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Welcome to the bubble

Analise Lipari | Friday, August 22, 2008

Welcome to the bubble.

It’s a term that tends to circulate around this campus – the “Notre Dame bubble,” that funny, invisible membrane that keeps us in and keeps the world out. We enjoy the safety of our dorm rooms and dining halls. It’s a magical world, Hobbes – why would we leave?

The term “Notre Dame bubble” is chronically overused, but it holds some truth. There’s a tendency here (and as a big, bad senior, I can testify to its pervasiveness) to avoid venturing too far outside of our fair brick and cinderblock walls. The bubble is just as much a mental roadblock as it might be a physical one. It’s easy to make excuses – no car, no money, or no need to get off the futon and enter the outside world.

Besides, we’re intelligent human beings with sophistication and smarts. We take our fashion tips from “In Style,” not “Seventeen.” We laugh at Wes Anderson movies that our parents don’t understand. So long, Rihanna, hello, MGMT. I’ve got enough ‘culture.’ Just let me worry about homework and football tickets.

Like you, I’d like to consider myself well schooled in the cultural side of life, both high and low. Even if I only know one Lou Reed song (“Satellite of Love,” actually. Okay, it was in an episode of “Gilmore Girls.” Don’t judge me), I was psyched when Sony BMG sent a copy of his greatest hits to The Observer office. I’m currently trying to read Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, without missing an episode of “Project Runway.” I know the difference between “coloratura” and “recitative,” as well as the difference between Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. My own blend of nerdiness, sure, but I doubt I’m alone in being a nerd around here.

When I was in high school, my mom used to tell me that I’d love college. At the time, I was reading the Canterbury Tales in AP English, and my art classes taught me about Auguste Renoir and Jackson Pollack. I’d always ask her why she thought I was so college-bound. To my mom – and probably to a lot of your parents – college held all kinds of yet-unknown promise for our burgeoning minds. We could study what we liked, indulge our interests, and explore our futures. I couldn’t wait to take classes the subjects I loved. I wanted to be a college kid, just like you.

Now that you’re here, that unknown promise is within your grasp. The beautiful thing about the “bubble” is that there’s a lot of good stuff inside. And the only way you’ll make absolutely, 100 percent sure that you never experience it is if you stay inside your dorm room, the classroom, and your basic routine.

I dare you to get out.

Not to get out of campus, meaning to leave – we’re psyched to have you, and we won’t let you go for the rest of your life. No, I dare you to get off of your new futon, close your door, lock it behind you, and walk away for a few hours. Visit the Snite Museum, and not just for class. Attend a lecture by a visiting scholar on a subject you aren’t studying. Domers, go to Saint Mary’s. Visit the pasta bar at Dalloway’s, and see more shows at Moreau than the Keenan Review. Dig into those pockets and scrounge together fifteen bucks to see world-class entertainment at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. When else in your life will performers like the Soweto Gospel Choir and the London Philharmonic fall into your lap? There are multiple theater companies on campus with different shows each semester – go see them.

Where things get really adventurous, though, is when you finally venture off campus and into that mysterious land known as Michiana. You can’t pop the bubble unless you try. I dare you to drop the fear of the unknown, and see more of this corner of the world. Go to the Morris Performing Arts Center. Find a local farmer’s market online and go there. See an art show. Settle in at Fiddler’s Hearth and listen to Irish music over your fish and chips. Don’t be afraid. Just do.

We wonder sometimes about how to build relationships between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students and the greater South Bend community. I suggest you start small. Buy tickets. See things. Get up and get out.

Pop the bubble – I dare you.

Analise Lipari [li-PEAR-ee, in case you were wondering] is a senior English major who lives in Howard Hall. She hails from beautiful New Hampshire, the greatest state in the Union, and dares you to visit northern New England (in addition to the other amazing things you’ll do in your well-educated lives). Just don’t go to Vermont. They’re kind of weird. Contact Analise Lipari at alipari@nd.edu

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