Beca Mitchell is 18 when she starts at SCAD.
She doesn't have much of her choice; her dad's a professor of Art History and he called her up one day during senior year to tell her he'd submitted her portfolio and she would be starting there in the fall. She's not even sure how he got her portfolio to begin with, considering he hadn't bothered to pick up the phone for even so much as a happy birthday, kiddo in three years, but there was no point in questioning it. She decides to major in Photography with a minor in Music Composition, because after talking about it with her mom, she knows there not an option to say no.
Late that summer, she packs up from Portland and moves across the country into a dorm with a slightly crazy roommate, Kimmy Jin. Kimmy Jin refuses to speak to Beca; it takes a good two weeks for her even figure out she speaks English and even then she only finds out because she's talking to Beca's dad. She's got some pretty crazy death glares going on and Beca's not one hundred percent sure that she isn't plotting her death, so she tends to spend a lot of time elsewhere.
Beca meets Jesse, a slightly obnoxious yet kind of adorable guy from Washington who is majoring in Film and Sound Design, in one of her first classes. It takes her a little while to warm up to him, but one day she finds out he has a killer record collection that he dragged all the way to Savannah and that's really all it takes to solidify their friendship. Jesse spends a lot of time writing this weird, lo-fi indie music that Beca actually kind of loves, so over fall break, they decide to start a band.
When it comes down to it, playing a synthesizers isn't that much different than piano, and Beca is thankful her mom made her take lessons for so long. Still, it is a bit weird to get used to all of the effects on the old board they found on craigslist. It's just the two of them - other than Beca playing the synthesizer, they share vocals and Jesse plays guitar - but they make it work. They call themselves This New Thing, because in the two weeks of playing that they can't come up with a name, they just call it "this new thing we're doing" and it eventually sticks.
Beca insists on shortening it to something a bit easier to remember and Jesse is chill about pretty much everything - Beca thinks it's all of the weed he smokes - so he just nods and says awesome in this long drawn out way that makes Beca smile. Having an official name makes everything feel different; more like they're actually a band and not just messing around in their dorms. More like they're on their way to doing something.
Between assignments and labs, midterms and finals, they write enough songs to start playing in local clubs. Neither one of them have a car on campus, so they're chained to the few spots downtown they can get to by bus, but they're okay with that because it is something, which is always better than nothing.
They convince a professor to let them use the screen printing room in Pepe Hall to make shirts and patches, a girl down the hall makes up some pins with her button machine, and they record enough material on the analog 4-track that Jesse's brother gave him to make a demo so they have some stuff to sell at shows. Shortly after all of that comes together, Jesse befriends a guy in one of his classes, Benji, that has a car and offers to drive them to shows or let them borrow it, so they take every chance they get to play various clubs along the coast and elsewhere in the state.
Despite their original plans, neither of them go back home for the summer, and by time sophomore year starts they are kind of a "big deal" on campus. Not that it's all about the recognition or anything, but they both admit that it's kind of awesome to see people walking around wearing This New Thing shirts or with patches and pins on their bags.
Beca is 19 when she meets Chloe Beale.