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Helpful hints

Jay Fitzpatrick | Friday, August 22, 2008

I’ll admit I don’t know why each of you came to Notre Dame. And I can’t tell you what to expect, what you will learn in and out of the classroom. All of you will have vastly different college experiences, make different memories, live different lives. But there is one constant thing that will transcend your time here.

You go to Notre Dame.

Some of you might think I mean the Spirit of Notre Dame. You might have heard of it, the one that can light up the universe.

Notre Dame has different nuances and idiosyncrasies that you won’t find at other universities.

So even if I can’t give you any grandiose advice, here are some helpful hints for living at Notre Dame:

uLaFortune (a.k.a. LaFun or The Huddle) can be your best friend, depending on the time. Say you want lunch, but don’t have time to go to the dining hall. Subway might be the healthiest option, but will have the longest lines at mealtime – I guarantee it.

Burger King is quicker, but closes disturbingly early at 8 p.m. If you dare venture to the basement you will find the most delectable of treats – just not when you think.

In the basement lurks Sbarro pizza, open until 2 a.m. on weekdays and 4 a.m. on weekends. And for good reason. If you should happen to be awake that late, doing goodness knows what, you may be a little hungry. And nothing tastes better than greasy stromboli at 2:30 a.m. Unfortunately, it tastes terrible at any other time. Something about the moonlight just changes it.

uMost buildings on campus are named for old, dead white guys. Unfortunately, some of these names can be difficult to pronounce. To avoid any pronunciation problems, here is a handy key.

O’Shaughnessy looks imposing, but don’t worry about how to say it. Just go for O’Shag (as in “The Spy Who Shagged Me”).

There are two buildings named for DeBartolo, but neither is called as such. If it’s a class, you are likely in D-Bart; a play/concert/artsy-fartsy movie, you will be at DPAC (dee-PACK).

There is a mythical place called the Coleman Center or Morse Center. For all intents and purposes, they are the Siamese Twins known as CoMo. Learn that name, because you will likely go there often.

The numbers on many classroom buildings make zero sense. Fortunately there are maps in the buildings. Unfortunately, you will look like a tool if you use them. There are maps of most classroom buildings online. Find them and use them to try to save some face.

uGet to know the people in your section, because they are the people you will see the most often. Most people continue to room with people who they lived with or near freshman year.

But don’t just know the freshmen. The upperclassmen can help you with professors and classes. More importantly, at least for this semester, only they have cars to escape the Bubble.

The most important person to get to know is your RA, and for purely pragmatic purposes. They can be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on your relationship with them.

I just threw out a term that might have confused you: “The Bubble.” Notre Dame exists as an identity unto itself. We have our own post office, our own fire department, our own police, etc. Most of what you need you can find here on campus.

But the Bubble isn’t always a good thing. Experiencing life off-campus can be a great experience, but a trickier one. And partying is just one thing to do off-campus. Just like any town, South Bend has its fair share of stores, bowling alleys and movie theaters. Go to them, have fun off-campus.

Regardless of what you might have heard, not everyone loves Notre Dame, and you have to be careful with what you do off-campus. Don’t stay home; just be smart.

This might not be some earth-shattering information, but it should make life easier in the next few days.

Jay Fitzpatrick is a double major in History and Arabic Studies. He used to live in Dillon Hall until moving off-campus. He would like to thank Lennie, Jaytar, Wakim, Healy, Tony, Kevin and Ryan for their continued support. He recently got engaged and would like to assure you that all donations are accepted and appreciated. Send them to Jay at jfitzpa5@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.