During an end-of-summer afternoon, the sun reflects off the shiny Center for the Arts building as PCC Freshman Alex Peña sits on the grass in front. While enjoying their lunch, they tell the story about their finicky process of finding peace through Rock and K-Pop music while studying for their Public Health Science degree.
“Well, I have ADHD, so if I’m not listening to music, I’m listening to everything else,” says Peña. “So when I listen to music, it just helps me tune out the rest of the noise. While studying, I tend to only focus on the music that I will eventually tune out.”
Peña’s process represents one story behind the larger trend of the current generation of PCC students becoming accustomed to listening to music and studying simultaneously.
This trend is brought on by the advent of electronics like AirPods and streaming services like Apple Music that make music accessible as long as the preferred device is charged and the money can be shelled out for a discounted student subscription. Mixed in with a population of students who were just told to use their electronics like their grades depended on it, looking across the PCC campus serves as better advertistment for headphones and earbuds than any marketing team can think of.
While a trend, there exists nuances in everybody’s story, as in the case of one Studio Arts major, second year Terry Sy, who shares a different relationship to music as it relates to school work in his field.
“If I really need to focus, like on reading or something, I’ll play background noise, but I’m not really hyperfocused on the music, but, if I’m making art, I’m just blasting music and then working on whatever,” Sy explains.
Sy’s playlist for art creation includes alternative R&B artists such as Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy, while his study sounds include Lo-Fi and EDM beats.
While sonically-driven students like Peña and Sy represent a majority of the student body, there exists a handful of students who cannot studiously sustain themselves in the same settings, like Freshman Mathematics major Rafael Hutajulu.
“When I’m listening to music, I really pay attention to it and when I’m studying it’s sort of a distraction,” Hutajulu explains. “I’m not a multitasker so it’s very difficult.”
Despite his lack of multitasking abilities, Hutajulu does otherwise enjoy a varied musical diet ranging from Bach to Blackpink to the Beatles while relaxing in his free time like Peña and Sy.
While PCC students may differ in their studying preferences, they are using music as a way to cope with the transition from attending college online to in-person, setting outdoors from summer to fall, and finding themselves in a mid-pandemic to hopefully post-pandemic world.
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