University of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame

PERSPECTIVES

First Year Freshness

It’s always difficult to describe my experience at Notre Dame. My story has not only elements that everyone can relate to, but also has instances that are indescribable. Undoubtedly, my first-year experience was full of moments I’ll never forget, and also of moments I won’t remember. I had officially begun my journey with one of the best life-decisions that I had spent the last 18 years preparing for. Notre Dame became my home away from home, and my new family. It comes with all the aspects of being in a family – I’ve laughed and cried more than times than I imagined doing, and my first year here introduced me to unlimited wealth of opportunities that were to come.

With every family come challenges, mixed feelings, and times of utter perplexity; indeed, the Notre Dame Freshman experience is no exception. To become part of the Notre Dame family is a journey in itself. Having lived all over the world, I was familiar with the idea of a University experience, and I had little reason to expect the unexpected. I was introduced to residence hall life and dorm pride, I (literally) mapped my way through the dining halls, I encountered all the awkwardness during hours of serenading, and I wondered whether everyone I met would be my next closest friend. Overwhelmed though I was at first, I can now confidently say that I think it takes someone within the Notre Dame community to understand and connect with the rest of the Notre Dame community. Freshman orientation showed me that my life was about to change, and freshman year made me realize the intricacies of that change.

Throughout my first year at Notre Dame, I have met people who’ve taught me things about the world, myself, and things beyond this world. I have pursued anything and everything that fueled my passion. Freshman year is when it dawned on me that accomplishing great things is one thing, but accomplishing things that make me happy and make the whole world that much happier is what makes the difference. I’ve certainly felt the burden of social pressures to constantly achieve more, I’ve been home-sick during the academic year and dome-sick during vacation, I’ve stayed up late to finish school work but I’ve stayed up late to have deep conversations under the stars about the meaning of life, and I’ve gained and lost the freshman 15. I missed a whole football season while studying abroad in Athens, Greece, but I was Freshman of the Year in the best dorm on campus; I was too nervous to go to my first SYR, but I was invited to dine with Amartya Sen as he received the Notre Dame Award; I fell ill after my first flu shot and missed two days of class, but I finally made it as a writing center tutor. As I write this today, I am clearly a different person than I was three years ago, and the awareness of that process of change is what lights me up inside.

The ways I’ve progressed during my college career have been numerous. My rector was always a doorbell ring away and she made it a point to be an integral part of our lives; my first year advisor guided me through credits and classes even before I arrived and I still keep in touch with him; my roommates and RA helped me find jobs and find clubs to expose me to new things; the international student group was always a comfort to which I could – and still do – turn; the list could go on indefinitely. From then on, there was no going back. What freshman year did was pave the way forward for the next three years. It set the stage for getting involved, making the most out of life at school, and discovering that the only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. During my time here, I’ve taking piano lessons for the first time, and I’ve gone sky diving and bungee jumping in different parts of the world. These complement my leadership positions as president of the Economics Club, director of the Dean’s Fellows of Arts and Letters, and as a member of the Arts and Letter College Council. And there are still countless things I want to pursue before saying farewell next summer.

People come to find lots of things at Notre Dame: they come to find their vocation, they come to learn more about science and the arts, they come to meet new people and discover meaningful relationships, and they come to find a promising future. Equally important though, is their quest to be the best version of themselves. There are tools to equip people to both revel in their joys and to emerge stronger from their despair – but the tools to reflect, question, and seek are instrumental as well. Notre Dame has definitely grasped these ideas, and stands as a unique opportunity for the brightest and keenest individuals to come together to create a dynamic and promising world. The First Year of Studies is committed to sustaining and extending that reputation.