Observer Viewpoint | Saturday, August 21, 2004
If you are reading this column, you are owed a congratulations and an explanation. First, congratulations on being accepted to (in my opinion of course) one of the greatest colleges this nation has to offer. But now you need to know that your situation is one that will surely be of great adjustment.
I could write today about how different college is from high school, how it’s going to take a while before you adjust to living away from your parents, how for many of you, it will take all year to adjust to the edible delights of the dining hall. But this is not going to be that kind of column.
The fact of the matter is this: as a student at Saint Mary’s, you have an opportunity to take part in a unique college experience. Going to a small, all-female liberal arts college directly across the street from a larger, co-ed university, you have the chance to utilize both campuses for your greatest benefit.
You have essentially two choices in this matter. You can stay at Saint Mary’s, meeting friends at only our institution, which is fine. But as easy as it is to pick a comfy spot in your dorm room among your masking-tape-colored walls, it is worth venturing out of them occasionally.
Because if you choose to do so, you can utilize Notre Dame as a resource to expand your horizons. Through Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame, there are countless joint activities in which you can get involved. Even if you choose not to get involved in an activity, make an attempt to get over to the campus across the street.
And don’t let the fact that you actually have to cross a road get in the way. You’ll hear a lot of talk about “the school across the street.” But the fact of the matter is, we are part of a community, and every community requires work to be a cohesive network.
Your college experience is going to be what you make of it. And here, you have an opportunity that I’ve yet to see anywhere else. Take it from me, the easy thing to do is stay in your dorm. It’s easy to call your parents and your friends from home and cling to those connections. It is so much harder to leave the dorm, to get out of your comfort zone, to talk to someone you might not normally talk to. But it will be so worth it.
During my freshman year at Saint Mary’s, I was content to spend most of my time there. Being from South Bend originally, I had many male friends from high school still living in town, so I told myself there was no need to befriend boys from Notre Dame. And with a boyfriend at Purdue, I figured there was really no reason to get involved across the street because Saint Mary’s was providing me with everything I needed at the time.
But during the middle of my sophomore year, with many of the male friends having moved away to go to school, the relationship with my boyfriend hit a road block it never recovered from. Suddenly I found myself struggling to find relationships – any kind of relationships – with the opposite sex. And it was difficult.
Since other Saint Mary’s women had taken the time to meet their guy friends early on, they had been able to grow and foster those relationships. I had been left out of the loop, and I had no one to blame but myself.
And that’s when The Observer walked into my life. After spring break my sophomore year, I received a mass e-mail inviting all interested writers to attend an informational meeting to write for the paper. I had nothing to lose and a knack for writing, so I gave it a try.
A year later, I was the Saint Mary’s Editor. Through my involvement with the paper, I am able to spend a lot of hours weekly across the street, and have made some fabulous friends. And although I wish I had done it sooner, I have in fact done it, and it’s better late than never.
You have an amazing four years ahead of you. What you do with it is your own choice. But make sure you don’t take a single moment for granted. Before you know it, you’ll be gearing up for your senior year. And it will pass in the blink of an eye.
Angela Saoud is a senior English writing major and a secondary education minor who, although she complains about things she has done, wouldn’t change a thing about her college career. She is from South Bend, but resents being called a townie. Angela has no idea what job she will do or where she will live after graduation, but she will figure it out when the time comes. Contact Angela Sooud at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.