The Color of My World

Four UofSC students discuss different aesthetics and surroundings that bring them hope, security and identity.

by Melissa Borgerding / Garnet & Black

College is full of ups and downs. Given the current state of the world, many things are constantly shifting and, while adjusting to young adulthood, we learn to cope with the ever-changing society around us. Though we can’t always be certain what lies ahead, at least we have the little things that bring us comfort and peace. Garnet & Black was able to sit down with four UofSC students, all of whom are in different stages of their college careers. Their ideas of comfort and expression are similar but still different.

The average college freshman has a lot to become accustomed to. In between transitioning from the structure of high school to college by itself, students are also moving to new towns and cities with new communities and standards to learn about. For some, the transition may be more challenging than usual. Sometimes it's just a matter of taking the time to get to know their new environment. That is how it has been for UofSC student, Olivia Johnson. 

Johnson’s story here at UofSC is just beginning. She is a part of a few organizations on campus including the NAACP Outreach Organization and Melanin and Movement. She has found a community that has helped her to become accustomed to her new chapter in life. 

“I was lucky enough to have a roommate that I have known since middle school,” she said. “I felt comfortable in my living environment.”

And her living environment is comforting indeed. The study rooms in the Patterson dormitory have a lot of natural lighting and she considers them to be a nice place where she can clear her mind. Her actual dorm room is decorated in pastel pink and cream with vines hanging on both sides of the room. Coupled with her lavender air freshener, Johnson believes that her room represents the peaceful and relaxed side of her. 

“I always felt like my room was a spot to just relax and chill,” she said. “I believe the colors represent peace and relaxation.”

When it comes to self-expression, Johnson finds that some of the best representations of her identity are in her wardrobe.  

“When I am feeling the most confident, I go for the dresses and the skirts,” she said. “I like to wear bright colors like yellow and orange.” She also likes to wear neutral colors such as white and brown whenever she wants to dress a little more nice and chic. 

When she prefers to remain low-key, she wears black and oversized clothing. She feels that because of her height, she is not very hard to miss. Since her middle school years, she never liked the attention that was drawn to her due to her height or other features. Fortunately, she has grown to feel more comfortable with herself. 

Johnson is enjoying herself here, and her attitude is optimistic. An important aspect of her college experience is to interact with her student body, though she understands that for some it may not be as easy. 

“Don’t get discouraged,” she said. “Talk to people. There are always people who will help you in different ways whether it is academically or personally.” 

Sophomores are in-between, right? Still just getting started and finding their way. Most professors aren’t as flexible and understanding to sophomores, as they expect them to be better equipped with what it takes to succeed in college. Maybe you’ve transitioned from a dormitory and are now in a place of your own. Everyone has a different experience, and UofSC student Tyler Westall elaborated on his. 

Westall is progressing through his college career well-adjusted. Like Johnson, he finds that the Journalism school is the most inviting building on campus with its modern layout and open floor plan. 

“All the classrooms are kept up well,” Westall said. To him, the Humanities building is the least inviting because it is so old and outdated, “It feels like a prison because the windows are so narrow.” 

When describing his room, Westall found that the dark green and white walls made the room feel earthy. He feels that this allows his nature-loving personality to shine through. 

Furthermore, he also expresses himself through his wardrobe. When he prefers to stand out, he wears his favorite colors yellow and red. When he wants to blend in, he wears gray and black. However, it is his large wrap-around dragon tattoo that he considers the coolest. 

“I think it shows that I am carefree,” he explained. 

Westall has adjusted well to campus life and believes that less crowded and minimalistic spaces are the most comfortable. 

Now, juniors are right at the halfway point. They’re in the final stretch and while they are still enjoying all of what college has to offer, the continued importance of getting ready for life after undergrad continues to loom. Aeriel Pearson, a junior at UofSC, shared her thoughts on how she sees this final stretch and how she relaxes during this hectic time. 

With only about a year and a half left, Pearson’s focus is on preparing for and gaining experience in her chosen field of public relations. 

“Nothing has happened yet, but I know things are going to get crazy,”  Pearson said. “I got into The Carolina Agency and things are starting to pick up. I’m getting nervous, but I’m glad that I got in.” 

She considers her new role at the organization to be very involved and believes that if she is not completing her tasks on time, she is not working hard enough. While life has gotten hectic for her, she can reminisce and remember a time when things weren’t so serious. 

“My first semester was great,” Pearson said. “I made a really good friend, and I was just having a lot of fun, I really felt like I was a part of a community.” 

However, things changed at the beginning of her second semester of college when the pandemic began in the early Spring of 2020. 

Things continued to change, as she realized a dilemma of her own. At the time, she was a business major who had fallen out of interest with her program and didn’t feel like she belonged at Darla Moore. Not only did her chosen major no longer feel right, but the school itself made her feel uneasy. 

”Things shifted,” she said. "I don’t know what it was about the business school, but it just felt like there was no love in the building to me.” 

From her perspective, nothing is out of place in that building. It is always clean and “perfect.” Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the building itself just felt unwelcoming. She even expressed not being comfortable enough to focus while studying in the building. “Darla Moore is like a different school to me over there.”

In contrast, the Humanities building gives her the best sense of comfort. While she notes the building's old age, to her it feels like home. Pearson describes the posters and art on the wall and talks about the different things you can do in the building. 

“It makes you feel like you’re a part of something,” she said, “everything just feels authentic.” Pearson feels a similar authenticity while in Gambrell Hall and is also inspired by the scenery of the Horseshoe. 

Away from campus, Pearson resides near the Engineering building. This is where she can really unwind. Shared with a roommate, she’s spent a year and a half in a vintage industrial-style apartment. The apartment itself is very exciting with black and white walls donning vinyl records and books all around. Her bedroom is the center of the apartment for her. During what she refers to as the “golden hour time,” the high ceiling and large windows allow for beautiful sunlight to shine through. “It’s great lighting for when I need to take a picture,” she exclaimed. “It’s so pretty to me.” 

The interesting commentary about the interiors of their homes and the buildings on campus ultimately reminds us of the psychology behind color. While most research regarding color psychology is rather anecdotal, color and tones can still play a significant role in how we feel about ourselves and our surroundings. All three students stated that the varying decors of their living spaces would instill different emotions within them. While discussing their outfits and how they feel it represents them, they all communicate “loudly” with brighter colors and “quietly” with darker more neutral colors. 

The senior year of college is naturally a compilation of everything you have learned. From cleaning up and putting together portfolios to flexing as much of your networking skills as possible, there is a lot to think about during your senior year. UofSC student, Cait Russell, discussed how she is absorbing this final segment and how she finds ways to keep in touch with herself.

“My favorite place to study and do work is on the bottom floor of the library” she said. “I like that it is quiet and I don’t feel so closed off from everyone.”  Aside from the library, the McMaster building feels the most inviting to her. She spends a lot of time there and she feels most at home being around all of the art that is displayed there. She is uncomfortable in the Jones and Cooker building. “They feel really cold and lack a personal touch that I really value in a space,” Russell said. 

But she can leave all of that behind when she escapes back into her apartment. She chose calm colors for the main decor of her space. “Nothing is too bright or busy,” she explained. “Light pinks, grays, and blues.” Her apartment is warm, not just because of those comforting colors, but because it is filled with gifts and anecdotes from the people that she cares about. “I think my space shows that I value things that have a personal touch and are calming.”

It is especially important to note that the world is still heavily embroiled in a pandemic that has massively altered the ways things are and the way that we thought things could have been. Nonetheless, these four students have found ways to keep in tune with themselves and their surroundings.