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The view from the plane, or: Why the byline

Katherine Khorey | Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In a few days I leave for Dublin. Chances are you couldn’t care less.

And why should you? So some chick you’ve never met is studying abroad. So she’s spending her last few days in the States in Target looking for wall decals and in Nordstrom’s Rack stocking up on last year’s sweaters. So she worries about her iPod blowing up once she plugs it into another country’s outlet. So she’s not sure if she’ll be able to complete her minor. So she’s memorizing maps of a city she’s never set foot in before now, because if she gets lost there she could really get in trouble.

But chances are you couldn’t care less.

You do care, however, that you’re well into the process of settling in at Notre Dame. Right now you’re skimming over the Viewpoint section in North, waiting for Greg to come back to the table with his pepperoni and chicken pizza or Angela with her bowl of peanut butter and a Granny Smith, so you can go over Latin verbs for the first quiz, or whatever stuff it is that makes Orgo so hard so soon. Or maybe you’re huddled over your Observer at South, alone at one of the four-seaters, lingering over your sweet potato fries, preparing yourself to walk in the last of the summer sunshine outside, where the ringing Basilica bells at midday will make even the walk to Earth Science feel like a major personal epiphany. Your room is, for the most part, now organized and unpacked (your iPod rests safe and unscathed near the edge of your desk), you have at least passing familiarity with local public transportation (a word from the wise: $12 to Grape Road is way too big a cab fare), and you even have some idea what classes you’re taking this semester.

As for the girl you couldn’t care less about, who’s leaving this weekend – well, in all of these respects, you’re miles ahead of her and in a different place. And I can tell you most assuredly that she does care about that, and you.

Or rather, to drop the third person conceit: I care.

I care because even though I’m not there, I still appreciate and feel all the things you’re going through now at Notre Dame now, and for as many great things as may await us future expatriates in the coming year, what I know I’m missing makes me sad.

Still, I did make the decision to go abroad for the year, and hope for your sake as well as mine that all my reasons for doing so will be vindicated; if nothing else I hope Trinity College will do enough for the style and content of my writing that you’ll get a decent column to go with your sweet potato fries every other Wednesday.

And hopefully this column will connect two faraway places. This Saturday, for instance, I’ll be sitting on an airplane reading VC Andrews and wishing I could sleep. But I’ll imagine crossing South Quad in the morning as the smoke of grilled brats fills the air and toddlers in oversized jerseys catch footballs from their beer-cooler clutching alum dads, and wonder idly about standing on a splintery bench in the sun, surrounded by thousands of cheering blue shirts (or maybe even actually tracking with the game this year).

I can imagine your experiencing both this first football Saturday and everything that’ll come later. I can share with you both the frustration of waiting in hours long security lines and the more interesting experiences that’ll come out on the other side.

Hence the byline “Both Sides Now,” which some of you will recognize from the Judy Collins song (or Joni Mitchell, if that’s your preference). Here, as in the song, it’s meant to evoke one’s seeing, and learning from seeing, two perspectives.

This doesn’t mean you’re in for constant and predictable comparisons between your current setting and mine (really? A sprawling Catholic university in a small Midwest city is different than a walled ancient one in a capital city in another continent? Really?) As much as I’d like you to see Dublin with me, it should be far from the only topic covered. Also, there are much more interesting subjects to read about than whether or not someone who, once again, you’ve never met and couldn’t care less about, is allowed to enjoy a Guinness in public or entertain male guests in her room after midnight.

But it does mean, hopefully, you’ll get to read a biweekly piece that both identifies with your own experiences and offers you something new at the same time. That you’ll get the view from here and there, on all kinds of things, at once.

The view from both sides, now.

Soon, I’ll be abroad. I know you couldn’t care less.

But I hope you enjoy the view any way.

Katherine Khorey is a junior English major. She can be contacted at kkhorey@nd.edu

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