Freshman year me would have scoffed at the idea of celebrating International Podcast Day on September 30th. I used to think that podcasts were long and boring, but I could not have been more wrong.

When Spotify quietly began adding podcasts, I decided to trust Spotify's rankings and give a few a try. Now I listen to several podcasts regularly and find myself anxiously awaiting the release of the next episode. As now a 'super listener,' you can almost always find me with my headphones in and a podcast on as I go about my day.

As a college student, I have found that podcasts have had several surprising benefits such as:

1. Podcasts are free entertainment you can listen to anywhere!

I started listening to podcasts while walking around campus and working on homework. With options to download for listening offline, you are no longer constrained by data limits or wifi.

Did I mention they are FREE? Podcasts are often compared to audiobooks, but podcasts with their endless options for free seem to be the better deal with audiobooks available around $15 each. So there is no risk in trying out podcasts and finding one that works for you!

2. Podcasts are perfect for passing time.

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I have found podcasts to be just as entertaining as watching my fave TV shows, but now don't have to look at the screen leaving me free to focus. They are a great way to pass time while doing mindless chores, letting you immerse yourself in conversations or stories making you forget you are actually washing dishes. (Or as you do homework...)

3. Podcasts can provide great background noise. 

Sometimes listening to someone talk can be relaxing and help you focus. There are podcasts like the "Sleep Meditation" podcast that provides ambient sounds like a coffee shop that I like to pop on as I study to drown out all other distractions. In "Nothing Much Happens," Kathryn Nicolai calmly narrates bedtimes stories of everyday situations where nothing much happens like being in a kitchen during a storm or a walk in the woods. As a college student, this really helps me to fall asleep quickly and make the most out of my time to sleep.

4. Podcasts are usually conversations instead of stories.

Except for the meditation podcasts, most podcasts consist of conversations than story narration. The back-and-forth seems more natural and makes you feel more immersed. The conversations make me feel like I am not alone and I feel like I am actually friends with the hosts. I feel like I really know Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark of the "My Favorite Murder" podcast because of their open discussions on mental health and their interactions with fans in their minisodes where they read 'Hometown' murders or stories their listeners send in.

5. Podcasts come in many different genres. 

With such a wide variety of genres and even subsets within genres, you are bound to find a podcast that fits your style and interests. Podcasts like "My Favorite Murder" and "And That's Why We Drink" are perfect for fans of true crime who enjoy shows like Forensic Files and Buzzfeed Unsolved. Both are also comedy podcasts with the hosts giving funny spins on otherwise scary stories. Rooster Teeth is known for their gaming podcasts and Barstool Sports is, well, known for their podcasts on sports.

6. Podcasts allow you to learn about a subject or stay up to date on news. 

Podcasts are more than entertainment, they are also educational. NPR's podcasts are a great way to stay up to date on news. With "TED Talks Daily", you now have access to more TED Talks that are short, sweet and to the point with informed speakers giving you their insight on a subject. Another great podcast is "Stuff You Should Know" where Josh and Chuck tell you about common things and how they work. These are perfect for the college student who wants to grow personally and/or professionally. Plus, you will also have random facts up your sleeve to wow your friends with or win at trivia!

I hope you will be entertained and learn something new!