Category: Lauren Mottel (page 2 of 2)

“The End of the Year & My Spotify Wrapped” by Lauren Mottel

There is something special about December. It holds a certain nostalgia from childhood that is almost tangible — the warm, gentle glow of a fireplace; being bundled in a love of family and friends; the wafting scents of gingerbread and pine; that feeling you get where the clouds hang heavy and the air smells like snow’s about to fall. And, of course, there’s nothing compared to the unbridled joy of getting a call for the all-holy Snow Day.

 As we grow older, we make more and more associations with December, whether it be important deadlines, dreaded finals, or feeling as if we’re running out of time — especially with this year marking the end of not only the year, but the 2010s. This month also becomes a time of self-reflection, which brings a newfound sense of fulfillment, brimming with potential, and not to sound like a cliché motivational Instagram page, but it truly is crazy how much happens in one year, especially for freshmen such as myself. A year ago today, we were submitting college applications, with proms, graduation, and a genuine summer with no school work sitting as far specks on the horizon. A year ago today, we had no clue about the walks from Redding to Willard, building an automaton out of posterboard, or the bottomless pit of Turf rocks that collect in our shoes. We were completely different people then, with completely different people in our daily lives than those who are present now. 

December truly is a contemplative time when we can reminisce about our childhood and witness how much we’ve grown as individuals, and it just so happens that in recent years, we’ve been able to reflect on the past year in another fun and fresh manner: the annual Spotify Wrapped playlist (my condolences to all my AppleMusic users — this won’t be 100% relatable content, and if you still use Pandora — we need to talk). An in-depth analysis of your past year in music, from summer jams and lo-fi study beats, to songs to sing in the shower and songs from your “Mercury is in Retrograde, and Now My Life is Crumbling”-esque playlist, all wrapped up in one collection. 

In my (very humble) opinion, Spotify’s algorithm and graphic design team really outdid themselves with both the stats and presentation this year. I appreciated how Wrapped showed how your music taste shifted in the season — from wistful acoustics in the winter to the upbeat melodies of summer — because it’s representative of how we felt in those moments during the year, capable of bringing up memories long forgotten and reminding you of how those memories molded you into the individual you are today. 

Another new feature I appreciated was the World Citizen, where it broke down the countries of various artists; of course, some of mine were really obvious, with Lorde in New Zealand and ABBA for Sweden, but it also led to pleasant surprises, like discovering Hozier is from Ireland (the more you know!). The World Citizen feature is not unlike how we are broadening our horizons here in college — every day is a new opportunity to meet new people and have conversations about worldviews different than your own. This extends into another graphic in this year’s Wrapped, which included a bar graph of your top five genres listened to. In displaying the variety of genres you listen to most, I was reminded of how we as individuals  (and sleep-deprived college students) are not subject to only one genre, but rather contain multitudes and contain the most potential to explore what we desire to any extent. 

And, of course, the stats we all look for in our Spotify Wrapped: Artist of the Year, this time including Artist of the Decade in celebration of the end of the 2010s. I regret to report that after four years of having Sleeping At Last as my top artist (highly recommended, by the way), he has been dethroned by the (equally talented and lovely) Florence + the Machine. I won’t lie, it was a lot to take in. I had to sit down. Spotify pairs this by showing how much time you’ve spent listening each year toughout the decade, and like showing the top artists, it shows the time and dedication you have put into supporting these artists, appreciating their work, and catering to your study session needs. It also demonstrates and promotes the connections made between artists and their fans, which I found to be particularly beautiful, because it proves that we are truly never alone. 

Ultimately, December can bring many things: the holidays, finals, cozy nights in, existential crises, etc. — y’know, the usual — but it also brings self-reflection, and what better way to look back on your year than to listen to its very soundtrack? Obviously, growing up and finding our place in this world can be anything but easy, but at least we are able to shed some light on our troubles and embrace those feelings through music to help us cope. In the wise words of Smash Mouth, “the years start comin’ and they don’t stop comin,'” but we can at least say that for this semester, that’s a wrap!

“The Anatomy of a College Freshman” by Lauren Mottel

Picture this: the sun starts to peek out from the horizon, casting a warm glow on the autumn leaves, and a golden light trickles in through the window as you open your eyes, stretch, and sigh, basking in the warmth. You have a feeling it’ll be a good day today. You hear birds chirping, and—well, actually, they don’t sound all that pleasant anymore, each tweet getting louder and more jarring until—

Your 7:30 alarm is going off, causing your roommates to stir. The warm glow you were basking in was just the lamp you left on from last night’s study grind, and it’s, in fact, incredibly dreary and bleak outside. You stumble out of bed and attempt to get dressed before your 8:00 AM lab, only to make it halfway across the Turf to realize you left your lab goggles before sprinting back and to your class, furiously skirting around slow walkers so as not to be late. 

We’ve all been there. 

In fact, this happened to me within the first couple of weeks of classes, and while I was working on the biology lab, it had occurred to me that despite taking plenty of science classes throughout high school, I never took anatomy. I completely missed out on the cliché high school biology experience. Therefore, I took it upon myself to study anatomy independently during this first semester—the anatomy of a college freshman, that is. 

The Brain

Here we see reduced serotonin levels prompted by a failed attempt at time management and severe lack of sleep (see: midterms). College is a big adjustment that should not be underestimated; it requires a lot of mental and physical energy in adapting to living in dorms and navigating your schedule to find a balance between academics and hanging out with friends, and that’s not even taking into account dealing with being away from family, even if you do live locally. It’s important to recognize when your neurons get especially fried and to take the time to distract your brain with other things, like listening to music or watching The Great British Bake Off

The Heart

Despite the bags under your eyes that are so heavy they’re considered checked luggage by TSA, there is a love of learning and ambition to excel that drive everything you do. Pursuing higher education is no small feat, and in remaining passionate enough in a field to make a career out of it, you’re beginning to take the first steps into the stages of adulthood. This is further upheld by the love and support of your family and friends as you embark on such an endeavor.

The Hands

The hands of a college freshman can be found either desperately hitting snooze on 7:00 AM alarms or timers for in-between class naps, feverishly texting the group chat about an online quiz, or mildly shaking from drinking one-too-many cold brew coffees, sustained by the Caffeinated Quartet of Dunkin’, Starbucks, Peet’s, and Caribou Coffee. Regardless, your hands are what allow you to create, network, and stress-bake your way through life.

The Stomach

Among the most common things that come up in conversation when talking about college is the dreaded Freshman Fifteen, and with constant access to UDairy at the dining halls with an unlimited meal plan, this is proving to be quite the problem. With Caesar Rodney, Russell, the Harrington Pod, and Perkins all within walking distance from Redding, eating habits can quickly take a turn, but with there sometimes being an awkward hour break between classes or ungodly long lecture periods, you have to make the most of the time you have so as to carry on throughout the day. Regardless, nothing can stop us from running to Russell late at night to satisfy a sudden ice cream craving, and we have no shame.  

The Legs

It’ll be a crime if your quads and calf muscles aren’t incredibly toned from walking up the four flights of ISE every day or booking it across the Green en route to Purnell, and pray to the gods if you ever have to trek up the stairs at Willard. The lactic acid that is constantly coursing through your muscles every day is enough to work off any calories consumed at CR. The legs of a college freshman go through so much in walking everywhere that by the time they actually get in bed, they’ll be numb from a long day’s work. 

The Feet

The feet of a college freshman heavily endorse taking the path less travelled by in this new stage of life. Whether it’s finding a shortcut in your daily route to class to cut back on walking time or simply trying something new, the best memories are made in the shoes with the most worn out soles, and the quicker that college freshmen implement that into their daily lives, the more memorable of a college experience they’ll have. 

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