involved, but it was really cool for me to learn a lot about it and to see how many people it means so much to.

Meredith And how cool of Hillel to have that open environment. Like, I know my sorority has done a lot of things with Hillel.

Jill Yes.

Meredith But I just think that's such an interesting, like, kind of unique thing to do as an organization, especially a religious organization, to say, come and hang out here. Well, thank you guys so much for your interview, and congrats on your awesome project.

Maya Thank you.

Halley [Rabbi speaking in background, crowd chatter] I always just kind of feel like I'm at home or with my family when I go to Shabbat and have people that share my same values and culture.

Background [Rabbi speaking in background, crowd chatter]

Halley My name's Halley Gregory. I'm a junior and I'm involved with Hillel.

Background [Rabbi speaking in background, crowd chatter]

Halley You go and, like, it's as much as you make it. Like, you can really go and have no religious context to it. Like, you can just go and eat delicious free food and, like, call it a day. So it's kind of nice. It's like super casual. Everyone's always really nice. It's like open seating. You can stop by. You don't have to stay for a designated amount of time. It just like they make it really, really easy.

Background [Rabbi speaking in background, crowd chatter].

Halley I grew very culturally Jewish, but like religiously, I never really, like, felt connected to Judaism. And here I feel like going to services and all of that like has really expanded that part of like my religious identity, more so than just the culture.

Background [Rabbi speaking in background, crowd chatter]

Halley Avoid thinking that it's like weird to do so because I think a lot of times with like religion, especially if it might not be like the dominant religion on your campus, it's kind of intimidating. You're like, Oh, I'm kind of embarrassed or whatever, but it's like: people wouldn't be embarrassed to, like, go to a Christmas tree lighting. So it's like, you shouldn't be embarrassed to go for your religious things.

Background [Rabbi speaking in background, crowd chatter]. 

Male Student The most rewarding things in life are the ones that require the most risk. So if someone's like very socially anxious, I mean, you probably won't get over that unless you just take that leap of faith and go to like a Shabbat dinner and, you know, talk to people and you'll realize like once you're actually like talking, it's like not that scary. And people are super nice and they want to be.  They want to get to know you. They want to give you things. They want to help. So that's what I would say to incoming freshmen.

Background [Rabbi speaking in background, crowd chatter] 

Marina I am Marina Carey. I am a media and culture major and entrepreneurship major.

Max And I'm Max Willins. I'm a media and culture major with English literature minor. And our teammates were Charlotte and Jared.

Marina So we chose bowling. So we wanted to kind of look into some entertainment options off campus that, like, people may have not considered in the past. Max got lucky enough to walk with some employees, like behind the pins and like records some sounds that way.

Meredith How cool!

Marina Yeah, that was definitely funny to watch him do that, like, standing on a bowling lane, like, boom mic. I'm sure the people in there were very confused on what we were doing, and it looked pretty funny.

Meredith Is there anything that you were surprised to learn about college life when you were doing the project?

Max It was interesting. It really felt like the true college experience going in there.

Marina We were also pretty surprised about the, like, different age groups and types of people at the bowling alley because we went there like 3 p.m. during the week. And there was an entire fraternity team practicing, which caught us off guard. And there was like some Talawanda high schoolers and middle schoolers. They had like walked from class, backpacks still on, to like go bowling. And that was super cute to watch. And then like some of the local residents and stuff, like also just bowling in their free time. It was just cool to see the variety of people that were all like partaking in this activity at like 3 p.m. one afternoon.

Background Bowling ball sounds, pins falling, music in background

Carson Hi, my name is Carson Davidson and I am a junior here at Miami. My freshman year was 2020 and so I had to move in during a pandemic, which was nuts. It was really hard to make friends, and it was incredibly difficult to even find the littlest things to do. And I remember checking out the bowling alley with a couple of people I kind of knew in my dorm, and that was nice. And it was less so about becoming friends with them, and it was more so about, Oh, this is the place here and this new and scary place that I feel something like I did back home where I'm comfortable, and I can see how this can become a home for me.

Lily Hi, my name is Lily McFadden. I am a junior at Miami University. Going out to the bars wasn't really my scene, but when we have free time my friends and I do like to try and get together and go bowling. One of my favorite times that I went bowling with my friends was after a long week we had three exams, a really hard biochem exam and a physiology exam. We were all just wiped. Like, all we wanted to do was sleep and relax. But I felt like I needed to rally the troops and go do something fun because we had worked so hard all week. So I texted in our group chat and was like, I'll be picking you up in 5 minutes. You better be outside. So I gathered everybody up and we just let loose and had a great time and we got to relieve all of our stress from the week and exams.

Carson My advice is find something that feels like home to you. For me, it's the bowling alley or my guitar, and I have built some life-long friendships because of those hobbies. So I would say the first and foremost thing you need to do is get some hobbies, I guess, and then you'll find like minded people who want to do the same. 

Jordan My name is Jordan Dubyak. My group members are Lauren Givens and Lily Edwards. So our college moment was focused on the Black sororities and fraternities here on campus. We wanted to ... our original discussion was kind of talking about how we can focus on diversity on campus. And it honestly led to me and my group kind of saying how there isn't much diversity when it comes to race and religion. And then one of my group members, she's black, and she ... Her roommate is in one of the all Black sororities. So she kind of told us a little more on that. And me and our other group member were interested in ... And agreed that we kind of want to learn more about that and focus on that and kind of get the word out on that. Yes.

Meredith That is so neat. It's a really important thing to bring to light.

Jordan It was definitely a great experience. I think that diversity is so important at any school. I think whether it comes to race, religion, gender, I think it's just awesome to be aware that there are all these organizations and clubs and just so many things people can be a part of when, maybe, we don't always realize it. It's just important to know that there really is a place where everyone should feel like they belong. And it seems like this was just helpful to know that there are different programs and that Greek life has all these sides. I wish Greek life in general was just more diverse, but it was very interesting to learn that some of the people we interviewed liked being in an all Black sorority and fraternity, and enjoy the culture and community that they get from it. Yeah, it was honestly just really great to learn about all of it, and just get more educated. And I hope other people on campus take the time to kind of learn more about different groups and things that they don't necessarily know about on campus. 

Group Singing You wish you had an nickel, you wish you had dime. You wish you had an AKA to love you all the time.

McKenzie My name is McKenzie Lim. I'm a senior and I'm a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated.

Group Singing Wanted by the Sigmas. Now the Qs want to try. They want some skee-wee, skee-wee  (skeeee-weeee). Skee-wee, skee-wee (skeeeee-weeee).

McKenzie It's a great opportunity to be involved in the legacy. Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. was the first Black Greek letter sorority founded in 1908. So it's just nice being able to continue a legacy that was created by my founders at the time of which, you know, women were still fighting for rights and especially Black women, you know, fighting for education and access to resources. And so being a part of a sorority that was founded to find community at a time where society was trying to make us not have one is really cool. And just having that camaraderie and that sisterhood. So I think I really enjoyed it, these past two years that I've been a member.

Group, chant We came to the yard. The yard wasn't live. The yard wasn't live until the Delta's arrived. We came. We saw. We turned it up. Because that sweet ooh-woo is what it's all about. I said that sweet ooh-woo is what it's all about. 

Jesani My name is Jesani Bailey. I'm a senior studying public health policy and administration with a nutrition minor, and I'm a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Zeta new chapter, where I serve as social action chair and treasurer. I do enjoy being in a Black Greek letter organization. It prepares you for the real world by putting you in positions to actually make change, to serve your community, as well as preparing you to juggle and be adaptable and deal with a lot of things. The Black fraternities and sororities on campus are small, so a lot of the positions are shared amongst the members. So we have multiple roles that cross over amongst each other. So being in the sorority really prepares me to juggle a lot of things and be responsible and to maintain multiple tasks at the same time.

Group, chant We came. We saw. We turned it up. Because that sweet ooh-woo is what it's all about. I said that sweet ooh-woo is what it's all about.

McKenzie I joined my sorority because I was looking to serve and create a lasting impact within the communities that I care about, and being a historically marginalized student, I think it's really important to find community and equally as important to find a community that inspires you, uplifts you, and can do the same for others. And I think in doing my own research, I saw myself represented within the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha, and I wanted to continue the important work that the sorority has been doing since 1908. 

Meredith We hope you enjoy this special episode called The Sounds of College Life. We want to thank Professor Mack Hagood for his help and collaboration on this project and to the students for helping to make this episode possible. And thank you for listening to Major Insight. If you enjoyed this podcast, share it with your friends or anyone interested in navigating college life. Many more episodes are now available wherever podcasts are found.

Major Insight is a roadmap for college students who wish to find their place and purpose on campus. Each episode features real stories with real students who are successfully navigating 21st century university life.