First Experience at IU - My Very First Visit

First of all, let me just say that this was my first visit to IU...ever. As soon as I got my acceptance letter this past December, I knew for sure that IU was where I was going to spend my college years. Of course, as a music student, my admission to the Jacobs School of Music was to be decided after my audition and interview during my audition weekend, but I knew that I was going to IU regardless of my admission to the music school.

So, here I am, in Bloomington, and all I can say is: wow.

For those prospective students, I'd like to give a little insight into all of the things I experienced here on my official college visit. Please note that I am a little biased because both my dad and grandfather both attended IU, so I already knew that it was a great place to be.

1. Bloomington -- The City Itself

I've lived in Dallas my whole life, so going to a city like Bloomington was a complete change for me -- but totally in a good way. The city is a very close-knit, historical unit that I enjoyed every minute of. From Kirkwood, to the architecture of the buildings, to the various events and people I saw, there was such a bustling yet serene atmosphere that I couldn't get enough of. Everyone had some place to go, but there was also a good chunk of Bloomington natives sitting at the Sample Gates, or just enjoying the quietness of the Student Union. Though the school itself, and the buildings within the campus, are massive, and the population of college students is also in the high numbers, I felt normal to be walking around the campus or up and down the streets just like everyone else -- like I'd lived here my whole life.

And the people: can I just say that I've traveled to a lot of cities in the US, and Bloomington has some of the nicest people I've ever met. Everyone that I talked to was incredibly patient and generous to my parents and I, since we're not from Indiana, and I felt like it was completely normal to ask people questions. Sometimes, when I've visited other cities, or even other parts of Dallas, my hometown, people were "too busy" or reluctant to help people out when asking for directions or asking for certain places. Never be afraid to ask questions, because everyone is more than happy to help

So to everyone I talked to -- thank you!

2. The Campus

It helped because my dad knew where most of the buildings were, so I didn't have to sign up for a tour or any type of guide to help us out. You could say that I had my own personal guide at my hand and foot -- who also bought me plenty of IU memorabilia.

The campus after you surpass the Sample Gates is ginormous! The buildings are also large, but it also added to the historical feel you get when you step through those glorious entrance gates. I walked through the Student Union and immediately fell in love. There was so much to see, and yet I didn't have enough time to go look at all of the cool rooms, like the Tudor Room.

Plus -- the walking was great. My hometown is super duper flat, so all of the hills got me hard (I was breathing pretty hard oops). But peppered around all of the buildings were easy places to work out -- the Intramural Center, plenty of sidewalks and paths to jog/walk, you get it. 

The nature astonished me the most. Knowing that it's March, in Indiana, I didn't expect much green -- and there wasn't any. However, the serenity and calmness of the leave-less trees was about as beautiful as a colorful jungle in Honduras. It had it's own feel and felt very beautiful in it's own right.

3. The Music School - For those who aren't applying to Jacobs, feel free to skip this!

For a school of 40k+ students, I expected a traditional shuffling through of auditioning students, a lot of "go here, go there, yeah, uh huh, goodbye's" but I was so very wrong. My very first meeting in the morning was filled with other prospective Music Education students (my intended major for anyone who is wondering), and four or five admin talking to us and walking through everything had the nicest of intentions, and were intent on praising the Jacobs School of Music for all that it is -- which is part of their job, but I definitely felt like they were being very truthful in the vastness of their faculty.

My interview was something of a change for me. I've been in multiple interviews throughout my high school career, so therefore I was ultimately prepared for the talking portion -- as I'm a great conversationalist and enjoy explaining things that I enjoy, like music. 

However, there was also a sight-singing portion, which, for an instrumental major, was a huge slap in face. I've never once in my life looked at a bar line and have been able to sing the notes on the page without playing them outloud before. Luckily, I apparently sang perfectly on pitch and in rhythm, so I lucked out. As nerve-wracking as it was, my interviewer was very patient and seemed very intrigued in what I had to say, making our time together more personal than just a standard interview with a prospective student.

My audition was somewhat of a wreck because it took forever to find a practice room. 700+ students were auditioning on the day that I was, and 800+ more were expected to audition the day afterwards, so there were certain practice rooms that were designated for just auditioning students - which was both a blessing and a curse.

After checking the Music Annex (or colloquially known as the "Round Building") and finding no available practice rooms, I had to resort to the new Practice Building (or the "PB") to find one, which I did and eventually spent two hours practicing my audition repertoire. 

At the time of my audition, I walked from the PB to the East Studio Building, which is all studios for music students. It was quite a trek with a little bit of a polar chill in the air, a cello on my back, and a bunch of Frat guys staring at me in my big hair and lipstick, but I made it to my warm-up room in one piece, before meeting a girl who was also going into Music Education. And also playing the Elgar Cello Concerto - first movement. And also playing Bach's second cello suite. And also playing the prelude from that suite.

Overall, my audition was pretty solid. I've been working on my concerto now for almost a year, so finally getting that off my chest was good. Mr. Kim, my cello professor listening to my audition was very patient, and immediately knew I was from the South (my accent gave it away oops). It was quite an experience, auditioning for a place that you'll be spending four years of your life at, but I was so happy to have it done and over with.

4. The Food

One of the greatest things about the food here in Bloomington, as pointed out by my mother, is the lack of chain restaurants, and the abundance of little restaurants that emphasize, in essence, quality over quantity. I ate at Nick's, Mother Bear's, Tallent Restaurant, Upland's Brewery, Rachael's Cafe, and Dagwood's. Everything was made fast, served by the nicest waiters, and I was always surrounded by people who were just having a good time. There isn't a place that doesn't have good food -- or at least I never went anywhere like that.

My IU experience was phenomenal, and I want to thank everyone I talked to for giving me such a helpful experience. Go Hoosiers!

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About The Author
Miller SusensMusic Education Major, Dallas, TX, Class of 2018

Yes, Miller is my first name. I prefer blue cheese bacon burgers on the first date and I'm pretty sure that I only own brown sandals. Lover of yoga, tumblr, pilates, fried chicken, sweet tea, and colors. Member of Alpha Gamma Delta (peace luv alpha gams). Cellist in the Jacobs School of Music. Native Texan. Very, very clumsy.