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Exceeding Expectations

Aaron Steiner | Friday, August 21, 2009

I happened to pick up a South Bend travel brochure earlier this week at a rest stop along I-80 on my way to campus. Notre Dame graces the cover and some of the text inside touts your new school as “the most famous University” in the nation.

Notre Dame is known the world over. Whether they know the athletic program, the academic reputation or the Catholic history of Notre Dame, people know this University.

With that kind of reputation, stereotypes and expectations about this place abound.

As a freshman, I took these expectations to heart, and had plenty of my own imaginations about the four years ahead of me.

I think it’s normal to arrive at an unfamiliar place and have all sorts of expectations and notions about what the experience will be like. If you’re like I was, you’re a little nervous arriving on campus and have been trying to imagine for months what heading to college would be like who you would meet, what you would do, how you would fit in. And you probably have some expectations.

You might think you know exactly what’s coming, but more likely than not there is no way to imagine the types of things you’ll experience at Notre Dame.

I, for one, did not expect to travel all over Europe while studying abroad for a year, go to USC or New Orleans with the Band of the Fighting Irish, interview a Senator while working at the campus newspaper, have professors who have become friends, or meet so many amazing people and make so many great friends.

The biggest thing I didn’t expect was the huge number of opportunities I’d have as a student at Notre Dame.

In other words, Notre Dame has far exceeded my expectations. And I’m sure the same can be true for you, if you recognize the opportunities in front of you and take them whenever you can.

This weekend, when you’re doing all sorts of Frosh-O activities, take the opportunity to meet as many people from your dorm as you can. Use this opportunity to find a friend or a few in your dorm or elsewhere.

In two weeks, when Activities Night is held, head to the JACC and consider all sorts of clubs and activities the opportunities they provide.

When RecSports starts advertising club or dorm sports, consider joining a team or two.

When a professor or upperclassman mentions studying abroad, talk to them about the opportunity and any experiences abroad they’ve had.

When the Center for Social Concerns takes applications for their seminars and service programs, check out opportunities and consider giving back.

When Campus Ministry starts an Emmaus group in your dorm, consider the opportunity to meet for Bible study.

When your RA invites you to have dinner, seize the opportunity to get to know him.

When you have the chance, take the opportunity to get to know your rector.

When you’re in an interesting class, go to the professor’s office hours and use the opportunity to get to know him and talk about the course.

And whenever you have the opportunity, introduce yourself and reach out to as many of your classmates as you can.

If you lack any motivation to take the risk and seize any of these opportunities, find a senior. We’ll all confirm that time at this place is limited, and it goes all too fast.

If you’re lucky enough to have a diverse number of experiences and meet a wide array of people, I think that you, too, will in retrospect agree that Notre Dame has exceeded your expectations.

Aaron Steiner is a senior Finance and German major. He can be

contacted at asteiner@nd.edu

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

necessarily those of The Observer